Adobe Robohelp versus Madcap Flare
Comparing the two most popular single source help authoring programs
Robohelp and Flare — What’s the big deal?
When technical writers create a large project like a user manual, it takes a long time and costs a lot of money. The idea is to create such documents only once (single source). With Robohelp and Flare, the document can then be used in print, help files, online, etc.
Writers make changes and updates to the document. These changes then appear in each format. This not only makes updates easier and faster but helps writers maintain document standards.
This kind of software saves money on labor, time in writing and formatting, and frustration in keeping information consistent.
Are they worth it?
That depends. Robohelp and Flare are expensive and have a steep learning curve. So they are best for organizations that have large documents that they want to use in several formats. This tends to be user guides, help systems, procedure and policy manuals, and so on.
If you are frequently writing new documents only for print, this kind of software would not benefit you.
Which is easier to learn?
Robohelp and flare are not easy. In my opinion, Flare is harder to learn than Robohelp but it has better support, which you should use as much as possible. If you do so, you’ll learn the basics of Flare quickly.
So which is better?
I am not going to go into the exquisite details about each program. That can be found in other places. In my opinion, Adobe Robohelp is better for companies who mainly deal with print output and pdfs but also need HTML sometimes. MadCap Flare is better for businesses who plan to use mainly HTML output but also want occasional print output.
And if we’re still not sure?
If you aren’t sure which to get, try them out. Both Robohelp and Flare offer free trials for you to see how you like the programs. The Robohelp trial is for 30 days and works normally during that time. The Flare trial is also for 30 days, but any content you create has scrambled letters. On the other hand, you get free telephone help during your Flare trial (you’ll need it).
What about using other languages?
Many companies sell products internationally, so software that can handle other languages is a must. MadCap Flare has a partner program called MadCap Lingo that works well with Flare. I found Lingo easy to learn and use.
Need help with your help system?
I can advise and assist you in setting up a help system for your business, whether it be a few user manuals or an entire single source help authoring system. Contact me and let’s talk.