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Flash in the can

eHelp’s RoboDemo 3.0.

How are your Flash skills? If yours are as weak as mine and from time to time you’ve got to create Flash-based tutorials or demos, you’re gonna love RoboDemo 3.0 from eHelp.

Here’s the scoop: RoboHelp lets you build tutorials in Macromedia’s Flash format (pause for the punch line) without learning Flash! Built around an easy-to-use editing environment, RoboDemo lets you construct demos that can be viewed on the Web without proprietary plug-ins. While designed to run on Microsoft Windows 95 or later, any of the completed projects you produce can be viewed in Mac OS, Linux, Pocket PC, and even Web TV environments.

Using a Wizard-like interface that is more old-fashioned (think Windows 3.0 instead of XP) than cutting edge, you get to work through cleanly designed screens to produce the final product. You simply work step-by-step with the “no muss, no fuss” interface to add rollover captions or images to a tutorial. You can format captions using the usual formatting suspects including bold, italic, as well as font size. You can even use magnified images to create zoom effects. Several files types can be imported including AVI, TDP, QVP and Microsoft PowerPoint, so you should be able to convert some of your existing .ppt presentations into interactive tutorials without lots of work.

eHelp’s RoboDemo is designed to let you provide the context and knowledge while the software itself is smart enough to provide the technical aspects of creating tutorials or demos. You can, for example, let users interact by typing in text so they can learn by doing–instead of just watching. You can also add click boxes to allow users to jump to any frame within the presentation, another RoboDemo movie, URL, or e-mail address. You can track a user’s score as they use your demo and at the completion, display a tally to let them (and you) know how they did while working through the tutorial.

The final tutorials are small enough to be e-mailed, viewed on a Web site or integrated into a help system. And they can be made as interactive or non-interactive as you want. You can also export the finished program as an executable (.exe) file and save it onto a CD-ROM or DVD disc.

If you already know how to use a mouse and keyboard, you can use this program because, while it does all the hard work, you provide the content. This makes it wonderful for people in staff positions such as Human Resources, who need to create applications for the company’s Web site. RoboDemo is also multilingual ,available in 13 different language versions including simplified and traditional Chinese, Norwegian, Spanish, and Dutch.

All this power does not come cheap. As I write this, the introductory pricing of RoboDemo starts at $399 (list price is $899.) But if you need to create Flash demos or tutorials, you need RoboDemo 3.0. Don’t just take my word for it; download a free product evaluation from eHelp’s Web site.

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