Adobe AIR – Revolutionizing the World of Online Help

Tuesday, July 8 2008 @ 2:01 PM, By adobe

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Adobe AIR runtime enables applications to deliver both the benefits of server connectivity and the compelling end user experience of a desktop application.  With a seamless offline- online experience, end-users of Adobe AIR applications can continue to work when they are temporarily offline. 

Neither of the popular help output options – CHM or WebHelp or WebHelp on a Server provide the array of features as Adobe AIR does today.  That said, in my opinion, RoboHelp Packager for Adobe AIR is a beginning, beginning of a new revolution in help authoring.  Here is a list of what you get today-

  • Adobe AIR applications that can update themselves when online connection is available and that can work perfectly when desktop is offline.  For example, Adobe AIR help file created with RoboHelp Packager for Adobe AIR will prompt the end-users when an update is available.  With a single click, the help file will update itself.
  • Adobe AIR applications can store information locally – for example, when you add comments to Online Help, they are stored locally and can be viewed after you have closed the application.  End users can also comment on external pages and store the comments as part of help file.  Comments are still available when Online Help has been updated (provided file names don’t change) or when you are offline.
  • Unlike HTML Help which depends on the CHM viewer, the functionality of the Adobe AIR is extensible and customizable.  For example, organizations can add branding information to Adobe AIR help file, including icons for help file, branding imagery on the top of the help file and so on.
  • Adobe AIR help file also allows you to open multiple tabs within the tri-pane enabling multiple help topics and threads to be navigated at the same time. 
  • You can also add resource links to your help files – enabling a single access point for product pages, user forums, knowledge base, online help and external web pages. 
  • Organizations get to chose from several of the templates and can select a particular skin or theme for each of these templates.  With RoboHelp Packager for Adobe AIR, there are three templates come out of the box – Multi-Tab Accordion, Unipane and Classic Help. 
  • RoboHelp Packager for Adobe AIR enables the help users to customize their help by selecting their preferences (something they can’t do for a CHM or for WebHelp output – which is not hosted on a Server).
  • Adobe AIR is cross-platform and cross-browser, supported on Windows, Mac and Linux (currently in pre-release). 

Needless to say, Adobe AIR has attracted a lot of interest among the help community and some of the experts believe that within two years, Adobe AIR will be the preferred help format for 40% of all help authors.  The only debating point is whether Adobe AIR will mainly replace CHM/HTML Help, or if it will take share away from WebHelp as well.

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