Re: Stick with RoboHelp, or upgrade to something else?

Subject: Re: Stick with RoboHelp, or upgrade to something else?
From: Chris Kowalchuk <chris -at- BDK -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999 13:22:54 -0400


Well, you are in the rare position of being able to choose the best tool
for the job (that is, nobody seems to be dictating tool use to you).
Since any product will have an upgrade cycle, and you will end up
spending more money eventually, it may not actually cost your company
extra (in the long run) to buy the two competing products and try them
out. Whichever one you like best will no doubt be the one you go with
for a while, but you will be on the upgrade pricing scheme for all of
them, so your next version of whatever it is may not be that much
(unless you then purchase an upgrade of Robo-Help, in which case the
other two become part of an educational expense).

From my limited experience, and what I've heard from others (including
some intelligent discussion on this list), it sounds as if ForeHelp may
be closer to a "best of breed" although it is not the most aggressively
marketed product. It's what I own myself. Having received a barrage of
material from Blue Sky (unasked for) and some material from ForeFront
(from a trade show), I tried to compare the products based on their
features claims. Being fairly new to help authoring tools (I'd only done
it "manually" before, using RTF files and VB WinHelp), I found this a
little confusing, but it seemed to me that the main differentiating
point was ForeHelp's "test mode" which allows you to check your work
without compiling. That struck me as potentially very useful and a big
time-saver. As for RoboHelp's vaunted integration with Word, it left me
asking the big "So what?" Surely you still have to produce an RTF file,
or at least a file with very limited formatting options, so who cares
how it is produced? It seemed to me that ForeHelp (which includes its
own word processor, but can import RTF--and therefore works with Word,
if you can't live without that feature) was the (slightly) better tool
overall for managing and executing a help project. Thus far, I haven't
come across any information that would change my mind, and when I hear
about all these expensive RoboHelp upgrades, I'm further pleased with my
choice. You may be able to call on the corporate purse strings, but my
freelance budget is fairly limited. I expect the upgrade plan to be
fairly inexpensive once I've coughed up the big bucks for a software
package. If I had purchased RoboHelp, I would have little choice but to
pass on some of the upgrades, at least until a client made upgrading
necessary (and/or profitable).

That's my bit of advice, for what it's worth.

Chris Kowalchuk

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