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Announcing a free Flare to RoboHelp Project Converter







































For  MadCap Flare™ authors who are upgrading to Adobe® RoboHelp®

At WritersUA and STC Summits, folks have asked me if it was possible to convert a MadCap Flare™ project to an Adobe® RoboHelp® 7, 8 or 9 project. Now with this converter you can in most cases. It's an easy way to return to the familiar favorite, RoboHelp, or if you just want to migrate to an easy-to-use tool that is powerful, author-friendly and is part of the new Adobe Technical Communication Suite.

Comment from an author who has
returned to Robohelp from Flare using the converter.

"With a tight deadline looming, and with other people on the doc team using RoboHelp, I was faced with having to convert my Flare project to RoboHelp as quickly as possible. John Daigle's "Flare to RoboHelp Converter" was a blessing in disguise. I was able to convert the HTML files, TOC, and Index entries into RoboHelp in a matter of minutes. Even the conditional build tags converted (although I did have to apply them to a very complex TOC afterward). John's excellent customer service also made the conversion a pleasure! Highly recommended on all counts."

Denise Tyler
Author and Technical Writer for publications including Macmillan Publishing, Pearson Education, Sybex,
Charles River Media, Thomson Learning, eFrontier and DAZ Productions

Why there is a need: Before Adobe announced its support for RoboHelp, some authors had tried Flare because there was a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt that "RoboHelp was dead." Expectations were that Flare would be RoboHelp-like in its interface since some of the original developers were involved. But, to the surprise of many, the interface and workflow differences caused a steeper than expected learning curve.

Then, there was concern about Adobe's continued development. Now, Adobe has put that concern to rest with accelerated development and four releases since the Macromedia purchase. Plus, RoboHelp is now part of the brand new Adobe Technical Communication Suite. It is clear that RoboHelp will remain the leader and continue its long-standing innovative path. 

Who would build a converter? So, I asked Adobe if they were going to make a converter available and was told the market is really too small to justify the investment. However, they said that if I wanted to develop a converter on my own, they would be glad to assist my developers with any questions they might have. I took up the challenge. (Download is broken. Please email and I will send it to you directly.) Since this converter is incidental to my consulting work I decided that rather than charge for it, I would provide it for free on an "as is" basis.

Free to use it yourself, or hire a consultant to do the tweaking. The converter is now provided for free on an "as is" basis. There are some items that still require "tweaking" after the conversion. If an author prefers, I (or other independent Adobe Instructor/Consultants) will be available to polish up the project for a reasonable fee.

Features Converted

Depending on the combination of Flare and RoboHelp versions that are used, these features are usually converted successfully:

  • Topics
  • CSS
  • TOC and Keyword Index
  • Glossary
  • Snippets
  • User Defined Variables
  • Conditional Build Tags
  • Context Sensitive Help (CSH) Map files
  • Headers and footers are converted to Snippets similar to Flare
  • See Also and Related Topics links are NOT supported at this time
  • The Flare Toggler feature is converted but does not work in the browser.
  • NOTE: For Dropdown Hotspots and Expanded Hotspots to work, be sure to use the Tools > Update DHTML Effects in Topics command after you open your converted RoboHelp project.
  • Keep track of known issues here.

Installing the Flare2RoboHelp Project Converter application:

  1. Extract the downloaded zip file to a folder of your choice. After unzipping, double-click on Flare2RoboHelp-Converter-Setup.exe  This is an application installer.

  2. A shortcut labeled Flare2RoboHelp - Convert! icon will be placed on your desktop along with a Readme.txt.

  3. To start the converter, double-click on the Flare2RoboHelp icon and a dialog box will open to browse for your Flare .flprj project file. Once you select the .flprj, Click Open.

  4. The next dialog box will ask you to locate or create a folder to receive the new converted files that will make up the RoboHelp project.

  5. In the File Name field give your new RoboHelp Project a name. This will become your .xpj filename.

  6. Click Save

  7. Job done! There is no notification that the process is finished. The converter works quickly even on large projects.

  8. You can now open your new project in RoboHelp by double-clicking on the .xpj file in the project folder you created.

Certain versions of Flare features in combination with different versions of RoboHelp features will impact the degree of success your conversion will have. Presently, the output is optimized for Adobe® RoboHelp® 7, although it should work in most cases for Adobe RoboHelp 8 and 9 as well. Though not thoroughly, the converter has been tested with Flare as far back as 3.1 through v7.2 and RoboHelp 7, 8 and 9. Most conversions are smooth and work well. But, the only way to know how successful your conversion will be, is to use it and evaluate the results.

As the documentation cautions, you must be careful to back up any Flare and/or RoboHelp projects before using this converter. You will have to evaluate the results to see how they may impact your project.  There are many combinations of features, versions of Flare in combination with different versions of RoboHelp which will impact the degree of success your conversion will be. The version of Flare in combination with a particular version of Adobe RoboHelp  Presently, the output is optimized for Adobe® RoboHelp® 7, although it should work in most cases for Adobe RoboHelp 8 and 9 as well.

Because the converter is free and provided "as is", support is very limited. However, any questions or suggestions for future enhancements are welcome by emailing John Daigle.


Copyright 2011, Evergreen Online Learning, LLC, Evergreen, Colorado
Adobe® RoboHelp® is a trademark of Adobe Systems Incorporated. All rights reserved
MadCap Flare™ is a trademark of MadCap Software, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries.  All other trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.