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.