Technical communications, much like many other industries, has been clamoring for a comprehensive suite of tools that meets the demands necessary to keep up with the evolving technological world. A few years ago Adobe answered that call with their Technical Communications Suite. Today, they push the envelope even further with the release of their Technical Communications Suite 2.
The original release of Adobe’s Technical Communications Suite came less than a year ago and offered the latest versions of Adobe FrameMaker, Adobe RoboHelp, Adobe Captivate and Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro Extended (as of the 1.3 update released in April of 2008).
But in a world of rich visual imagery and the high demand for quality video, even technical communicators found themselves needing still other tools. So Adobe has chosen to add some programs to the new Technical Communications Suite 2.
For starters, Adobe has decided to include Adobe Photoshop CS4 in the suite for high-quality, industry-standard image creation and manipulation. They have also included in the new version (as part of Photoshop CS4), the newest version of Adobe Bridge to create simple and easy to use workflows.
Adobe Technical Communications Suite 2: Inside the Box
The full Technical Communications Suite 2 comes with a set of 6 programs which have some additional applications included as well (such as Adobe Bridge).
Adobe FrameMaker 9
FrameMaker is Adobe’s technical authoring and DITA publishing tool. The software is used in the creation of more engaging online documentation. The new version has a number of updates including new DITA support:
- New interface styled after CS4 interfaces
- Modular books for topic-based authoring with support for nested books and new section and subsection numbering
- Support for Hierarchical structure with groups and folders plus the ability to exclude files from publishing
- Books can contain XML, FM, DITA, DITAMaps, BookMaps and nested books
- Full support for DITA 1.1 and 1.2
- WebDav enhancements with full http support
- CMYK support on Windows
Adobe RoboHelp 8
Adobe’s help system and knowledge base authoring tool is used to build, manage and publish content for help systems and standalone knowledge bases.
New features include:
- Projects are now XML-based
- Built-in editor is based on XHTML
- XHTML iFrame and Comments support
- Support for dynamic linking of Word documents
- DITA import support
- New support for master pages and templates
- Out-of-the-box Adobe AIR support with Flex-based option for web
Adobe Captivate 4
Adobe’s eLearning authoring tool is designed for creating simulations, scenario-based training and quizzes. The following new features will aid in eLearning content creation without having programming or multimedia skills:
- SWF Commenting through Adobe AIR
- Templates for projects and design
- Variables and advanced actions available now
- Text-to-Speech capabilities
- Photoshop Layer support with individual layer animation
- Enhanced usability with panning, right-click simulation, single SWF publishing, in-line editing of text captions and more
Adobe Photoshop CS4
Adobe’s answer to digital imaging has some additional features added when incorporated with the Technical Communications Suite 2:
- All the great features already included with Photoshop CS4
- Round-trip Framemaker/Photoshop workflow with layer support
- Edit-with-Photoshop support in RoboHelp
Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro Extended and Adobe Presenter 7
Acrobat 9 is included as a way to collaborate using Acrobat.com and its various functions. With round-trip PDF commenting collaboration, training and other technical communication related functions can happen with ease across the world or across the street.
With Presenter 7 the suite also offers the ability to turn PowerPoint presentations into quality Flash videos.
Each piece of software in the suite is available individually but may not contain some of the integrated workflow solutions that are specific to the versions in the suite.
With a total of 15 products available (if you include the added features like Bridge and others) Adobe is again setting the stage for the future of not only technical communications solutions but software solutions entirely. They have brought a seemingly well-thought out solution to the public that is designed to meet their demands.
The industry and ultimately the public are the real driving force behind the evolution of technology and software. By listening to the needs and wants of these professionals Adobe has created a solution aimed at increasing the use of rich media, increasing productivity and making it easier to create content and publish it.
Overall, the Adobe Technical Communications Suite 2 is increasing the experience and capabilities of enterprise level solutions.