Quality is Innovation

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Often in pursuit of new features, quality takes a hit.  Quality is obviously the most important part of any software application. A feature delivers customer value only when it is stable and can be used consistently.  I believe there are a few aspects of quality we need to pay close attention to in the context of HATs.

1. Value to the customer – A new feature must deliver incremental value to the customer.  For example, at present, RoboHelp can export to FrameMaker today in two steps, (a) export the project to RTF, and (b) import the RTF into FrameMaker.  For a new feature, “export to FrameMaker” to add value, it should be significantly better than this existing option.

2. Availability to all end-users – A feature should depend on only those third party products which are widely available. This is one of the main reasons why RoboHelp exports to Microsoft Word for creating PDF and not FrameMaker.

Update- Adobe RoboHelp 6 uses Acrobat Elements to create Adobe PDF. You can do that directly from RoboHelp. Word is only an intermediate step in PDF generation.

3. Ease of use – If a new feature is hard to use, the value of the feature is limited.

4. Promised vs. available set of features – There is an increasing trend of promising features in the later versions. This makes the comparison of HATs an exercise in futility. Also,a customer can use only what exists today, not what will come 12 months later.

I believe it is time to return to fundamental principle of software delivery- Quality.

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Posts from multiple members of the Adobe TechComm team.

5 thoughts to “Quality is Innovation”

  1. Hi,Thanks again for the blog.To pick nits:”4. Promised vs. available set of features – There is an increasing trend of promising features in the later versions. This makes the comparison of HATs an exercise in futility. Also,a customer can use only what exists today, not what will come 12 months later.”That’s like saying since there will be new models of car in the future, you cannot compare current models of car.I disagree with your thought that because companies are always planning newer versions of their products, you cannot compare the current versions of their products.Indeed, right now, I could compare RoboHelp, WebWorks Publisher, AuthorIt, Doc-to-Help, and Flare in a FrameMaker shop regardless of what those companies may or may not offer in the future.However, your aim to increase the integration of RH and FM is a great one that I applaud! It would be wonderful if there was no need to work on content in both FM and RH, but if we could just work on the content in FM and use RH as an engine for producing online help and HTML from our FM content. (The WebWorks model.)Cheers. An extract from the Adobe Technical Communication FAQ – Over time customers of both RoboHelp and FrameMaker will see benefits from both products being developed by one company. -Vivek

  2. 1) Since when has RH exported as a RTF? It will create a DOC ad then you can save that as RTF, and import that into FrameMaker. So that really is a 3 step process. This is not truely single source. It would be interesting to know what’s your purpose of moving content from RoboHelp to FrameMaker. In our conversations with most customers, this has not come as a requirement. Most customers prefer to import FrameMaker content in RoboHelp. On a separate note, FrameMaker can import MS Word content. I have used RTF and doc format interchangeably in the above post. – Vivek2) Its great to Know that Adobe won’t use Adobe Software to Create its PDF, It want to use Microsoft Products. Adobe RoboHelp 6 uses Acrobat Elements to create PDF which is an Adobe product. And you can do that directly from RoboHelp. Word is only an intermediate step in PDF generation. You therefore get the best quality Adobe PDF. -Vivek 3) How is ease of use When you remove Functions from RoboServer. Yet leave the UI telling me the function is still there? The feedback on quality of the natural language search in RoboEngine has been mixed. Also, most customers prefer to enter keywords and not type the complete question.I believe you are referring to the UI in Adobe RoboHelp 6, which is to enable Adobe RoboHelp 6 customers to continue working with RoboEngine 4. – Vivek4) So I should Wait 12 months for Adobe’s next release, but have no clue what features it may or may not have? What about Snippets that was promised in RH 6, but it was not there, or the customizeable interface that is not there. As Adobe policy, we do not disclose product features, 30 days prior to the ship of the product. This is consistent across all Adobe products. I don’t think we have promised the features you mentioned above. However, I accept this as a feature request from you. – Vivek

  3. “Quality is obviously the most important part of any software application.”I prefer to define quality as a precondition to software developement, not a part of it.

  4. Hello Vivek,I am very familiar with supporting RoboHelp and I truly would like a full answer on this issue of the $2000 search and reporting server you’re marketing.My beef is in the price point for the RoboHelp Engine product which you’re offering with nothing more compelling than bug fixes and the removal of the natural language search. On top of that issue, your reviewer actually stated that ‘nobody uses NLS’ and I have yet to hear from him about whether that was with RoboHelp Engine users or with the majority of web based search.I hear what you’re saying in your post, but it doesn’t reflect the reality of what’s going on with RoboEngine and the way it’s being presented. Natural language based search capabilities have been replaced by keyword based search. The feedback on quality of the natural language search in RoboEngine has been mixed. Most people now prefer to use keyword search and are more comfortable typing a few keywords rather than typing a complete question. -Vivek

  5. I know it is just an example, but I would still like to say that exporting from RoboHelp to FrameMaker maybe useful from time to time, but does not help in creating a single-source publishing environment.Documents which need pagination (PDF) need quite a bit more formatting effort than topics shown in browsers (Online Help). Therefore it is easier to create a conversion that “throws away” page-related stuff to create HTML instead of adding page layout information later on. Also, only a “live” connection between source documents and different output formats allows real single source publishing workflows.Well, to my ears this sounds a lot like ‘Robohelp for FrameMaker’ instead of ‘Framemaker for RoboHelp’.- Michael

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