Adobe and technical writing: partly a rant, but an entirely legitimate question...

Subject: Adobe and technical writing: partly a rant, but an entirely legitimate question...
From: "Tony A. Emond" <tony -at- clevershark -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2007 13:03:04 -0400

I'm currently working as a technical writer, and as such am keenly
interested in issues related to this topic, especially when it comes to
software. So when I got an email advising me that Adobe had released a new
version of Robohelp I was keen to try it out, especially now that it's made
by the same company as Framemaker. My enthusiasm was very short-lived. I
posted this on the Adobe RH forum, but I have a feeling that it won't stay
there for long, so here's my rant...

[image: More...] I'm responsible for technical documentation at my company.
Yesterday I received an email about Robohelp 6, and decided to check it out.

I've used Robohelp before and quite liked it. It's very useful if you have
an existing documentation base in Microsoft Word; owever nearly all the
companies I've worked at that have a substantial documentation base use
Framemaker and not Word as their standard documentation platform, for a wide
variety of reasons.

So, I'm a little disappointed to notice that Robohelp 6 really can't be used
practically with Framemaker. Sure, I can translate all my files to MIF and
import them, but then this forces me to go ahead and translate a lot of
documentation manually (the functionality to do a batch format conversion
just doesn't exist). It also forces me to keep two sets of documents (you
can't generate TOCs or IXs from MIF files apparently). That's just not
acceptable considering that the same company makes both applications.
Evidently RH6 isn't even able to use Framemaker to translate documents on
the fly the way that a third-party application like WebWorks is able to do.

Seriously, I can't even say that the products are poorly integrated, because
they're evidently not integrated in any way.

This wouldn't be so bad if Frame 7.2 included the decent version of WebWorks
that used to be included with Frame 6.x, *or was even compatible with that
version!* But it's not. You can't use Frame 7.2 with WebWorks. You're stuck
with using ePublisher, which isn't even close to an acceptable replacement
as it's a huge downgrade from the previous bundled app.

So, another online help solution is a dire necessity here, and Adobe,
despite owning both the Robohelp and Framemaker, is either unable or
unwilling to make both work together for a reason which really escapes me.
The one FAQ entry on the subject is beyond vague and noncommittal and smacks
of a half-answer designed to "stop the technical writers whining about

Additionally, considering that Adobe itself is still to this day bundling
Quadralay products with Framemaker, wouldn't it be the logically expected
thing for Robohelp to be able to import WebWorks and ePublisher projects, at
least in part? Yet I don't see any way in which this can be done.

Robohelp 6 is not a cheap product. At a grand a seat, it costs more than
Photoshop, despite being a much simpler product (certainly in technical
terms). I'd LOVE to be able to recommend that my company buy a few licenses,
but this is really not something that I can do at this time, nor do I
foresee a time when I'll be able to do so unfortunately.

What can I, as a senior technical writer, expect Adobe to do to resolve what
I see as a serious impasse here?

Tony A. Emond <tony -at- clevershark -dot- com>
PHP developer, MySQL specialist and technical writer.
Visit my web site at!

Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity!

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Previous by Author: Re: Science Writing
Next by Author: RE: FRIDAY: Unlikely athletes?
Previous by Thread: Re: What You Really Need To Know About The UML : was something else
Next by Thread: Re: Adobe and technical writing: partly a rant, but an entirely legitimate question...

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads