This week Adobe is announcing its latest release of its Technical Communication Suite — 2015 Release. Like many other software vendors, Adobe is doing away with version numbers like TCS 3, TCS 4, and moving to a year-numbered system. As a lucky beta tester, I was privileged to get an early peek at the software and provide feedback.
At my company, we primarily use the FrameMaker, RoboHelp, and Acrobat components of the suite, so that’s what I primarily tested. We write in unstructured FrameMaker (sending files out for translation into several different languages) and link the FrameMaker files in RoboHelp to output context-sensitive, responsive HTML5 help systems. With every release of the TCS, this process has improved, and this version is no exception.
Adobe continues to listen to what its users need and, sooner or later, desired features make their way into the suite. This release is ground-breaking in that regard. For years, users have requested right-to-left (RTL) capabilities for languages like Arabic and Hebrew. In this release, RTL languages are fully supported, in an intuitive and well-thought-out way. RoboHelp users who clamored for an updated user interface will be pleased with the new ribbon UI, familiar to users of Microsoft Office. The UI can also be adjusted for a lighter or darker look, similar to other Adobe products. All the RoboHelp icons have been redesigned as well, resulting in a fresh new feel.
A new, ground-breaking feature in this release is “Dynamic Content Filtering,” which will allow the users of my help systems to filter the content as they need. For example, if our users have purchased only a portion of our software suite, they would be able to filter the help contents—with a single click—to only see the help that applies to them. Behind the scenes in RoboHelp, this requires tagging of text with sets of conditions and setting up the filter sets. RoboHelp has improved the appearance of conditional text tagging; no more cross-hatching!
An exciting new option is a completely redesigned HTML5 layout. I’ll be making use of this layout right away, because I love the quick, modern, animated feel and my users will too. It’s also much easier to customize the new layout; you can hide tabs like the index or the glossary if you don’t use them, and you can decide whether mobile users will see a banner.
To me, it’s the “smaller” improvements that will make my life truly easier: better search results in my help output (including no longer highlighting “stop” words in search results!), easier customization of the help appearance, better find-and-replace in RoboHelp, and the
snazzy new layout, combined with solid performance of the suite components, will make me a happy customer of the new TCS 2015.
Lead Technical Writer
Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc.
About our guest blogger: Alexandra has over 20 years of experience in the technical writing field, primarily using FrameMaker and RoboHelp. She has been the Lead Technical Writer at Vectorworks (www.vectorworks.net) for the past 15 years, where she creates responsive HTML5 help in English, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese. After studying Biology in college, Alexandra went on to get a teaching degree and has enjoyed various other careers, including environmental chemist, high school teacher, technical trainer, and videographer. In addition to her current position, she owns a part-time event videography company.