Quick Look: RoboHelp Office Pro for .NET
Its WebHelp may become a de facto standard.
One of the products announced at VS Live was eHelp's new authoring product,
RoboHelp Office Pro for .NET. I had the chance to talk with them briefly
about it. Watch for a review in an upcoming issue of Developer Central,
but for now, I'll share what I know. This product is in part a response
to Microsoft's recent announcement (see Developer Central #19) that they
were abandoning plans to release Help 2.0 as a supported solution. eHelp
sees an opportunity here to make their own WebHelp a standard format,
and they're responding to this opportunity by making tools available for
the developer who uses Visual Studio .NET.
The new product is directly integrated with VS .NET, and makes help available
directly to your .NET solutions. There are a variety of supported scenarios,
including help delivered directly from a Web Service and new APIs that
allow you to use context-sensitive WebHelp directly from C#, VB .NET,
ASP.NET, or C++ applications. If Microsoft does come out with a replacement
for Help 2.0, eHelp promises to support that new standard as well, but
they'll continue to support their own format (or provide a bridge back
to Microsoft technology if that's best for developers).
I've been impressed with other eHelp products that I've worked with,
and I'm not all that impressed with the use of MS Help 1.0 in Visual Studio
.NET. So I'm looking forward to getting my hands dirty with this product.
A truly integrated help authoring system in VS .NET will be a big, big
step forward for anyone trying to deliver polished applications.
Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.