RH 2019 Review – Version 14.0.8
For anyone interested here's my review of RoboHelp (RH) 2019 Update 8.
Note that I posted this earlier in the week on the old forums but it didn't come over with the new forum changeover. So here it is again, with some minor updates.
And speaking of the old forum (sigh)... I don't like what I've seen so far in the editor to create new content for the forum. First off, I can't indent text! We all know white space is good for readability. Secondly, I can only use this ugly serif font, Times New Roman or whatever this is. Thirdly... okay, I'll shut up now. This isn't a review of the forums, but perhaps I'll do that one in a later post.)
About this Review
I did this review to determine if RH 2019 offered significant reasons for me to upgrade my software and my projects. I'm currently using RH 2017. I downloaded the trial version (14.0.8) about a month ago and started comparing it against the latest RH 2017, listing the things I liked etc. Below are my pros / cons etc. and my recommendation on whether to upgrade at the end.
Note that RH 2019 comes in two modes. Classic and new (or "re-imagined"). The new mode is the default, but you can launch an older project in classic mode. In fact, running an .xpj launches RH 2019 in classic mode until you tell it to upgrade to the new mode. Classic mode behaves the same as RH 2017 did, same UI and same functionality with possibly some bug fixes.
Most of my comments below are from comparing RH 2017 against the new mode. Where I discuss the classic mode, I use "classic" in parentheses to indicate that.
Issues to Fix After Upgrading a RH 2017 Project to 2019
Items I Couldn't Research
I wanted to research these with my converted files but wasn't ever able to due to bugs:
What does our printable output look like in the pdf? Can we get by without post processing in word?
How does a merged HTML5 help system compare with RH 2017's? Is the Speed of search results in merged HTML5 help improved? Speed of opening a large merged HTML5 help output?
Questions and Concerns
Should You Upgrade? Final Observations
Anyway, for us, to upgrade to the new "Re-Imagined" RoboHelp 2019 would require me to manually adjust or fix a multitude of things that currently work just fine in RH 2017. The gains at the moment do not outweigh the amount work I'd have to do just to get my outputs behaving like they already do in RH 2017.
Your experience may not not be the same as mine, but I suspect that other Help projects that have been around a while or that are heavy on customizations (custom style sheets, custom java scripts, custom output destinations, and so on) may not convert cleanly and you'll be left with a lot of manual fixing to do. Get the trial and test it out. I'd be interested if that has been your experience and what Adobe's response has been.
Something else to keep in mind is that all indications point to the fact that the "Re-Imagined" RH (non-classic) is what will get Adobe's attention, time, money, and development energy going forward. The classic mode will likely "die the vine" so to speak, and I doubt it'll be enhanced in coming years. I'm not sure where that leaves those of us who have been long-standing RH customers but who can't afford the overhead needed to manually fix up all the issues of upgrading to the new RH.
Hope something here helps someone else. Good luck with your own endeavors with RH 2019!
What you said here really sums it up for me.
The gains at the moment do not outweigh the amount work I'd have to do just to get my outputs behaving like they already do in RH 2017.
The product feels rushed. Not having the export to Word, for example. Converting projects isn't work the hassle. So much stuff needsd to be fixed.
For now, I'm going back to the old version of RH.
Finally, having two names for the same product reflects this confused delivery.
Thanks for taking the time to write up this detailed review, Jared. We're also debating about converting our projects to the "re-imagined" rh2019. Many of our projects are large legacy projects that have been through many RH releases. One of the pros of the new release is the Collaboration feature, which works great, but it seems that usabilitywise, this release has taken a few steps back - for many of the reasons you've mentioned. I can't use CTRL+W to preview a selected topic. Now I have to open the topic in the editor for that shortcut to work. Also, it seems I can't use CTRL+P to print a topic in the editor or in preview mode. Since, I can't view the editor and the TOC windows side-by-side anymore, I can't create links by dragging & dropping a page in the TOC onto selected text. Also, several files I guess Adobe considered uncessesary to the project were deleted during the conversion process. For example, the Word templates we use for generating Word documents.
I am concerned about the conversion process moving our CSS file into the Assets folder, I need to see how that impacts the generated topics. I could go on. But I won't.
I will check out some of the other issues (i.e., cons) you pointed out. They'll give us more food for thought as we make a decision on converting the rest of our projects. By the way, I just installed the 2019.0.9 patch and we have the output option to generate Word docs.
I'm glad they put Word back in and searching across the project. Finally...
I was told Word still had some issues that some things didn't generate right so hopefully it turns out well for you.
Thanks for looking at RoboHelp 2019 and sharing your detailed review. Let me respond to the same from Adobe's side.
Classic project migration:
From the beginning this has been one of our top priority focus area. We know that if existing projects don't migrate well people will be very reluctant to upgrade. Tricky part is, which you have also covered, over the years projects have evolved in their own unique ways and it is challenging to take care of all the scenarios in an exhausting way. For this we need support from the users to share their issues with us. We have worked with every user who have reached out to us and helped with the project upgrade.
Many things in 2019 work differently, we are strictly adhering to the HTML5 and CSS3 standards and that makes some things incompatible during upgrade especially styling. Classic has many non-css way for styling, e.g. space characters for padding. This creates conflict and may require users to manually fix some parts of it. Output are all based on HTML5 now so classic WebHelp won't work as it is. These are some of the areas which may require extra work after the migration but our attempt has been to minimize the extra effort as much as possible.
It went live on Sep 11 and has two major gaps covered which you have also pointed out, Word output and Find/Replace across project. Apart from these there are a bunch of enhancements and fixes.
Feedback taken for the following, we will try to take care of ASAP:
Need cooperation on the following because they are project/scenario specific
2019 release provides us modern platform to innovate and respond to user's need faster. Without getting into the debate of timing of 2019 release, I will suggest let's look forward. From Adobe's side we are fully committed to take our users along and provide a happy experience. You will continue to see the evolution at a rapid pace and we look forward to your support in that journey.
There are four sections: 1. Thing you want to see (TOC, Contents ...) 2. The thing you selected in 1. 3. The main window. 4. Properties etc. So, select TOC in 1. --> The list of all your TOCs is displayed in 2. Select desired TOC in 2 and double click. --> TOC opens in 3. Now Select contents in 1 --> Contents open in 2.
I am using update 9, but it also worked before.
I must say this pretty much echoes my experience when testing the upgrade. I'd consider trying 2019 in the event I get a new job or have to start a brand new project. But the aggro involved in problem solving,fixing and testing every single topic, graphic and feature until the 2019 help works like it did straight out of the box with 2017, is just too much to take on.
Im sure 2019 offers a lot of benefits to a new user compared to the old version, when starting from scratch. And I look forward to using it in future.
Jared makes some valid points that Adobe have responded to. It's important to keep in mind that some of his projects are complex and Adobe have offered to assist. I have referrred issues seen here to them and they have worked on them.
There are some feature issues that can make an upgrade difficult but I don't think I have seen anyone have to "fix every single topic, graphic and feature."
My experience has been similar to johnvarvatsis. I've had to do a huge amount of fixing to get things to work.
Adobe has offered to help but couldn't fix the issues, esp CSS.
I've used Adobe products for 20+ years but this feels like it has not been tested properly at all. It feels rushed.
Re: I don't think I have seen anyone have to "fix every single topic, graphic and feature." I had to go thru each page and fix html issues. The import is very brittle.
Hopefully the next release - please give it a proper name! - will be more robust... otherwise we'll have to seriously consider Madcap.
Sorry Peter, I was probably being a bit melodramatic there. I should have said "review and possibly tweak" every topic graphic and feature. " I'm a happy 2017 user who won't move to 2019 until I can make a fresh start with a new project.
Hi, I'm way late to this party, but I just upgraded from RH 2015 to RH 2020 and it hasn't worked for me. I'm using legacy code developed 8 years ago with customized css and js and bullets etc. that did not convert properly. The work to fix all the issues is not worth going to the new version. I have asked our software team to upgrade me to RH 2017 instead. I found the new user interface difficult to use. I miss my top toolbar and all the options it offered. I would not recommend RH 2019/2020 unless you are starting a new project from scratch.
Thanks for this review, it saved my day!!
Sorry but I have to disagree. Much has changed since the review was written and I know the author's project is complex.
Whilst some users have had issues they have mostly been ones that either Support or these forums have been able to resolve.
Yes the new UI seems difficult to use at first as there is quite a learning curve. On the positive side I think most of those who have persevered have soon found it easier to find things. I know I now hate having to go back to Classic versions when trying to help people here. It is then that you realise the layout is actually easier to use, even though that doesn't appear to be the case at first.
The new versions use strict HTML5 and CSS3 so that anything you want to do that is not part of RoboHelp can be done if you have a good knowledge of both.
If you don't have RoboHelp 2017 already I think you will find you will have to install 2019 which you can do as part of your subscription. That came in both Classic and new UI versions. 2020 is the first to not include Classic as it is no longer going to be updated.
If you want to post your specific issues in new threads I am sure the supporters here will do their best to help. Have you looked at the supplied About RoboHelp sample project as that explains most of the features in 2020. You should see the samples on the Starter Screen but if not then click Open Project on the Starter Screen to open File Explorer. Browse to Documents and then My RoboHelp Projects.
See www.grainge.org for free Authoring and RoboHelp Information
Hi Peter, I'm not very technical so being able to work the HTML5 and CSS3 is not a given. With six Help systems to maintain I'm going to try and stay with Classic for now. Thanks for letting me know about 2017. If it's not available I will try the 2019 Classic and go from there. I think the main issue is I'm feeling overwhelmed with being one resource with mutliple Help systems to upgrade manually and not having the time to do so. Baby steps are what I need for now. 🙂 If things change I would welcome your assistance on the 2020 challenges. Thanks again for all your advice it is well appreciated. Lori
Here's what I suggest you do.
See www.grainge.org for free Authoring and RoboHelp Information
Peter this is a wonderful suggestion and what I need right now...baby steps. 🙂 Thank you!
Peter's suggestion as a possible way forward seems to be a good approach. Let us all know how you get on with your conversion. We're still on RH 2017 here, unable to find the time to convert any of our projects to a new RH version at the moment.
Another problem for us is that RH 2017 has an insanely slow search for large merged help HTML5 projects that are online. I was told RH 2020 uses new algorithms that fix that. So on one hand, I want to upgrade to get that fix, but on the other hand I don't want go through the hassle of doing a bunch of manual fixes.
I am interested in whether 2020 fixed some of the issues I posted in my original review of 2019, so I may end up doing a 2020 review at some point.
Happy New Year everyone!
Like Peter suggested, I'm hoping that by 'playing' with a copy of one of my Help systems in RH 2020 I can figure out how to address the things that did not convert well. It might still mean lots of manual fixes. I'm currently researching the bulleted lists that did not come over correctly. Like you, I do not have a lot of time to make hundreds of fixes throughout my Help systems. Thank you for your thorough and honest review. For now I'm staying with RH 2015 as my production environment. I will report back. 🙂
Happy New Year! Lori
Hi, I wanted to report back on how my RH 2015 to RH 2020 is going. I did as Peter suggested and used a copy of one of my Help systems as my test project. It did help me to start learning the interface and made me feel more comfortable with it. Most of my reluctance though was based on having to fix all the things that did not convert properly - mainly bulleted lists. Once I figured out how to correct them, I ended up using my test project as my real conversion. I had to adjust each and every bulleted list manually. I've been working on it for over two months, in between my regular work. I still am not real quick with the interface, and often have to look in the user guide or search online on how to do something. But I'm feeling much better about it now than I did in December. I still have some questions about things..for example I don't understand how RH converted my skin. I will be posting a question about that on the Forum to see if anyone can help with that. So...I'm almost done with converting one Help project. Five more to go! Luckily my projects are pretty straight-forward - non-merged projects consisting mainly of text, lists, tables, and images. I hope to be done by end of year!