RE: Online Help question

Subject: RE: Online Help question
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: Melissa Nelson <melmis36 -at- hotmail -dot- com>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 6 May 2010 17:43:40 -0400


As others have said, RH and Flare are similar in capabilities.

Flare was created by people who formerly worked on RH. They
tried to improve on what originally started out as a
bunch of scripts for Word. So you might say that Flare
was "purpose built" by people who had a long history
of knowing what worked, what didn't, and what they
always wished they "coulda done better" if only they
weren't constrained by history, inertia, existing customer
base, etc.

For it's first couple of releases, Flare was impressive,
but perhaps a little thin. They've been fleshing it out
wildly for several years now.

Following years of laurel-sitting _before_ the Flare
gang got started, and a year or two of apparent inaction
_after_ Flare launched, the RH gang appeared to wake up
and begin improving RH. Sorta like FrameMaker languished
for years, then suddenly perked up when some corporate
honcho took an interest a few years ago...

Actually, I understand that they hired a bunch of
new folks to replace the dozens and dozens who had
wandered away or been told to leave during the
doldrum years. That was bad, due to the massive loss
of corporate knowledge on the RH front, but also good
because it brought people with fresh perspective and energy.

I used RH for just a few years, as my first HAT, up to
just shortly after Flare was launched, then switched.

I continue to like Flare and am not tempted to switch
back. That's not a put-down of RH, just an acknowledgement
that it has no killer advantage that would persuade
me to spend more of my company's money and a few
days to get back up to speed with RH.

If you were accustomed to a version of RoboHelp more
than a couple of years old, then I'd say that the
learning curve to get going with Flare would be
hardly more onerous than the learning curve to get
up-to-speed with modern RH. But that's from no
more than a few minutes of tinkering with somebody
else's RH last Christmas, so take with a grain of salt.

My impression is that the MadCap people are still
miles ahead in terms of sheer, massive responsiveness.

A couple of times, I've uttered a complaint or gripe
about Flare in THIS list - not even on the Flare
Forums (which are lively and helpful, by the way),
and within _minutes_ my inbox was showing a query
from one or more MadCap employee asking for further
info, how can we help, did you try this, can you
send a sample and we'll try to replicate.

Also, they don't *always* jump on wishes and
incorporate them in the next release, but often
enough to be impressive.

Um, no, I don't have any relationship with the
company other than as a pretty-much satisfied
Bronze-maintenance customer. But we don't want
'em getting swelled heads.

Hope that gives a smidgen of perspective. Mind
the bias, now. :-)

Oh, and I use only a small fraction of the Flare
capability. I make WebHelp for our several products.
We're still looking forward to the day when we'll
have an integrated GUI with which to incorporate
context-sensitive help. I live in hope.
When that happens, Flare will be more than adequate...
but so would RH.

- Kevin

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