Steps in Developing a Simple Web-Based Tutorial in RoboHelp
by Ron Kurtus (revised 25 March 2001)
As was explained in the previous lesson, Using RoboHelp to Develop a Simple Web-Based Tutorial, RoboHelp can be used to develop simple web-based tutorials. These can be posted as either DHTML or Java pages.
Questions you may have include:
- What is the difference between the DHTML and Java versions?
- What are the steps involved in developing such a tutorial in RoboHelp?
- How do you choose what to use?
This lesson will answer those questions.
A tutorial can be written using a standard HTML pages. The steps below give an example of this. It fits the bill, but it is not very elegant. Using Dynamic HTML (DHTML) or Java allows you to add the side outline menu, which may be useful in many situations for navigation.
DHTML has a disadvantage in that it is not very Netscape-compatible. If all your viewers are using Internet Explorer, this is the route to go. An example of this tutorial is at:
- Developing Tutorial in RoboHelp HTML. (DHTML version)
Java is more cross-platform-compatible, and most people have Java-enabled browsers. On the negative side, the Java application takes longer to load. An example of the tutorial done in Java is at:
- Developing Tutorial in RoboHelp HTML. (Java version)
The very first thing you should do in developing a tutorial is to be familiar enough with the subject matter that you can write the content. Then you can go through the following steps:
- Start project in RoboHelp HTML
- Develop content in web pages
- Import pages into RoboHelp HTML
- Create a table of contents
- Create browsing sequence
- Index pages
- Deliver tutorial
1. Start project in RoboHelp HTML
Start RoboHelp HTML. You will have to name your project, location for files, and name of the first topic.
You now have the option of using RoboHelp to develop your web pages or to use another, more familiar web-development tool such as Microsoft FrontPage or Macromedia Dreamweaver. If you use one of these tools, it is a good idea to develop the pages in another directory and then import them into RoboHelp. This is because RoboHelp adds special HTML code in many pages.
The problem with using RoboHelp HTML is that you are really developing the web pages in Microsoft Word, and that is not the best Web tool to use.
2. Develop Content
Let's go under the assumption that you develop your content in FrontPage or Dreamweaver. This should be done in a folder other than the one used for your RoboHelp project.
As you complete pages, you can import them into RoboHelp, or you can wait until you compete them all.
The first page of your content should have the same name as the first page you defined in RoboHelp. When you import it, you will overwrite the original file.
3. Import pages into RoboHelp HTML
Once you are finished with your content, you can import all of your pages into RoboHelp. This is done from the menu: File > Import > HTML File.
If you have graphics files associated with your pages, they are also imported.
4. Create a table of contents
The Help Table of Contents is the way to organize your material in a logical order.
- Click on the TOC tab to open the Table of Contents window on the left side.
- Choose the New Book icon on the menu bar. Name the book.
- Continue, as needed.
- Click the Topics tab under the right window.
- Drag topics beneath the appropriate books.
5. Create browsing sequence
Browsing sequence buttons can be included at the top of each page. From the menu bar, select Tools > Browsing Sequence Editor. You can often use the TOC Order sequence, unless you have special order to define.
6. Index Pages
An index is important for users to find what they want in a large online help. It probably is not as important in a small tutorial, since steps you usually in a sequence. But it still may be a nice feature to add for the user.
In this example, there is no index included.
7. Compile Tutorial
Once you have everything completed, you can compile the tutorial as WebHelp. This means you have your HTML pages, along with the typical help outline in the left window pane.
- To compile, from the menu, select File > Generate > WebHelp. RoboHelp will compile the files in a separate WebHelp folder.
- You have a choice of including a TOC, index, search, and browse sequences. In our application, we did not include the search capability.
- You can also format the help as Dynamic HTML or as a Java applet. To make sure you can use most browsers, choose Java.
8. Deliver tutorial
Once you have compiled and tested your tutorial, you can copy all the files in the WebHelp folder to an appropriate place in your web site.
Choose according to audience
In selecting what means to deliver your tutorial or other online material, it is best to carefully study your audience, theirs needs, and the type of equipment they are using. Too often people get so enamored with technology gadgets that they forget the purpose of the material they are to present.
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.
If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will
Resources and references
The following resources provide information on this subject:
WritersUA - Resource for online writers
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)
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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Steps in Developing a Simple Web-Based Tutorial in RoboHelp