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Considering RH instead of a knowledge base tool

Explorer ,
Dec 06, 2016

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A current engagement is to move a client's documentation to a knowledge base type solution, and we have been asked to identify and evaluate possible tools.

They showed an example of a site they liked so we could discuss what they like about it--pretty standard stuff.

They only want one or two people to be able to author the content, so a wiki is not needed. They thought they needed a KB because they thought, based on how their ancient help looks, that RH was only capable of screen/reference-based help (and they'd need a different tool to do task-based help!).

Their copy of RH is too far out-of-date for upgrade pricing but I think it may still be a worthwhile option for project mgmt. and because a nice-to-have is responsive design which I'm not sure the KB tools offer (haven't gotten that far with them yet). The existing RH project will be scrapped, so it's not a factor to reuse that content (if ever the trash can icon was appropriate it's here). So far I've found that RH can meet the following requests:

  • primarily search-based, no tri-pane
  • a way for users to say if topic is helpful (Y/N), feedback form, contact Support
  • dynamic content for different versions
  • can use Google Analytics to track usage

Now here's where I'm out of my depth: normally we have nothing to do with the hosting of our outputs - we give the clients the output (usually Webhelp or HTML5) and they do whatever they need to do with it. The current client asked about hosting and web servers. Is there anything magical about RobohelpServer to warrant the $10,000 cost? Or can they serve up the content themselves effectively with other means? They do currently have a portal and may just "throw the help on there".

They plan to have the technical discussions with vendors once I provide a short-list of options, including pricing, for them to run with and decide on. But if RHServer is a "must", that's a big dollar figure to be considered.

I appreciate the collective wisdom (including, possibly off-list, any tips or experience with kb tools!),

Laurie

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Considering RH instead of a knowledge base tool

Explorer ,
Dec 06, 2016

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A current engagement is to move a client's documentation to a knowledge base type solution, and we have been asked to identify and evaluate possible tools.

They showed an example of a site they liked so we could discuss what they like about it--pretty standard stuff.

They only want one or two people to be able to author the content, so a wiki is not needed. They thought they needed a KB because they thought, based on how their ancient help looks, that RH was only capable of screen/reference-based help (and they'd need a different tool to do task-based help!).

Their copy of RH is too far out-of-date for upgrade pricing but I think it may still be a worthwhile option for project mgmt. and because a nice-to-have is responsive design which I'm not sure the KB tools offer (haven't gotten that far with them yet). The existing RH project will be scrapped, so it's not a factor to reuse that content (if ever the trash can icon was appropriate it's here). So far I've found that RH can meet the following requests:

  • primarily search-based, no tri-pane
  • a way for users to say if topic is helpful (Y/N), feedback form, contact Support
  • dynamic content for different versions
  • can use Google Analytics to track usage

Now here's where I'm out of my depth: normally we have nothing to do with the hosting of our outputs - we give the clients the output (usually Webhelp or HTML5) and they do whatever they need to do with it. The current client asked about hosting and web servers. Is there anything magical about RobohelpServer to warrant the $10,000 cost? Or can they serve up the content themselves effectively with other means? They do currently have a portal and may just "throw the help on there".

They plan to have the technical discussions with vendors once I provide a short-list of options, including pricing, for them to run with and decide on. But if RHServer is a "must", that's a big dollar figure to be considered.

I appreciate the collective wisdom (including, possibly off-list, any tips or experience with kb tools!),

Laurie

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Dec 06, 2016 0
LEGEND ,
Dec 06, 2016

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Hopefully johndaigle​ will see this and pop in to advise. But as I understand it, RoboHelp server provides special reporting capabilities so you can learn what topics are accessed most often or not. I believe t also offers other options such as a management ability to control sections and restrict them to certain user groups.

As for the "was this helpful" sort of thing, that may be only possible if you are using RoboHelp Server with AIR based output. Perhaps John will shed more light on that too.

For most of the basic functionality, a typical web server does just fine.

Cheers... Rick

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Dec 06, 2016 0
Explorer ,
Dec 08, 2016

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Thanks Rick

While we're waiting for johndaigle (or anyone else) to chime in, I have another question about RH's handling of typical KB behaviours:

Obviously RH can handle related articles - but is there any way to display recently viewed topics (with or without RHServer)? I don't think this is a show-stopper, but want to evaluate RH and KB tools on the same criteria.

Laurie

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Dec 08, 2016 0
LEGEND ,
Dec 08, 2016

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I'm not John, but I hope he won't mind me popping in.

RoboHelp server primarily serves as a platform to host the help so that you can get metrics and have access control for projects. The AIR help has some more options, but it is an older layout and isn't receiving much love. I would personally not invest in AirHelp if I can help it. You can allow user comments with Airhelp, but you could also use a free platform like Disqus for that (https://www.wvanweelden.eu/blog/2014/09/02/add-disqus-commenting-robohelp-output ). I've tried the Airhelp comments, but I wasn't able to get it to work.

You can run a knowledge base without RoboHelp server without a sweat. For features like 'was this useful' you can build a few HTML forms or features into a layout and use that.

The big difference between RoboHelp and FAQ tools is that for FAQ tools (or open source CMS systems. check them out too!) is that they are database driven. If you need the power of a database where you can create new links immediately without having to publish, then you have something RoboHelp isn't very good at.

A department at my company was looking for an FAQ tool as well. I helped them out with RoboHelp, but it didn't suit there needs because they wanted to add articles dynamically and change the search order of topics based on how often they were used. (And there were some requirements I forgot about.) They ended up quitting RoboHelp and going towards Zendesk.

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Dec 08, 2016 0
Explorer ,
Dec 08, 2016

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Thanks for the response, Willam, and for the link to the Disqus commenting, I've filed that away for other projects if not this one.

Re your comment about RH not being suitable for changing the search order of topics based on how often they were used - this makes me think that my earlier question re "Recently viewed" topics would similarly only be served by a database solution, not possible in RH. Is that a fair conclusion?

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Dec 08, 2016 0
LEGEND ,
Dec 09, 2016

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Yes. Recently viewed is not possible in RoboHelp AFAIK. But perhaps John has a hidden nugget that I don't know about.

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