Adobe Technical Communication Suite 3 review
Adobe is best known for its design-intensive programs such as InDesign and Dreamweaver, but these aren’t well suited to the production of technical documentation. Here, the need to constantly update both printed manuals and online help systems demands a more flexible approach, which in turn demands dedicated software. This is precisely what Adobe provides with its latest Technical Communications Suite 3 (TCS3), which includes Captivate 5, Photoshop CS5 and Acrobat X Pro, as well as two new releases: FrameMaker 10 and RoboHelp 9.
When the first TCS was released after Adobe’s takeover of Macromedia, it was little more than a bundle of disparate applications. Adobe is slowly bringing the different applications more into line, and with this release it is Captivate 5 that has been given the interface makeover, based on Adobe’s familiar working environment. Captivate 5 also introduces object-based handling and new animation effects, so Flash-based screen recordings and interactive content look more consistent and eye-catching.
Adding engaging screen recordings and interactive demos is clearly useful for those producing software documentation and training, but adding simple screenshots is even more important. Adobe includes the dedicated RoboScreenCapture utility for this and now makes it available from within FrameMaker as well as RoboHelp. The program hasn’t been updated in years, but it’s still likely to see a lot of action in the hands of TCS’s target users. The same cannot be said for Photoshop CS5. While there’s no doubting Photoshop’s creative power, its advanced power is all-but irrelevant in this context.
Far more useful is the inclusion of Acrobat X Pro. The PDF format on which Acrobat is built enables advanced review and collaboration, now extended to RoboHelp 9, and acts as the digital master for producing commercial CMYK print from FrameMaker. PDF is also a key medium in its own right, enabling the electronic delivery of long documents and manuals without the associated print costs.
Moreover, with Adobe’s Flash Player now built into the free Adobe Reader, truly interactive PDFs incorporating Captivate’s screen recordings and video can really bring your documentation alive. You can even import live U3D-based 3D models, although Adobe has quietly dropped the advanced 3D capabilities TCS2 offered via Acrobat 9 Pro Extended. The previously bundled copy of Adobe Presenter has gone too.
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