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Using RoboHelp to Develop a Simple Web-Based Tutorial

by Ron Kurtus (revised 4 May 2003)

RoboHelp is a top application for developing online help. It is also used for developing Web-based help, such as JavaHelp and RoboHelp's WebHelp. Besides being used for online or Web-help, RoboHelp can also be used to develop simple tutorials.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.



Online help software

The top applications for developing online help are RoboHelp and Doc-to-Help. Both are good and have similar features and capabilities. Each is expensive enough to discourage the casual user. There are also some other less expensive--but not very popular--programs available.

Industry standard

Since RoboHelp is apparently the "industry standard" in the technical documentation arena, this lesson will concern using it, as opposed to one of the others. The principles used are similar in all of the applications, provided they have the same capabilities and features used.

RoboHelp HTML

RoboHelp Office consists of the standard RoboHelp--used for developing WinHelp--and RoboHelp HTML, which allows you to develop HTML Help, JavaHelp and WebHelp.

HTML Help is the format Microsoft is now using in their Office 2000 products. It consists of a compressed file that explodes into a series of HTML help files.

WebHelp is a form of HTML Help provided in RoboHelp HTML, without the compressed file, thus making it suitable for use on the Internet. WebHelp can be delivered as DHTML or Java-based.

JavaHelp is a format that is used in few applications and is completely based on Java.

Using as tutorial

There is a slight difference between online help and a tutorial. Online help is usually logically arranged in a table of contents, but its index feature is most often used to find words and expressions of which the user is unsure.

On the other hand, a tutorial is usually linearly ordered, with no need to jump around. The help system can be effective for simple tutorials. The outline paradigm, with the contents in little books on the side, is handy for the user to locate special areas in the tutorial.

Example of tutorial in RoboHelp HTML

The following is a an example of a tutorial developed in RoboHelp HTML's WebHelp. It goes through the steps required to develop that tutorial.

First try the DHTML version. If your browser does not accept DHTML, try the Java version, which takes somewhat longer to download. Study the example and then complete this lesson.

Developing Tutorial in RoboHelp HTML. (DHTML version)

Developing Tutorial in RoboHelp HTML. (Java version)

This same tutorial is also available as a standard HTML page. Since this is a very short tutorial, the HTML version is actually easier to use. With more complex subjects, the online help versions may be more effective.

Developing Tutorial in RoboHelp HTML (Standard HTML page)

Summary

You can use RoboHelp HTML or other online web-based help development tools to create simple online tutorials. They have the familiar help look to them and are easily navigated.


Write so others may learn


Resources and references

Author's Credentials

The following resources provide information on this subject:

Websites

Adobe RoboHelp

WritersUA - Resource for online writers

Society for Technical Communication

Technical Writing Resources

Books on RoboHelp

Essentials of RoboHelp HTML X5 by Kevin A. Siegel ($29.75)

Robohelp for the Web by John Hedtke, et al ($32.97)

RoboHELP 2000 Bible (with CD-ROM) by John Hedtke, Elisabeth Knottingham; ($27.99)

Top-rated books on Technical Writing


Questions and comments

Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.


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