Briefing: RoboHelp X5

RoboHelp X5
starting at $499
San Diego, California
(858) 847-7900

eHelp has put the finishing touches on a new version of its flagship RoboHelp application for flexibly generating and editing help files and related documentation. The new version will be available some time this month, but I've already seen it in action and talked to the product team a bit, so here's a peek at what's coming.

The big news here is that RoboHelp has suddenly gotten much more team friendly with the introduction of the RoboSourceControl application. This gives you a fully functional source code control application in the package, and tightly integrated with RoboHelp. You can check files in and out, manage security and permissions, identify and compare versions, and roll back files to earlier versions. And because they're using the standard SCCAPI, you can also use your existing source code control system if you prefer. They've also taken pains to minimize bandwidth use, and to make the process friendly for distributed or occasionally-connected users.

On the content side, RoboHelp now has import and export capabilities for both XML and PDF. With XML, you can use DocBook or XHTML, or define your own standard for export. With PDF, there's an intelligent import process that uses the formatting information in the PDF file to determine styles for the help project. You can also export help to PDF, which makes for nice manuals.

RoboHelp still supports many help file formats, from Microsoft HTML Help to the newly-added Sun JavaHelp 2.0. And of course eHelp continues to promote their own cross-platform FlashHelp format; I expect to see that gain in prominence now that they've been acquired by Macromedia.

RoboHelp has been an impressive help-authoring system for quite a while now. With the new support for multiple-author projects, it's just getting better.


For more reviews and opinions from Mike Gunderloy, click here.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.


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