6 Replies Latest reply on May 16, 2007 4:59 AM by Peter Grainge

    Adding Global Search function in Webhelp

    gc31 Level 1
      I have been asked to add global search functionality to my website. As far as i understand, the only way of doing this using Webhelp is to use merged projects?
      As i have 40 separate XPJ files (some very large), this merged projects method didn't work very well. For a start you got lost in the vast number of projects and bookmarks displayed in the merged TOC. Instead, from a main menu, each guide opens up in the same fixed window and just displays its owns TOC. Curently you can only search in the selected guide.

      Having looked at Peter Graingers site, ZoomSearch would seem to work OK. Does anyone know of any other method i could use or free alternatives to ZooomSearch?

        • 1. Re: Adding Global Search function in Webhelp
          Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional
          Let's look at RoboHelp first.

          The TOC the user sees can be set up in two basic ways.

          1] A book for each child that then expands to show the child's TOC.

          2] The books for the child showing directly in the main TOC. Thus

          Parent Book 1
          Parent Book 2
          Child 1 Book 1
          Child 1 Book 2
          Child 2 Book 1
          Child 2 Book 2

          You can search across the entire merge, indeed that is the whole idea. The projects are presented as one and work as one. It sounds like you are pointing to the start page of each project so that they open separately.

          On alternatives to ZoomSearch, Google will find plenty for you. Wait until you try to set them up though. You will likely waste a lot of time getting the free ones to work and most require a developer's assistance. The beauty of ZoomSearch is its ease of use that ultimately makes the free ones expensive in terms of your costs.

          • 2. Re: Adding Global Search function in Webhelp
            gc31 Level 1
            Thanks your your reply. I expected the free ones would be more trouble.
            Yes - i am linking to the start page for each project.

            Will i need to change my structure (to merged projects) or will ZoomSearch just index the files i specify in the published folder?

            • 3. Re: Adding Global Search function in Webhelp
              Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional
              If you get your projects set up correctly as shown in my article and the downloadable demo, you will have a search across all the projects so do you need ZoomSearch?

              If you decide you do because of the way it works, then from any given folder, it can include / exclude any files or folders you want. So you can have one search across the whole output or any number of searches across any configuration of the projects that you choose.

              • 4. Re: Adding Global Search function in Webhelp
                gc31 Level 1

                I originally started with merged projects - the only issue for my site is that the large volume of books, bookmarks and topics got very confusing in the TOC - especially as there is no way of closing all the books. The testing team were not too happy with this.

                In case i have missd something, do you know of any sites with a large volume of information that use the merged projects method that I can have a look at?

                In order for the global search to work i assume each page must appear in the merged TOC?

                Thanks again.
                • 5. Re: Adding Global Search function in Webhelp
                  MergeThis Level 4
                  First, if you Google "refresh page" you'll have several JavaScript options available to choose from.

                  Second, I can't show you my merged WebHelp, because it's proprietary online Help provided with our product, but I used Peter's method for a merged project of 42 projects, ~2.5K topics, and mucho graphics. Unfortunately, in a WebHelp merged project, RH provides an anemic, basic search only.

                  We had elected to place our projects within 14 major categories in the TOC, so as to reduce the size of the TOC when the help was opened. Each category links to a "navigation" page in the parent project that provides a description of the category and all first-level topics within each project in the category. This category structure helps the user identify the major functional areas, and helps the seven writers keep track of where their particular projects appear.

                  GETTING STARTED
                  + Release Notes
                  + Installation
                  + etc.
                  + Program Trading
                  + Fixed Income Trading
                  + etc.

                  This proved serendipitous when we decided to use Zoom, since we were able to classify the same RH project folders under identical Zoom categories, allowing users to select a single category from a dropdown menu if they want more tightly focused results.

                  Because our help is provided on a CD and is distributed on a customer's server, we've had to implement Zoom search in Javascript mode. Admittedly, the JavaScript mode in Zoom doesn't provide full functionality either, but it's still better than RH (you can use wild cards, special characters (underscore, colon, slash, etc.) to "join" words, etc.).

                  Some Zoom issues:

                  Since RH ignores special Zoom tags in source files, such as ZOOMSTOP/ZOOMRESTART, ZOOMKEYWORDS, etc., and over-writes them in the output when generating/publishing topic modifications, we are running the Zoom indexer against the source files and placing the five Zoom files (search.html, zoom_pageinfo.js, etc.) in the output folder. The Zoom 5.0.1005 build will automatically rename the path from the source "/projects" to the output "/mergedProjects" if you select that option.

                  Currently, a bug in Zoom replaces any closing HTML tag (HREF, SPAN, etc.) that appears before a period, comma, semicolon, or colon with a space. So, you need to run a Find/Replace to eliminate those extra leading spaces (in the zoom_pageinfo.js file). I use FAR for this; you can create a .FarRun file with entries like this to do them in batch. Note that the 90_zoompageinfo_docsql01.FAR FarList was created to contain only the zoom_pageinfo.js file, and the "OpenFarList" line only needs to appear once in the .FarRun file. After I run the Zoom indexer against the project, I only have to double click the .FarRun file to run the batch replace.

                  Good luck,
                  • 6. Re: Adding Global Search function in Webhelp
                    Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional
                    The largest merge I have is some 12,000 topics and search speeds are OK on that. However, I have seen posts about projects accessed via the internet rather than an intranet where search speeds were found to be unacceptable. This is because the merge occurs at run time. That should not be an issue with ZoomSearch. The difference is that with merged help you can deliver any or all of the child outputs and the search finds just those projects available when the help is accessed. ZoomSearch and any other such tool will have links to all the topics even if in some configurations you don't deliver all the child projects.

                    One point to pick up on. The RoboHelp search works across all topics in the project(s), not just those in the TOC. Indeed, the search would work if you had nothing in the TOC.