RoboHelp 11 and the Fun of Beta-testing

Beta testing a new product is hard. If the product is a good one, it’s hard because you want to tell everyone. You work with a client and think to yourself, “gee, the new version solves that problem,” or “if you were using the beta version, it would have saved you HOURS!”

I had the wonderful opportunity to beta test the upcoming release of Technical Communication Suite 5.0 and having used these tools for well over a decade, I have to tell you that what is to come is an amazing update. The interfaces have been modernized and the features continue to roll in.

More and more, my clients are moving into single-sourcing. They want to use a single source while having the information available in multiple formats. This is one area in which RoboHelp 11 shines.

Users want their information where they are – on their phones, on their tables, and still on their PCs or in PDF format. RoboHelp 11 simplifies this with a combination of layouts designed specifically for mobile devices. As a technical writer, I like the Batch Generate feature, which enables me to click a button and watch as RoboHelp quickly generates all configured layouts.output

A second huge area of functionality that has been further developed is the Printed Documentation feature. I have to admit that I have struggled with this in the past.

On the one side, I have had the ability to generate many different documents, each customized to the intended user. On the other side, I have never really managed to fully tweak RoboHelp to generate the desired outcome straight to PDF. Instead, I have generated a Word document and then followed a list of required changes.

I had to manually insert the corporate logo, some tweaking of styles, and then an update to the table of contents. With RoboHelp 11, one amazing new feature is the ability to fully customize master pages – several per document, so that each page appears as I want it to, without major tweaking.

And finally, another feature which I haven’t been able to test fully yet because  as a beta tester, I can only share the files with myself, is the Review functionality. Introduced in RoboHelp 9, I think these features have come of age in RoboHelp 11 and are now extremely attractive and effective. Integration with Dropbox, for example, means I can share my documents, get comments, and quickly integrate them back into the project.

But I think my favorite feature is the ability to have multiple authors fully collaborate – with the latest Sync functionality, I can see, in real-time, the changes being made. Overall, with the updated look and feel, and the new functionality, RoboHelp 11 sets the bar very high and brings us into the future of writing for the mobile world, collaborating with our peers in a global environment and much more.

It certainly gets my thumbs up.