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© Ugur Akinci
I’ve made a test. I generated different output versions of the same simple file both by using Adobe FrameMaker 12 and then Adobe RoboHelp 11.
Since these two great products are sold as part of Adobe’s Technical Communication Suite, I wanted to see what would one lose without RoboHelp and by using only FrameMaker as a publishing platform.
For traditional publishing needs, you could probably do without RoboHelp 11 and rely solely on FrameMaker 12.
Here I will present the results of RoboHelp11 publishing.
I have imported the same FM file into RoboHelp 11 and then tried to generate as many output versions as I could from the wealth of options offered by RH:
The original FM file looked great after I imported it into RoboHelp just fine:
(Click to enlarge the images)
I first to batch-generate every RH output available by selecting all of them in the Batch Generator screen and then clicking the Generate button:
RH failed to generate anything. (Later, I discovered RH was giving one “Macros are disabled” error message after another. After enabling macros in MS Word, I could at least generate “Printed Documentation”.)
So I had to try publishing one format at a time.
Here are the results:
MS HTML Output
Printed Documentation (PDF)
Responsive HTML Output 1 – For Desktop
Responsive HTML Output 2 – For iPad
Responsive HTML Output 3 – For Android and iPhone
Flash and Flash PRO Help
Multi Screen Output
Verdict: It’s not bad but needs a little editing of the style sheet.
|FrameMaker 12||RoboHelp 11||Verdict|
|Printed Doc / PDF||Yes||Yes||Both excellent|
|Responsive HTML 5||Yes||Yes||Both excellent|
|Multiscreen HTML 5||No||Yes||Needs cleanup|
|Web Help||Yes||Yes||Both excellent|
|Web Help Pro||No||Yes||Excellent|
|MS HTML||Yes||Yes||Both excellent|
|Flash Help No||No||Yes||Excellent|
|Flash Help Pro||No||Yes||Excellent|
For my purposes, I think FrameMaker 12 alone would be just fine. Generating my help file straight from FM, without the intermediary step of importing the files into RoboHelp, should be cleaner and quicker. Yes, RH does provide some options that FM does not. But some of them, like Flash help, are increasingly deprecated as HTML 5 takes over as the dominant web markup regime. If you, for example, need to generate Adobe Air help, then you’d better keep your RoboHelp nearby. But for most traditional publishing projects I think FrameMaker will hold its own against RH.
I have tested FM’s HTML engine with a 5-chapter book file. It did just fine. But I have not yet tested what would happen if I have let’s say 100 or 500 files in the book project. That will be the subject of another blog post in the future.