Review of RoboHelp Office ver. X3

By Jodi Sergeant

Thanks for the opportunity to review the latest and greatest of RoboHelp Office. I have only minor complaints of this latest release. For most of my projects, I prefer to use RoboHelp, rather than Doc-to- Help or ForeHelp.

I’ll start with my complaints first since there’s so few of them….

Issues

1.) One minor pet peeve….for the next release, I suggest that the RoboHelp icons change back to the purple and yellow colors  or use some other color combinations. I don’t like the color of the icon for RoboHelp (the light blue color is too similar to Microsoft’s Inbox icon , Notepad ‘s icon  , and the Internet Explorer icon). I would get confused with all the light blue colors on my status bar.

2.) I don’t think RoboHelp has really enhanced the printed documentation feature. This feature/function in RoboHelp (Explorer>Generate) seems the same. I like how I can convert the structure and the content of the help to printed documentation, but I don’t like the appearance of the document once it’s converted (even when I’ve tried to use the following RoboHelp templates: robohp31.dot and robort31.dot, etc). For example, I usually have to re-format a lot of the document…..All of the following needs reformatting…..the style, the fonts (sometimes even though the heading 1 should be a certain font, the printed heading 1’s are sometimes not the same size), the placement of text, and the images (usually the conversion makes them bigger and blurry). I always find that I need to try another Microsoft Word template to use to regenerate the information from the help to a user’s guide. Doc-to-Help is a better product for converting help to printed documentation. I find that I have less editing to do and the style of the document looks cleaner and more professional. The template for the headings looks better and the placement of links is tabbed correctly in the document.

3.) This is not a complaint, only an error that I found in one of the sentences of the help. (I don’t know if they are interested in this)…..Under the topic “TOC Composer: Adding Internet/HTML access” #3 states, “In Title, enter the name of the page as you want it to appear in the TOC. (It’s a good idea to use a very descriptive title so your users are aware that selecting this page does open a page on the Internet.)

Positive Feedback

Re: RoboHelp Word

1.) I really like the Skins feature where you can customize the look of the help via color, buttons, etc.—easy to use/good explanation of how to use. I’ve never used this feature before.

2.) I have always liked the image mapping function that allows clickable areas within the image to display popups, or links to another topic, or URL.

3.) I like the new left hand toolbar feature of RoboHelp Explorer….For example, Create a new topic and create a new book icons/buttons allow you to click on the button for a function rather than to right click on the Table of Contents topics for a function. Up and down navigational buttons are useful as well to navigate within the TOC. I also like the advantage of getting properties on a certain items. All these features save time and make navigation easier within the system tree.

4.) Also, within the RoboHelp Explorer window I think the additional buttons under the menu bar are useful. The Show Component Menu is much improved, you now do not have to click within the tree or use the side bar to go up and down the tree to access what you want.

Re: RoboHelp HTML

5.) I prefer to use RoboHelp for Word, rather than RoboHelp HTML. It’s just a comfort issue more than an issue with this application. I can convert all my topics in RoboHelp for Word into HTML files when I use the Single Source Layouts option, then WebHelp.

Re: RoboDemo

6.) I found it easy to create, edit and insert a RoboDemo tutorial within a help project. What a great way to add pizzazz to a help file!!! The images shrink down to a diminutive size and the total size of the tutorial is so small it can be sent via email or put into a help file without making the doc file huge. I was able to create a RoboDemo file that didn’t increase the size of the .doc file even though the tutorial contained seven different images and the images had high resolution. The frames are easy to import and edit in RoboDemo and I like the “Add” function that allows you to block off areas of an image with color borders and add fade in/out captions/messages.

Overall, in my experience, writers and programmers prefer to use RoboHelp to create and maintain help systems because the application has fewer issues with the Internet and programming platforms.

Click on the image to find out more about RoboHelp.