7 Replies Latest reply on Mar 19, 2015 9:13 AM by rlowder131

    RoboHelp 9 HTML crashing


      This may get a bit lengthy but I want to lay it all on the table in the hope of getting to the root thus helping to arrive at an answer.

      For the past several months I've been developing a help system for a food processing plant. This is a brand new plant with state of the art technology. They wanted a system that would house all the SOPs for the facility and also all the manuals for all the equipment. I arrived on the scene late in the game so things were a bit disorganized to say the least. The SOP documents are all Word docs - some 2010 and some 2007 or earlier. Some are in an old style format and some developed in a new template that I created to try and standardized things. The manuals are all PDF documents.

      I've worked with RoboHelp before but not on a project like this. My previous project was built from the ground up with style sheets, fixed layouts etc. This project is not like that. Because of the wide diversity of the Word docs I pretty much abandoned trying to standardize the style sheets and simply let each imported document create it's own style sheet. It's not that hard to manage and up to now seems to work OK. Most of the imported Word documents are built in some kind of table format.

      Then there's the PDF manuals. Some are small and some are HUGE. I've broken them up when I could. The best solution I could figure out was to import the PDF documents as a baggage file and then create a topic with a hyperlink to the PDF. From a file managment standpoint it seems to work OK. I've been concerned from the onset about the amount of space these baggage files will use.

      The help system is still in it's infancy. There are currently nearly 300 topics. The project size is currently just over 2GB in the working files on my hard drive (PDF files included) and the published version used on the network is just over 1GB. The published version seems to run fine on any machine that accesses it, but lately when I compile I get the "RoboHelp has stopped working..." crash. Sometimes it will finish compiling and the crash occurs when I click Publish and other times it crashes during the compilation.

      I'm using WebHelp HTML to generate the help system. There are some weeks when this project is updated every day and other times I can go a week with no updates. As I said I am still building this project so it will just keep getting bigger. Usually if I generate two or three times it will eventually run without errors or crashing and allow me to publish it. The crashes are becoming the norm rather than the exception. I'm fearful that it's a size issue and I'm considering trying to rebuild and this time loading the PDF files directly on the server and linking to them rather than loading them as baggage files. I know it will reduce the database size to make that change.

      There are some who feel that maybe RH is not the right program for this venture. There are others who think the result is wonderful.

      I'm using a computer with Windows 7 64bit, Intel i7 processor and 8GB RAM with a 465GB hard drive that is 3/4 empty. I don't think my computer power is the problem.

      Sorry for the long oration. There are many things about this project that defy the "norm" so I wanted to get it all on the table. I appreciate any feedback and/or suggestions.

        • 1. Re: RoboHelp 9 HTML crashing
          Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

          A number of things to address here.


          Working with Word documents that have evolved through various versions of Word in the hands of people who do not use it properly is always a nightmare scenario. On my site there are instructions on importing using various versions of Rh but probably that is too late now, unless you feel it might be easier to start again. The instructions cover how to get the import working with all the topics linked to the same CSS. Your current system of having each import linked to a different CSS will become a problem over time. Having just written that, it occurred to me that one solution might be to use file comparison tool to compare each CSS and get it down to one that covers all. Not a five minute job but one that will pay over time.


          It's important to bear in mind that the import process has improved over the last few versions and you are still on a version that is way out of date. It will do most of what you want but the problem is going to be browser compatibility. The issue that keep arising as each browser makes changes are fixed in later versions but not Rh9. See the forum Announcements for more information on that.


          No reason not to link to the PDFs in the way you are but you can import PDFs as well. It is many years since I tried that and the results were not too good but maybe that has improved as well.


          Of course the big thing with importing is that it is one off whereas linking allows the source to be updated. I wonder if you have considered that option.


          Now let's turn to the crashing. I doubt that is anything to do with size. I'm thinking it is more likely to do with some content and my first target for investigation would be the PDFs. There's an old method for proving / disproving that. It seems to be time for the old divide and conquer approach.




          Zip up the project so you have a copy that cannot accidentally be opened and worked on. That gives you a copy that you can safely revert to later if needed. Save the zip file somewhere safe.


          Then create another copy of the project so that you have two copies that can be worked on.


          Open Copy 1 and delete half the topics. Ignore any broken links reported. Generate the help from that copy.


          Open Copy 2 and delete the other half of the topics. Generate the help from that copy.


          It should be the case that one copy is now OK and one still has the problem.


          Trash the good copy and then create a second copy of the copy with the problem.


          Repeat the process until you have located the topic that is causing the problem.


          The process takes less time than you might think.




          Sorry it's a long reply but you started it!


          Come back when you have digested it all.


          See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips




          • 2. Re: RoboHelp 9 HTML crashing
            rlowder131 Level 1

            Thank you for the reply Peter.


            We have considered linking to the Word docs because of the issue with varied styles. Initially we did not think it would be possible because the original docs are stored on a TeamShare server that is not accessible from the published RH program. We now know we could store the docs on the server that runs the help system (still requires manual management) and that might alleviate the style sheet issue. That being said if I have to go to the trouble of linking to everything then I might as well re-do and standardize the styles with help from your site. I will ponder that question before I make a move...


            I have asked my management team to consider a newer version of RH. The concern that was expressed is how well our current files will transfer and work on a new version. I'll do some sleuthing and see what the consensus is on that one.


            We tried importing PDFs. These PDFs come from a wide variety of sources because they are equipment manuals from several different vendors. We've found that some will not import due to security and other lockouts - but if we load as a baggage file and hyperlink to them it works fine no matter what the doc settings are. Some vendors are not willing to provide us with un-secure documents. That being said it might be just that kind of issue that is creating the crash. I keep five older versions backed up on a separate server location. These are full backups of the working files (the whole 2+GB) so I'll start there and see if the oldest version locks up. I also date each PDF baggage file, so I can also go backward and eliminate newer files until the crash stops. If that fails then I will go with the divide and conquer. Thank you for that suggestion and the steps.


            As I mentioned in the first post this project has a way to go before it's "mostly complete". If I continue to use baggage files the total size of the project could exceed 600-700 topics and could be 20+GB. Will RH9 or newer handle something that big? Better to know now than later.


            Thanks again for your reply. I appreciate having things to consider and work at to get the project working again.

            • 3. Re: RoboHelp 9 HTML crashing
              rlowder131 Level 1



              A follow up. I ran a modified version of divide and conquer. No matter how the PDF files were parsed the crash continued. I remembered reading that a reinstall of RH sometimes cured a bunch of ills and also read that shortening the path of where the working file is kept would also help. I did both - reinstalled and placed my working files on the desktop. I haven't had a crash in two days. In fact, it's running so much better that compiling the program is taking about 1/3 the time that it used to. I will still examine some possible adjustments to the CSS files. Thanks again for the assistance.

              • 4. Re: RoboHelp 9 HTML crashing
                Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                By Desktop, do you mean literally that all the project files are on the Desktop (one unholy mess) or locally and that your files were previously on a network drive? If the latter that would explain the crashing as Rh9 was not designed to run on a network drive, that came with Rh10.


                See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips




                • 5. Re: RoboHelp 9 HTML crashing
                  rlowder131 Level 1

                  In a folder on the desktop - avoiding the unholy mess. The files have been stored locally (for use in RH) for some time and routinly backed up to the network drive for safety.

                  • 6. Re: RoboHelp 9 HTML crashing
                    Jeff_Coatsworth Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                    BTW – best practices call for a short folder structure for your RH projects to avoid issues – usually it’s suggested something like c:\projects\project_name\

                    • 7. Re: RoboHelp 9 HTML crashing
                      rlowder131 Level 1

                      Thanks for the info Jeff. I've made an appropriate change as you suggested.