Archive for the ‘Online Help’ Category

Dr.Explain

April 6, 2010

Sound knowledge in Help authoring tools is always on demand among technical writing industry. Dr.Explain is a Help authoring tool in the market. On March 30 2010, Dr.Explain team has released a version with new enhanced features.

Good news is that Dr.Explain team provides free copies to Technical authors, Site owners who are interested in writing a review on their product. Anything free is always welcome among people (esp for me) 🙂

Just now I received my license key. I am very eager to install Dr.Explain in my laptop and test my hands with this tool. Very soon I will update this post with my User Experience review on Dr.Explain.

Thanks to Tom Johnson to share this info in his space.

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Run Adobe RoboHelp X5 without activation

January 21, 2010

 

I am still managing with RoboHelp X5 for creating Online helps. But that is not the subject of this post. 🙂

Last month, when I was trying to update one of our help systems using RoboHelp, I got a pop-up asking me to activate the product.

Activation code Request

Of course I use a licensed product only. As mentioned in the above pop-up screen, first I tried to catch-up the Macromedia customer care by e-mail link available. I got the following failure notice after 36 hours:

Your message did not reach some or all of the intended recipients. Subject: Activation Code Request

The following recipient(s) cannot be reached: activation@ehelp.com on 12/12/2009 6:19 PM

Could not deliver the message in the time limit specified. Please retry or contact your administrator.

I really wonder what is the use of that E-mail button then… Just for a better UI purpose..? 🙂

Ok, leave it, and then I called my office technical operations people to call the Macromedia customer care number. Yes, I cannot make an ISD call on my own. Of course it’s our company policy you know.  🙂

I got a reply saying that the number mentioned in that pop-up is not reachable.

Then when I googled, I got this link from the adobe site. Remember adobe has bought the Macromedia long time back.

  1. Install RoboHelp X5.
  2. Install Patch X501 and X502.
  3. Download RoboHelp.exe and RoboHTML.exe and replace the installed versions with the downloaded versions. The installed versions are in <Install Directory of X5>/RoboHELP/RoboHelp.exe and <Install Directory of X5>/RoboHTML/RoboHTML.exe respectively.
  4. You now will be able to run Adobe RoboHelp X5 without any activation.

Note:  Download and save the patches X501 and X502 as well as exes’ in your system as mentioned in step 2 and step 3 respectively. Don’t run those patches and exes’ directly from the adobe site.

Follow the procedure and Install the patches exactly as mentioned. You will be able to run the RoboHelp X5 without any activation.  🙂

New Features in Captivate 4

November 25, 2009

As I mentioned in my earlier post on Captivate, I always enjoy using Captivate and admire its user-friendly features. Adobe has released Captivate 4 recently.

Here is the list of my favourite features:

  • Panning While Recording
  • Widgets
  • Project and Design Templates
  • Table of Contents
  • Single or Multiple SWF Output
  • Text-to-speech Captions
  • Captivate Reviewer
  • Photoshop Layer Support

To read a detailed review on Captivate 4, read Scott DeLoach’s article in http://writerua.com.

The most bothering drawback is Captivate 4 help system is not context-sensitive.

Ten important Points to Remember While Creating an Online Help

October 15, 2009

 

I started testing my hand with online help three years before. From then, it’s always my favourite cup of tea. There are a lot of room for logical and analytical thinking in an online help. While reviewing an online help, few points came into my mind which I believe are very vital for an online help. Here we go:

1)  Know your needs

Rather than saying know your needs, I’d say know your client’s need. The fact of being you a RoboHelp guru, it doesn’t mean that your client should be happy to accept a webhelp output from you. He may be comfortable with a .chm file. But make sure your learning curve doesn’t get affected by your client’s preferred Help Authoring Tools (HAT).

2)  Track back often with your Developers

Once the application development stage moves to freezing point, you may start your online help. But still few UI changes may occur. So better you track your developers’ path to avoid any last minute confusion.  Any client will wish to read an updated (including images) online help.

3)  Learn HTML before you start

Though you have WYSWYG environment nowadays, it’s always better to learn some html tags before you start. Most of the HATs’ will add their own junk codes. If you’re html literate; it’s easy for you to fix it in later stage.

4)  Design your Style sheet first

Before getting started with your online help, you make sure you have a standard, well defined style sheet in hand. In the middle of the process, re-thinking about a table header column style is not a wise idea. List your needs and in rare case you can include a new style (only in rare case, don’t make it a habit).

5)  Analyse and freeze your TOC

Before starting an online help, it’s always recommended that first do a research and freeze your TOC. It will help you to structure your help.  If you’re curious about single sourcing, it’s always recommended to have a structured TOC.

6)  A picture is worth of thousand words

Add images, flow diagrams in right places. But your user will get irritated with irrelevant and excess images. Showing a confirmation image with an OK button and Cancel button in the online help is not a great idea.

7)  Link the links properly

One general thumb rule for all online helps is “Write shorter, link them properly”.  Instead of writing two page lengthy instructions, give correct hyperlinks at right place. Don’t forget to include a relevant ‘See Also’ section in an online help.

8)  Add a Glossary and Index

Adding a glossary section in an online help is always a great idea. You can include smart definitions and acronyms in a glossary. Every user will like a crispy index section. Pick out mostly used keywords from every page and index it. Make sure your index keywords make sense. Adding ‘HAT’ as a keyword is a good idea than adding ‘because’ as a keyword in the index section.

9)  Hotspots and pop-ups

Giving too much of hyperlinks may sometimes backfire you. Sometimes, the user may hesitate to click your hyperlinks as he may be curious to stay within the same page. During such scenarios, introduce hotspots and pop-ups to keep your user in the same page.

10)  Get the feedback

Once your online help gets shipped with the product, don’t stay back as if you’re done with that. Try to figure out any gap between the application and your help by including yourself in the client’s feedback e-mails. You might have missed a warning message or a pre-requisite step required to fetch a row from the database.


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