Volume 24, Number 1
September 2007

September Afternoon Workshop:
Comparison of RoboHelp and Flare

RoboHelp has had a few rough years—ignored and seemingly left for dead by Macromedia, then brought back to life as version six by Adobe earlier in 2006, with version seven now in the wings. In the meantime, MadCap Flare stepped into the apparent RoboHelp vacuum and went from a 0 percent market share in January 2006 to an apparent second place in the help authoring tool world, according to last year’s WritersUA survey.

The result? Confusion. If I’m a RoboHelp user, should I stay with it? Switch to Flare? Switch to some other help authoring tool? A DITA authoring tool with a CMS (whatever that is)? If I’m a new author, which tool should I pick? Should I pick either of these tools?

This presentation starts by discussing the changes affecting tech comm—XML, CMS, DITA, structured authoring, single sourcing, and others—to provide a context for the tool-specific discussion. The presentation then looks at Flare 3 and RoboHelp 6 to compare their design philosophies and feature sets. (Note that the presentation may look at RoboHelp 7, if Adobe releases it in time for this workshop. If not, Neil will discuss some of version seven’s high points per Adobe’s sneak peeks at the annual STC conference in May.)

Lecture and Demo, but No Sales Pitch

Unlike the morning workshop, this one is lecture- and demo-based. A familiarity with online help and documentation authoring is helpful but not necessary, that is, you can also attend if you’re just getting ready to move your material online.

Neil is a certified trainer for both RoboHelp and Flare. However, this workshop is not a sales pitch for either tool and may wind up recommending other authoring tools in some cases.