RE: RoboHelp or Flare?

Subject: RE: RoboHelp or Flare?
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: "Cardimon, Craig" <ccardimon -at- M-S-G -dot- com>, "Techwr-l" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 2 Jan 2008 15:19:36 -0500

On Behalf Of Cardimon, Craig wanted to know:

> I'm gonna open 'er wide up on this one. I'm evaluating a test version
> Madcap Flare based on what I have read about it.
> Based on what you all know, those of you who have use one or both and
> have since settled on a product, which would you recommend?
> I am currently using Adobe RoboHelp 6.
> We post help online, but we also use lots of printed documentation,

We were semi-happily using RoboHelp, and then switched to Flare when it
appeared Adobe was not really interested in RH.
Given that Adobe have since pulled their collective head out of their
collective... er... <insert-name-of-orifice> and resumed a public show
of support and development for the product, I'd say it's pretty much a
wash which one you use.
RH was always pretty good but had its problems and annoyances.
Flare is pretty good but has its problems and annoyances.
Neither is perfect. Either one will do the job quite well, mostly.
Frankly, if Adobe had chosen to not give such a perfect imitation of
somebody abandoning a product, my employer would still be using RH, and
would have upgraded our several licenses. Instead, by the time Adobe
deigned to acknowledge us lowly users, we had already invested both the
money (not insignificant) and the migration effort (also not
insignificant), in the move to Flare, so we're not likely to go back.
FWIW, given that Madcap was ostensibly formed around the
best'n'brightest of the old RoboHelp developers taking their work to the
next level, I consider that Flare version 3.x should (in reality) be RH
version 11-ish, as far as completeness, solidity and other indicators of
product maturity are concerned, and I'm frequently disappointed. Never
deal-breakingly disappointed, mind you, but the kind of thing where you
just assume you can do something, and then find out you can't (sorry, no
examples in my head since coming back from Christmas time off...). Also,
in my case, Flare yields up the Windows message "We're sorry, but MadCap
Flare has encountered a problem and has to close (... i.e., has
crashed)..." about once a week. It somehow doesn't excuse Flare that the
problems are likely related to .Net 2 framework. After all, MadCap chose
to go with .Net development, rather than a more open platform. Also,
Flare does not say anything when you "update" your .Net to version 3...
and Flare still uses only .Net 2.x. Little things. Little things.

Don't know if that stream-of-unconsciousness will help your decision.
If you have any previous experience with RH, I don't think Flare gives
you enough to warrant the new learning curve. If you've never used
either, then flip a coin.


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