RoboHelp 8 - Online Help and Community Help

Background

The online help in RoboHelp 7 came in for a lot of adverse criticism because of poor formatting and inadequate content. That criticism must have stung someone at Adobe as a lot of effort has been put into changing things.

The content has been extensively revised and Community Help has been introduced.

Content Changes

The formatting has been corrected and a lot of work has gone into improving the content. Some will say that more needs to be done, the good news is their number includes the team who produce the online help and they are working on it. You may have noticed that you can download a PDF version of the help. That has been updated three times in the first half of 2009, each time the online help has been updated. There has long been an online and offline version of the help and the theory was the online help would be updated from time to time. To the best of my knowledge, the help was never updated between versions.

It appears now that Adobe believes that consultants, trainers and power-users can add a new perspective with best practices and comprehensive examples that bring real added value to the online help. I think that is a great attitude and wish other software suppliers would see it that way.

Community Help

However, there is an even bigger and more fundamental change, Community Help, and it is served up in a new AIR help viewer.

 

Favourites

Now you can bookmark topics you need regularly.

Comments

Here is further proof that Adobe are serious about wanting to improve the help. If a topic is incorrect or unclear, you can add a comment. The idea is that you add the required information or just indicate in what way the topic is not working for you. What happens then is that the comment is emailed to the moderators, I am one of them. If the moderators agree with the comment, it then goes to the authoring team and they will make the necessary changes to the online help.

If the comment is about something that should be handled by Customer Support or Technical Support, it will be rejected and you will get an email telling you that. Questions about how something should be done should not be posted as a comment, use the RoboHelp forums for questions.

Please do not post abusive comments.
It is frustrating when you have read a topic that has not given you the answer you want and easy to let that frustration spill over into your comment. Ask yourself if the help you write is so good that every question a user might have is covered. Then ask yourself how you would like your users to let you know something is wrong. How helpful would you be to someone who abuses all your work because one topic is wrong?
Stick to the facts of the problem and the Adobe authoring team will address it as quickly as they can.

Help Options

If you are viewing the help online, by default the search will search more than just the online help. Other sources of information available to RoboHelp authors are Adobe's Support pages and sites such as mine. Adding their own support pages is perhaps not surprising but it is an unusual step to include topics on third party sites.

You can choose from:

  • Just the online help
  • Just the support pages and third party sites
  • All sources

TCS Options

If you have the Technical Communication Suite installed, you can access the help for the other programs without opening them.

Download PDF

You can download a PDF version of the help. This option is also available when you view the help in offline mode but obviously you will have to go online to download it.

Online / Offline

When you install RoboHelp, by default it will be setup to use the online version of the help.

  • If you are online when you first open the help, the icon bottom right will have a green circle indicating the online help is being used. You will have all the options highlighted.
  • If you are not online when you first open the help, you will need to hover the mouse over the icon and select offline help. The offline help will then be accessed and some of the options will not be available.

RoboHelp will remember the online / offline setting when it is next opened.