May 24, 2004 Program Summary
by Adele Sommers
Live RoboHelp X5 Demo from Macromedia:
This unique event featured a live, interactive Web presentation by RJ Jacquez (left; see more speaker details below), the Product Manager for RoboHelp for FrameMaker at Macromedia, Inc. This Webinar was broadcast exclusively to our chapter and guests, and featured the inside scoop on Macromedia's Help authoring tool, RoboHelp X5, as well as the latest version of Macromedia's demonstration and simulation capture tool, RoboDemo.
The RoboHelp product line was developed by one of the pioneers in the Help industry, eHelp Corporation. Macromedia acquired eHelp Corporation in late 2003 and is now engaged in an outreach program to STC chapters. The SLO STC chapter, in conjunction with the Cal Poly STC and English 518 class in the Cal Poly Technical Communication Certificate Program, arranged for this live demonstration of RoboHelp's features.
What is a Help authoring tool?
What exactly is a Help authoring tool, you ask? It's the design system used to create that useful information that pops open whenever you select Help from the main menu or click a Help button in any software application.
Usually, the information appears as a collection of ordered, searchable topics with a table of contents, glossary, and index. Topics typically link to other topics so you can drill down to exactly what you need to know.
Few people realize, however, that Help authoring tools also can create just about any type of presentation that uses a navigational structure! These include product overviews, marketing presentations, and tutorials.
This is a two-part summary
Part 1: An overview of RoboHelp X5 and RoboDemo 5.0
During our overview of RoboHelp X5, RJ took us on a tour of several aspects of Help authoring. The purpose was to transport the participants, who had varying degrees of exposure to Help, onto a level playing field of familiarity. Among the many topics we covered, RJ showed and explained:
A sample of FlashHelp
The image at left shows a sample of the FlashHelp output as it appears in the browser with its default skin (one of several you can use). RJ demonstrated several aspects of the interface, as explained below.
The tool bar at the top shows a Contents button, which relates to the navigation pane on the left side. The navigation pane contains all of the topics in the table of contents. Note that the viewer can show or hide the pane as desired.
Other tool bar buttons and functions, such as the Index, Search, and Glossary, can be included or excluded by the Help author. Authors also can choose whether to display or hide the navigation pane by default. In this way, RJ verified that information designers can use Help authoring systems for many other types of productions that need automatically ordered and hyperlinked pages.
For more information on all of the features of RoboHelp X5, see the RoboHelp X5 tour on Macromedia's site. Image used with permission of Macromedia, Inc.
RoboDemo, Macromedia's demonstration and simulation capture tool, enables authors to create Flash-based simulations and demos without knowing Flash. RJ explained that authors can incorporate customized text captions, audio, video, Flash animations, text animations, images, and hyperlinks. In answer to an audience question, RJ confirmed that Flash developers can import RoboDemo projects into Flash for editing and ActionScripting.
According to RJ, one way that authors can enhance Help projects is by including RoboDemo software simulations in applicable topics. For example, authors wanting to show how a software interface works can start the camera with the application open and let RoboDemo capture and automatically annotate the pointer and keystroke sequences needed to perform a specific task, as shown in the diagram below.
information on all of the features of RoboDemo, see the RoboDemo
information page on Macromedia's site.
Part 2: A self-guided tour of non-Help projects
For examples of non-Help projects created with RoboHelp, please follow the links below. Use these ideas to stimulate your thinking about what else you can create with a Help authoring tool.
Web sites created or enhanced with RoboHelp:
Photography courtesy of Macromedia, Inc. (photo of RJ Jacquez) and Michael Raphael (photo of local audience). All other images used with permission of Macromedia, Inc.
A Live RoboHelp X5 Demo from Macromedia:
Help Authoring Tools Are Not Just for Creating Help
|Date:||Monday evening, May 24, 2004|
RJ Jacquez is the Product Manager for RoboHelp for FrameMaker at Macromedia, Inc. RJ has fourteen years of experience with Adobe FrameMaker, including eight years as a professional FrameMaker instructor. He has also lectured about FrameMaker on behalf of Adobe Systems at that company's "Beyond Word Processing" seminars.
While formerly serving as Vice President of Technology at Quadralay Corporation, maker of WebWorks Publisher, RJ gained extensive experience in the areas of single-sourcing, ePublishing, and Help authoring. Most recently, RJ has led a team at Macromedia to develop an entirely new single-sourcing tool specifically designed for use with FrameMaker.
A Live RoboHelp X5 Demo from Macromedia: Help Authoring Tools Are Not Just for Creating Help. This demonstration was designed for Help authors and information designers who wanted to learn how to use RoboHelp to develop or re-purpose content in online Help systems, as well as in non-Help projects, such as online tutorials and Web sites.
|Door Prize:||We gave away an assortment of Macromedia goodies, including a $500 RoboDemo software package.|