Welcome BACK

Wednesday, March 12 2008 @ 7:13 PM, By Akshay Madan

,,,,,

As you all know, RoboHelp experienced some turbulent times in the past while it was with Macromedia. I believe RoboHelp was declared “Dead” in one of the WritersUA conference. This led some of RoboHelp customers to migrate to other products and most importantly MadCap Flare as it was positioned as a replacement for RoboHelp. But as soon as Adobe got hold of RoboHelp and Captivate, things changed. We could clearly see we had all the products (FrameMaker, RoboHelp, Captivate and Acrobat) that a Technical Communicator would ever need and hence that led to creation of a brand new Suite – Adobe Technical Communication Suite. Since Adobe RoboHelp is one of the main applications in this suite, we have invested heavily in the same and have released two versions of the same. The last version – Adobe RoboHelp 7 is considered as the biggest release in the history of the product.

While we were developing products and gearing up for the Technical Communication suite, we attended a number of conferences and met a number of Technical Communicators – the actual users of the products. One of the biggest requests that we heard from a small community was a migration path back from Flare to RoboHelp. This community includes those who were early adopters of MadCap Flare and had made a change of the Authoring tool while there were fears of RoboHelp being “Dead”. We wanted to help these customers come back to RoboHelp, but at the same time we did not want to invest in writing this piece of code as it was targeted at a very small community. We also did a survey and posted a blog to gauge interest and size of this community (refer blog posted by Vivek Jain – Migrating from Flare to RoboHelp). We found that this community was not growing as the migration had stopped as we succeeded in establishing faith back in RoboHelp by releasing Adobe RoboHelp 6 back in January 2007.  All of this led us not to invest in this space.

However, John Daigle of Evergreen Online Learning, LLC has worked on a utility that can help this small community of customers (existing Flare users who want to come back RoboHelp). It is available free of cost and can be downloaded by filling just 6 form entries. You can get one from here – http://www.showmethedemo.com/flare-to-robohelp/flare-to-robohelp.htm.

Though John did apprise me that he was working on a utility and asked me to answer some simple questions from time to time, but I never asked and he never shared what exactly he was doing. But when I saw this working today, I was completely amazed at how easy, simple and fast it is. So if you are a Flare customer and want to convert your project to a RoboHelp, all you need to do is, download the converter utility (1 minute job) and specify the Flare project that you want to convert and provide a name of the new RoboHelp project and press OK (another 1 minutes) and you are done. Double click the RoboHelp project (the .xpj file) and you are up and running. If that was not enough, he has another gift for you – he is providing the source code of this utility to the end customers under Common Public License again free of cost.

I will now be able to greet Long Beach and STC Minneapolis customers who had asked for a migration path with a smile on my face – Welcome BACK to RoboHelp. And this won’t have happened without John’s initiative. I personally thank John for investing in this converter business and working for the RoboHelp Community.

- Akshay

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