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Context-sensitive help is probably not the right solution for what you're talking about anyway. CSH allows you to call a certain topic from a certain screen or field rather than always opening the help to the same page. Your description sounds like you always want the title page to open no matter when the user clicks "Help."
One way to do what you're talking about with conditional tags in RH is to create a tag for each version of the title page you'll have. Then put all the product names in your title page, and apply the tags to the graphics or text. (A tag called "slicerdicer" would be applied to the graphic or text for the "Slicer-Dicer" product name, for example.)
Then you create one single-source layout for each tag (simplest is for the layout to include the tag, not exclude all the others).
Note that each output you generate based on conditional tags needs to go to a different directory. This means that if you have five products, five conditional build tags, and five single-source layouts, you'll have five directories of help output.
Then you ship each version of the help with the corresponding product.
Are your products software that is installed on users' machines, or is it a Web application or something else?
Hope this helps,
Wouldn't variables be a better solution here (for the product name)?
You would have a variable such as ProductName. You would then create a number of builds where a different value is assigned to the variable, such as ProductA, ProductB etc.
For graphics, you would need to use conditional tags as described.
Our software is installed on our users' machines/servers.
I should have proofread my own question to clarify the below!
The potential issue is that, when discussing this project, to me there seemed to be two options for satisfying the request:
1) make the help conditional and compile for the necessary version as needed.
2) Somehow make a pseudo-context sensitive help file that would use the link to the program to know which program is calling it and display the relevant title page. At this point, the only real difference between the two versions we'll have is the title page, so the rest of the help doesn't need to be context-sensitive, as it were.
In discussion, however, neither option seemed popular with the dev person - essentially, it seemed to me that he wants a single help file that knows which program is calling it without needing to link to it. I.e., it doesn't sound like he wants us producing multiple versions of the help file, yet he also didn't seem keen on us linking to the programs.
My guess is that this scenario is not possible, so I'm trying to figure out what the best alternate is going to be.
Each build can have the same start page so your developer will not have a problem with different names.
What happens is that customers who want ProductA will have the ProductA build of the help installed, ProductB customers will have ProductB help and so on.
Both systems will have the same calls for your developer. It's just the content of the topics that is different.
I think your developer has to be involved on some level. Either each product installs a different version of the Help file at installation, or each product calls a different version of the Help file (with different names).
I'll give you a concrete example. One of my company's products is an online application. Users come in two types. If a type A user logs in to the system and clicks the "Help" link, he loads the page for type A users; if a type B user does the same thing, he gets the type B page. Behind the scenes, the target of the Help link changes based on the user's type, just as the available modules change. I don't do anything different as a technical writer; I simply produce both types of outputs and publish them to the server. I give the calls to the developers, and they modify the target of the link based on the user's credentials.
I think you'll find yourself in a similar situation.
If for any one installation, different users will require different help, then Chet is correct to say the developers will need to find a way of pointing those users to different help. If however there will only be one version of the help needed on any one installation, then what is needed depends. If you have people who install the application, then as long as they install the right version, that is all that is needed. If you use InstallShield or similar, then again your developers will need to make sure that applies the required version.