Re: RoboHelp 9 vs. Flare 7

Subject: Re: RoboHelp 9 vs. Flare 7
From: "William Sherman" <bsherman77 -at- embarqmail -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 7 Feb 2012 14:36:51 -0500

I used RoboHelp 7.0 and Word 2003 in 2008 - 2010 to create software help
files and a user's document which were nearly the same. Not my choice, but
restrictions/demands put on me as the project started.

The team initially swallowed the RoboHelp advertising of it being completely
single source - make a document for one format, click a button, and produce
another for another format. So they assumed you could produce the compiled
help file, click a button, and then produce a ready to use Word document.

That is partially true. The issues are this:

1. The layout of Help for a program does not match the layout for a book.
2. RoboHelp 7.0 was limited in what it did to create a Word document.
3. Conditional text did not allow for conditional formatting. You could put
"A New Approach" in regular text in one file and "Our New and Improved" in
bold italics or whatever in the other, but you couldn't control one in
single column and the other in two-column pages.

The company had a standard look and feel to their documents with very strict
and formal title pages, headers, footers, revision pages, and such. Much of
this was achieved with various paragraph styles and page formats. RoboHelp
kept a much simpler approach to how it handled Word, meaning I got a very
basic Word document, had trouble getting the paragraph styles to match up,
couldn't get the page layout correct, and so on.

In the beginning, I dumped RH7's Word file into Word, bring in our template,
begin changing all the paragraph styles, and end up with the right look and
feel. This was NOT simply clicking a button and having a finished document
like the team believed.

For the first few revisions, I continued that, so that I had some single
source advantages, like being sure all changes were in both documents.

Then I began simply keeping two documents - Help and Word. They really were
two products and were not a 1 to 1 match in practice and shouldn't be. Help
in an application is help, not a user's guide or a T&M manual or anything
like that. It took awhile to convince the team of that, especially since
these were subject to customer review on each revision and the customer
didn't really know what he was doing, but was used to the privilege that
rank provides and getting his way, even if wrong.

Finally, I got them into what they were supposed to be - a compiled help
file and a user / operator guide and never ran the two from the same again.

But if you have simpler documents, RH7 worked fine.

I am not sure what level RH is at now, but odds are they have improved,
possibly from some of the complaints I gave them in a RoboHelp conference
meeting our company had with them as it was being used in various locations
throughout the company. My first complaint was why RoboHelp (an Adobe
product) didn't work with Framemaker (an Adobe product) and they were quite
embarrassed I brought that up. then my detailed issues on how RH didn't
handle paragraph styles well, wouldn't let me define templates and styles,
and maintain them, or to create a separate look and feel for different

So it may be better now.

----- Original Message ----- From: "Cardimon, Craig" <ccardimon -at- M-S-G -dot- com>
To: "'Julie Stickler'" <jstickler -at- gmail -dot- com>; <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Sent: Tuesday, February 07, 2012 10:26 AM
Subject: RE: RoboHelp 9 vs. Flare 7

I last used RH in 2006, so my judgment on that might be a bit old. The
different lies in multiple outputs. Around my work, someone always wants it
in Word. Flare does it. RH was recalcicrant.

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+ccardimon=m-s-g -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+ccardimon=m-s-g -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf
Of Julie Stickler
Sent: mardi 7 février 2012 10:11
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: RoboHelp 9 vs. Flare 7

I know that. But I found Craig's recommendation, which mentions that both
handle WebHelp well, was a bit confusing. Really, if they both handle it
well, then what does he see as the difference?


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RoboHelp 9 vs. Flare 7: From: Cardimon, Craig
Re: RoboHelp 9 vs. Flare 7: From: Julie Stickler
Re: RoboHelp 9 vs. Flare 7: From: Rick Stone
Re: RoboHelp 9 vs. Flare 7: From: Julie Stickler
RE: RoboHelp 9 vs. Flare 7: From: Cardimon, Craig

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