12 Replies Latest reply on Aug 31, 2006 7:03 AM by CraigCC

    Advantages of Merged WebHelp?

      I am working on a large project that will ulitimately have the whole company's documentation for all departments into WebHelp. So far, I've got one department completed at about 900 pages. There are another 10 or so departments to go.

      Would it be better to use:

      A. One huge WebHelp file (project)
      B. Merged Webhelp with a project for each department?

      The WebHelp could grow to as many as 10,000 pages. I am thinking that merged WebHelp would be easier to handle.

      All opinions welcome!

      pro.techwriter AT gmail.com
        • 1. Re: Advantages of Merged WebHelp?
          CraigCC Level 2
          Hi Diana,

          Before going any further, I would read Peter Grainge's great article on merging webhelp http://www.grainge.org/pages/authoring/merging_webhelp/merging_method.htm

          The two main advantages of merging is that you can ship separate areas of the project if needs be and that you can allow people to work on different areas of a project independently. That is the beauty of merging. But the dissadvantage is that you need spend a bit more time managing the project as you will have cross project links and other issues to think about. Lots of info in that article on Peter's site.

          I think that 10, 000 topics (pages) is big for a single project, but would be interested how other feel about this if it is just the size of the project you are worried about. I know some people work with pretty big single projects around here.

          Kind Regards
          • 2. Re: Advantages of Merged WebHelp?
            RoboColum(n) Level 5
            Hi Diana. To add to Craig's excellent advice, I'd say that 10K topics in a single project is not the way to go. Although it may be technically feasible it makes for a lot of bother when managing the files. Think about trying to link to a topic, find a topic to edit, adding link controls, etc. in fact anywhere you need to choose a topic from a list. I know you can organise your files in folders but with 10K of them you could have a very deep folder hierarchy. Just my 2p worth
            • 3. Re: Advantages of Merged WebHelp?
              Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional
              10,000 links is fine. You gotta make your coffee some time so what better than every time you open the project. Then when it comes to generating the help you can nip out for your sandwiches.

              Yes the project will work but you won't.

              I split a project up precisely because it was around that size and everything took way too long.

              • 4. Re: Advantages of Merged WebHelp?
                HKabaker Level 2
                Here's my four-cents worth (doggone that British pound!):

                Response time for displaying a new topic from an in-topic link, or displaying a popup topic, probably wouldn't be noticeable -- whether the WebHelp is one big or several merged projects.

                Similarly, either approach allows you to build the TOC in a way that keeps lists shorter. 10,000 topics is still 10,000 topics to be divvied up in the TOC.

                But as Colum and Peter correctly point out, your productivity will improve with merged projects.

                In the hyperlink dialog, RH has to build a list of all files in the project. Then you have to find the target file.

                Opening and saving the project are slower.

                We could go on and on.

                For me, the single most important factor is the amount of time it takes to straighten out one glitch or another, or to recover a project that gets broken. This is one of those rare times that the old adage really fits: Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

                • 5. Re: Advantages of Merged WebHelp?
                  Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional
                  Two penn'orth is what you are looking for Harvey.
                  • 6. Advantages of Merged WebHelp?
                    CraigCC Level 2
                    Hi Peter et all,

                    While on the subject of size.

                    What do you think is an acceptable limit on the number of topics in a single project?

                    I always keep an eye on the CPD file, when it gets about 2MG I'm going to expect some performance issues. However, I just wondered how big your projects get before they become unmanageable? I agree that 10,000 is pusing the boundries, but 3000, 4000 topics I feel is workable.

                    Also, am I right in thinking that there is a limit on the Index file size? Not sure what this is but I've seen some queries over the years about bloated .hhk files causing problems.

                    thanks to anyone who can pass on their experiences
                    Kind Regards
                    • 7. Re: Advantages of Merged WebHelp?
                      Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional
                      I broke my projects down into logical groups of topics and that gave me two projects each with 4,000 files. That seems to be a good figure.

                      On the index I haven't hit any problems.

                      I ignore the CPD unless I have problems and it's currently sitting around 7mb in one of those projects. Still works OK and as our US friends say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

                      • 8. Re: Advantages of Merged WebHelp?
                        CraigCC Level 2
                        Is that 4000 files total, including all RH files, graphics etc? or 4000 topics. Good news about the .cpd file, I've never pushed it to that limit!

                        Thanks for this Peter, as you can probably tell, I'm in the middle of sanity checking a couple of large projects myself.

                        Kind Regards
                        • 9. Re: Advantages of Merged WebHelp?
                          RoboColum(n) Level 5
                          I still maintain HTML Help projects up to 2500 topics a piece. Opening and compiling the project is the only time I get to go and make a cup of coffee. Mind you I have another project with only around 750 topics where I can drink the coffee as well . It has thousands of links and bookmarks.

                          I'm currently starting to rewrite the above projects together with a new UI with webhelp output and have gone for a split into numerous projects defined by the licences we sell. There are other reasons why we have done this which I won't bore you with here.

                          Regarding the index query, I'd also be very interested in any feedback people have on the HHK file size. I appreciate that if the file size increases it is likely to affect performance.
                          • 10. Re: Advantages of Merged WebHelp?
                            Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional
                            4,000 topics plus what goes with that.

                            BTW I run free classes at The Fairmile!

                            • 11. Re: Advantages of Merged WebHelp?
                              HKabaker Level 2
                              Sometimes cpd file gets bloated with extraneous stuff that you might view as corruption.

                              Since it's a Microsoft Access database, you can open it from MS Access (RH project closed), which will repair it and significantly reduce the size.

                              As always, back up everything first, I can't guarantee yadyadyada...

                              • 12. Re: Advantages of Merged WebHelp?
                                CraigCC Level 2
                                Hi Harvey,

                                When projects get this big, you can't avoid the .cpd file getting this big. You can indeed delete it once but you are still going to have a chunky file.

                                Out of interest (again), does anyone out there delete there work with .hhk files over 1Meg? If so, how long does the index take to load???