8 Replies Latest reply on Nov 9, 2006 2:09 AM by WriterBen

    When To Merge

      When should one separate a help project into modules and create a merged help project? I am new to RoboHelp HTML. I have a large but not enormous project and I thought it would be a good idea to break it down into smaller modules. But now I see that by doing this I will have less control over the table of contents, linking from one project to another, etc. In any case, can someone please share your expertise and tell me what the benefits are to having a merged help project rather than one larger help file? I must also keep in mind that I will be generating WebHelp from the same source files.
      I appreciate any reply --- Thanks!
        • 1. Re: When To Merge
          Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional
          Welcome to the forum.

          Three main reasons for creating modules. One is to match different modules of your software so that the help is specific to the installed modules. Two is to split a large unwieldy project into bite size chunks. Three is to enable different people to work on different parts of the help without using source control.

          Splitting an existing project in this way is a pretty hairy task for someone new to RH so if you do proceed, make sure you take plenty of backups along the way.

          There's a topic on creating merged webhelp on my site but it sounds like you also need to create CHM files from the same source. Perhaps I could ask why?

          The problem you are going to hit is that merging chm help and merging webhelp requires two different structures although I have been told that it is possible to create merged CHM help by adapting the method I describe.

          Perhaps your best way forward would be to download the demo file from my site and get your mind around merged webhelp and then experiment on making it work with CHM files.

          • 2. Re: When To Merge
            WriterBen Level 1
            The project is large but I am not sure it is unwieldy. How many HTML files constitute an "unwieldy" project?

            The client distributes CHM help with their software, but they also want to offer WebHelp on their website.

            Thanks for your help! I will download your demo to get my feet wet. :)
            • 3. Re: When To Merge
              Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional
              Difficult question as much depends on content. Generally once you get over say 4,000 topics, things will start to slow down. I guess you could say that you'll know when it is unwieldy!

              • 4. Re: When To Merge
                CraigCC Level 2
                Hi Ben/Peter,

                I agree with Peter that is hard to put an exact limit on the size of a project. If you do not need to split up the project for other reasons (e.g. you don't need to serve up different components to different users or allow different authors to work on different areas) then working with one big project can have advantages as you noted Ben.

                One big advantage is that you are not commited to an output type - the two approaches particulary for creating cross project links are quite different.

                FYI - We work with a project with over 2500 topics and the only real issue that we have come across is the time it takes for the Insert Hyperlink dialog to appear - however the project has a lot of bookmarks. I can still serve up two different output types e.g. .chm and .webhelp at the click of a button.

                Good luck
                • 5. Re: When To Merge
                  ---Dirk_Bock Level 1
                  Hi all,

                  on the other hand a large project - especially when using RoboSource Control and having more than one author - tends to corrupt its CPD file more often. And the time it takes for RoboHelp to rebuild it after deleting extends with the project's size. Rebuilding the CPD for a project with some 1,200 topics and 500 images takes some 20 minutes in my case. When you work on the project daily and perform some operations other than pure editing, expect a corrupt CPD to be grinning at you about once per week...

                  ---Dirk Bock
                  • 6. Re: When To Merge
                    RoboColum(n) Level 5
                    I concur with everyone else but would add one further point. I tend to split my projects down into logical chunks (e.g. different product modules that have a separate licence). I also have one of these split down further because it contains a lot of topics. No where near the 4500 Peter suggested - more like 1000 - but it just makes it easier to manage when dealing with topic dialogs such as related topics, hyperlinks, etc. In short, there is no clear answer to your question. Just think ahead, plan what you want to do and use our advice to decide. Hope this helps.
                    • 7. When To Merge
                      CraigCC Level 2
                      Hi Dirk,

                      Not sure what is going on with your CPD file. Just FYI, this is not my eperience working with large projects. We use Visual Source Safe rather than RoboSource control so perhaps that's the culprit. Also rebuilding the CPD file is very quick. Perhaps the RoboSource control stores version details within the CPD file...not sure though...

                      • 8. Re: When To Merge
                        WriterBen Level 1
                        This has been extremely helpful. I'm glad I asked. Thanks for the swift input and advice.