Adobe And The Tech Writer’s Suite

Saying the technical writer’s market is vastly underserved, Adobe Systems today announced Adobe Technical Communication Suite software, a collection of its publishing tools geared for authors of technical documentation.

The suite is built around RoboHelp 7, an upgrade to Adobe’s help system and knowledge base authoring tool and the second update to RoboHelp this year. At the beginning of the year, RoboHelp looked like it was languishing after going years without an update. But not any more.

Also in the box is FrameMaker 8, Captivate 3 and Acrobat 3D 8. There is product and workflow integration between all of the applications, allowing authors to write their documentation in a variety of rich media formats, including Flash SWF, MP3 and AVI, along with more traditional help file formats, like PDF, XML and Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA).

These applications will help authors write help files for everything from an application’s help system to rich media eLearning courses, and Adobe this market was underserved. “We’re really going to change the way technical documentation is authored and published,” said Michael Hu, senior product marketing manager at Adobe. “By bringing these products out in a suite, I think we’re going to redefine how stuff is authored in a technical environment.”

The suite is built around RoboHelp 7, which will also be sold as a stand-alone product. This new version features bi-directional updates with FrameMaker 8, so as a document is changed in either RoboHelp or FrameMaker, the changes appear in both applications, there is no need for importing or updating the document.

RoboHelp 7 also adds Unicode support for publishing in multiple languages, support for automated wizards and topic templates for building things like table of contents, indexes, glossaries, graphics, sound, video, simulations and navigation, and the ability to generate multiple tables of content and apply conditional tags, index items, folders, and tailor output for specific purposes and formats.

FrameMaker 8 was introduced in July of this year and comes with support for 3D, DITA, XML and Unicode formats, plus integration with Adobe Captivate 3 and Acrobat 3D version 8. Acrobat 3d allows for 3D document design and collaborative development. It allows for importing CAD  images to make 3D PDF files as well.

This seems like a lot for documentation, which is usually text. Adobe is trying to liven things up a bit. “Technical documents are static and flat. This can make it more interactive and bring it to life,” said Hu.

Adobe Technical Communication Suite will be available by the end of October 2007 for $1,599, or for the upgrade price of $999 if customers have prior versions of Adobe Captivate, FrameMaker or RoboHelp.

RoboHelp 7 and RoboHelp Server 7 will be available by the end of October 2007 at an estimated price of $999 for RoboHelp 7 and $1,999 for RoboHelp Server 7. Customers of RoboHelp 6 and RoboHelp Server 6 can upgrade for an estimated price of $79 and $160, respectively.

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