8 Replies Latest reply on Feb 10, 2009 5:36 PM by Captiv8r

    Unwanted HTML formatting

      I normally use a text editor and MS HTML Help Workshop to create my HTML Help files. However, on this specific project, it was requested that the CHM file have a browse sequence in it that is not supported by the MS HHW. I downloaded the trial version of RoboHelp 7 and opened a copy of the help project and noticed that RoboHelp added a bunch of unwanted and repetitive tags in the HTML files. All of our projects use CSS for formatting and now I have all these unwanted tags basically doing the same thing as the style sheet is doing. I looked at the help file but could not find any topic on how to turn this off. Is there something I am missing or does this happen regardless? The decision on buying RoboHelp lies in the answer to this question as we don't want all the meta tags, and styles added to the tags that are already defined in the style sheet.


        • 1. Re: Unwanted HTML formatting
          Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)
          Welcome to the forum.

          When you imported the first topic into RH, did it bring in the CSS file as well? I am wondering if your CSS was not imported and somehow the styles got written inline. Not what I would expect, just a theory.

          Normally on importing an HTML topic, RH will import the CSS as well and only apply inline styling where that was in the source file.

          You can send me one of your files and the CSS and I will look at what happens. It would help if the HTML file references the CSS from the same folder.

          Contact me via my site.

          • 2. Re: Unwanted HTML formatting
            mj3510 Level 1
            Thanks for the quick response. To answer your question; the CSS file is in the same folder with the project file and it is included in the HHP file during the import. What I did was to open RoboHelp and select the HHP project file. After the files were loaded, I went to view the HTML code for one of the pages and that is when I noticed all the meta tags that were not there before and all of the extra embedded styles along with the CSS class assignments. My boss doesn't want all that extra stuff in there because it makes it more complicated to fix things for our junior writers and those not too familiar with HTML.

            As for sending the project, I don't know if that is possible. The file belongs to one of our clients that we are also doing software development for and contains information that is confidential to the client. They are the ones requesting the browse sequence because it was in the previous WinHelp file that we did for an earlier version of the software and they really liked that feature.

            I was sort of hoping that there was an option somewhere in the preferences that could be set to keep RH from embedding all that stuff and leaving the pages as-is.

            • 3. Re: Unwanted HTML formatting
              MergeThis Level 4
              I've been managing a 7-writer, 42-project merged WebHelp help system for five years, and meta tags have never created a problem for me

              As to the concern that they make it "more complicated to fix things for our junior writers and those not too familiar with HTML," why would either of those groups be messing around in the HTML code, anyway? None of my other authors are allowed to mess with the code or with the style sheet.

              Mike, this should be a non-issue: RH does a lot of work under the covers to 1) present a view very close to what your output will look like, and 2) provide multiple outputs based on a single set of source files, including all the navigation stuff. If it needs to add some proprietary code, which doesn't show for the end user, so what?

              Don't forget, you're producing a help system, not a cute little web site, here. Sure, I created a couple of web sites myself using Frontpage, but that was carrots; this is oranges.

              Good luck,
              • 4. Re: Unwanted HTML formatting
                mj3510 Level 1
                Thanks guys for all the input. Understand that I am not the decision maker here and just relaying what the boss wants and he is a stickler for neatness and consistency. I am a software engineer and do all of the initial help files using UltraEdit and they get compiled with MS HHW. However, as I mentioned, it does not support browsing, which this particular client is wanting. Because everything is done from scratch and there isn't any unnecessary tags and in-line styles, my boss wants to keep it this way with this project. The help file for this client is complete and is exactly what the client wants, except for the ability to browse. And thus the reason for us looking at RoboHelp.

                The owner's problem is this; let's say we have a specific paragraph that has special formatting and our tag looks like this: <p class=special_format>. RoboHelp will take that tag and do this: <p class=special_format style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 12pt; and so on">. Now we have duplicated the style in the style sheet, which means we either have to remove the in-line style each time "special_format" appears or when we make a change to "special_format" in the style sheet we also have to do it in each tag that contains "special_format" which defeats the purpose of the style sheet. And, if RH does this with more than one tag (which it's doing it to almost all of them), you can see where this would get confusing to the the junior writers.

                By the way, since I create the .htm files in a text editor, everyone else uses HomeSite because it has a WYSIWYG interface that they use and they are the ones that actually maintain the help file. Most of the work that they do is in Word and the finished product is normally a PDF file so when they have to work on a help file, it has to be really simple. Since most of my time is spent on the software development end, I don't have the time to go back and do this once I write the initial help file.
                • 5. Re: Unwanted HTML formatting
                  Pete Lees Level 2
                  Hi, Mike,

                  Not that I want to discourage you from using RoboHelp, but would there be any mileage in simply adding Next and Previous buttons to the toolbar of your HHW-generated help file? See this article for instructions on how to make the buttons available for selection in HHW:


                  These buttons don't function in exactly the same way that the browse sequences in a WinHelp file might do; they just display the next or previous topic by TOC entry, and there is no option to create multiple, self-contained browse sequences. But as a means to skim topics by the order in which they appear in the help file, they might fill the bill.

                  • 6. Re: Unwanted HTML formatting
                    Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                    You have gone to RoboHelp because you want browse sequences but you don't like the code. Why don't you take a look at RH8 as big changes have been made and the code is XHMTL compliant. Install the trial on a separate PC and try it with a copy of your project.

                    • 7. Re: Unwanted HTML formatting
                      mj3510 Level 1

                      I already went down that road with the client and he didn't like it. He really wants the same functionality as in a WinHHelp help file.

                      So here is where the last meeting with the boss ended. We purchase RH to compile the help file from a copy of the project. There is a software program out there that we have looked at called CHM Editor that will allow editing of the help file and will save it in its original state, including browse sequences. Unless a page(s) is added or deleted, the editing can be done directly to the CHM file which contains a WYSIWYG editor for the junior writers. CHM Editor is very inexpensive and we think it will solve this problem and some others down the road.

                      Thanks for everyones help. This will most likely not be my last time on this forum if we purchase RH.

                      • 8. Re: Unwanted HTML formatting
                        Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                        Hi Mike

                        I realize you seem to have found your answer and that's great.

                        But would you be willing to please clarify something in this thread?

                        You said that RoboHelp added a bunch of unwanted tags to your files. My question is to ask if where this happened, you noticed that it happened by merely opening the project in RoboHelp? Or was it only after you opened these files in the RoboHelp HTML editor?

                        My reason for questioning this is that I sense you may feel that if RoboHelp HTML is being used, you may feel you are "stuck" with using its built in WYSIWYG editor. I know its own editor will amend things to suit it, but it's much better and cleaner than it used to be. But it's also incredibly flexible and doesn't force you to edit with its editor. Instead, you may declare any editor you like. Notepad or another text editor so the RoboHelp HTML WYSIWYG editor doesn't touch the files.

                        Cheers... Rick