Adobe's New RoboHelp 6 - Rob Houser's Review in WritersUA

Subject: Adobe's New RoboHelp 6 - Rob Houser's Review in WritersUA
From: "Barbara Vega" <BarbaraV -at- libertyims -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2007 12:00:03 -0800

Hi all

Rob Houser, a HAT trainer and principal consultant for User Assistance
Group, Inc. writes a detailed and objective evaluation of the new Adobe
RoboHelp 6 in the most recent Writers UA Newsletter
http://www.writersua.com/articles/robohelp_6/index.html#intro. I have
snipped out the last piece which is mostly his "humble opinions." It is
a good read and informative.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


One Man's Humble Opinion

In my opinion, the main challenge for Adobe is to bring new vision to a
tool that has been great in the past but that does not support many of
the new directions in the user assistance industry. Adobe needs to do
more than make RoboHelp better; they need to allow technical
communicators (and subject-matter experts and even the users) to create
and manage user assistance in ways that aren't already in place today.

Do You Need To Upgrade?

If you already have RoboHelp, you may be asking "Do I really need to
upgrade?" The answer depends on a few questions.

First, can you benefit from any of the new features available in
RoboHelp 6? Hopefully, you already know that from reading this review.

Second, do you use conditional build tags, RoboSource Control, or
RoboHelp Server? If yes, then you may want to consider upgrading to take
advantage of the enhancements to these features.

If you don't need any of the new features described in this article,
then you may want to sit tight and see what happens in future releases
before you upgrade.

Ultimately, the decision depends on your specific situation and needs.

About Version Numbers

What's in a number? Adobe refers to this release as RoboHelp 6 (not X6).
By my count, this is the 15th major release of RoboHelp.

I asked the Adobe team to explain why they went with this numbering
system and they cited two reasons: (1) Adobe doesn't use the X
designation in their product names or version numbers, and (2) many
RoboHelp customers think of 6 as the next natural version number.



<snip>

One Man's Humble Opinion

In my opinion, Adobe should have started RoboHelp over at Version 1.0 to
emphasize that this is their first take on the product. Of course, this
is a minor point. The real question is this: Is RoboHelp 6 a major
release deserving a full point increment? Maybe.

As far as features are concerned, I'd say RoboHelp 6 is really more of a
point release. There are a couple of important features, but most of the
changes won't drastically enhance what you can create using RoboHelp.
This release is mostly improvements to existing features. However,
RoboHelp 6 is a significant release because it demonstrates that
RoboHelp is still alive-and-kicking, at least for now, and that's
something worth noting.

Emotional Comments

Like many of you, I have had my ups and downs with RoboHelp. I've
enjoyed working with the tool for a long time. (Well, at least since
they worked out most of the bugs in the first seven releases.) I was
surprised and disappointed at the complete lack of interest demonstrated
to our industry by Macromedia. And I remain cautiously optimistic that
Adobe will invigorate the technical communication community with its
newly created suite of tools (which include RoboHelp, Framemaker,
Captivate, and Acrobat).

I must also confess that I am excited to see competition in the HAT
industry again. Without competition, innovation suffers. I hope that all
of the HATs are able to carve out a niche for themselves and to expand
their business, not through massive investments in marketing, but
through genuine, user-centered innovation. We're already into the new
century but have yet to see the technology that will create the future
of user assistance.

<snip>

Remote Development Team

It's worth mentioning that the RoboHelp development work is being
off-shored to India. The bulk of the development team is from India and
working in India. Adobe has had success with applications such as
Acrobat being developed in India. The development team has maintained a
high profile in the help community over the past year, attending the
conferences and interviewing users.

One Man's Humble Opinion

In my opinion, the main challenge for Adobe is to bring new vision to a
tool that has been great in the past but that does not support many of
the new directions in the user assistance industry. Adobe needs to do
more than make RoboHelp better; they need to allow technical
communicators (and subject-matter experts and even the users) to create
and manage user assistance in ways that aren't already in place today.


<snip>

Much has been made in the public forums about how little Adobe did with
RoboHelp in the first release. While I have to agree that RoboHelp 6
isn't earth-shattering, I must point out to those of you who are new to
RoboHelp that the tool itself is not new or short on features. RoboHelp
is still the most widely used HAT and it has several features that make
it worth considering.

Support for source control systems which makes it easier and safer to
work with multiple authors on the same project and which provides you
with sequential backups of your changes so you can rollback to a
previous version of any individual file.

Option of RoboHelp Server to monitor and track the questions users are
asking and to allow the help system to search external documents (DOC,
PPT, XLS, PDF) through the same search engine that searches the help
topics.
Availability of FlashHelp to avoid security issues and to leverage the
power of Flash.
Ability to upgrade WinHelp projects to an HTML-based help system.

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