6 Replies Latest reply on May 8, 2006 1:15 PM by Captiv8r

    Do I need an IIS component?

    Kevin Elmore Level 1
      For as long as I've been working with my current employer (just over a year) and for quite some time before that, we have published help files onto a dedicated server using an IIS component. Specifically, we use RoboEngine to publish a help file in WebHelp Pro.

      We're taking a look at how we do things, and the question came up, "Why don't we simply generate the output onto a secure shared drive without the IIS component?" Why indeed?

      So, I'm posing this to the experts out there. What is the advantage to publishing to a Robo server? I know that you can gather a usage summary, but we don't use that anyway. I believe that RoboEngine gives us the natural-language search. Personally, I'm not a fan of natural-language search, but enough people may be that could impact this decision. Is there anything else it does that I'm missing?

      Is there a performance issue if we have the users access the generated files directly? Our help files are a bit intense and are accessed several times per hour. If I have an update during working hours, will generating a new output cause a problem?

      What do you do with your most intense HTML help files?

      Kevin Elmore
        • 1. Re: Do I need an IIS component?
          MergeThis Level 4
          I doubt that performance will vary whether your output is WebHelp or WebHelp Pro. And yes, the only gains are the natural-language search and the usage summary. Since our very large merged WebHelp output is distributed to customers on a CD, we never considered the Pro version.


          Good luck,
          Leon
          • 2. Re: Do I need an IIS component?
            RoboWizard Level 4
            Hi all

            One benefit I'm not seeing listed that may well prove imporant here is the ability to automatically index information inside Word documents, PDF files and other assorted documents. AFAIK, the only real way to accomplish this in the WebHelp world is to import the documents into RoboHelp and make HTML topics out of them. The RoboEngine way keeps them intact as the native document format.

            Just a thought... Rick
            • 3. Re: Do I need an IIS component?
              Kevin Elmore Level 1
              Thanks, Leon and Rick.

              As reading Rick's reply has generated a blank stare, I'm guessing that indexing information in Word files and PDFs is not going to be a concern for us. I don't fully understand the concept. I'm guessing that means importing external documents.

              If that's the case, we don't do that anyway. We place external documents on the server and create a link to them. We just update the document directly.

              If that's not what Rick meant, then I think it's safe to assume that we aren't missing that feature anyway.

              Kevin
              Feeling a bit like a thickie today.
              • 4. Re: Do I need an IIS component?
                Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                Hi Kevin

                Please don't interpret what I'm about to say as chiding you or poking fun wrongly. But why would you be using RoboEngine if you aren't interested in the associated features it provides? Seems odd one would spend the extra $1,000 or so for it and not use it. Mind you, I'm not overly familiar with it or all that fond of it. It simply makes me wonder.

                As for the indexing bit, let me try and explain it further to see if it will make sense. Let's say you have a Word or PDF document containing the word "Boffo". In the pure WebHelp or compiled .CHM world, you could add the Word document as a baggage file, then create links to it. But if you did this, you wouldn't be able to search using the term "Boffo" and find the Word document or PDF file. The only way it would happen is if you elected to import the Word document or PDF file and make HTML topics out of the content.

                With RoboEngine, the mere presence of the Word document or PDF file in the mix of files makes them a candidate for a search. So if your user typed "Boffo" into the search field, they would find the Word document or PDF file as a possible result. Then what I meant about the native format is that if they viewed the search result, Word or a PDF reader would open and display the content.

                Hopefully this helps... Rick
                • 5. Re: Do I need an IIS component?
                  Kevin Elmore Level 1
                  quote:

                  Originally posted by: Captiv8r
                  Please don't interpret what I'm about to say as chiding you or poking fun wrongly. But why would you be using RoboEngine if you aren't interested in the associated features it provides? Seems odd one would spend the extra $1,000 or so for it and not use it.


                  No, that's a pretty fair question. I'm not even sure that we would stop using it.

                  A little bit of background: I work with about a dozen help files with another co-worker. We both update these files as requests come in. We store the files on the network drive and "check them out" by copying them to our hard drives. For the most part, we are able to work with each other on these files.

                  Sometimes, we run into some snags and are uncertain if it is the IIS component that's causing it. Or maybe if things would run more smoothly without the RoboEngine. Specifically, the engine crashes sometimes, and we have to go through a troublesome process to get it running again. Since people rely on our help files to perform their jobs quickly (call center), it is a definitely problem when we have a crash. Granted, it doesn't happen often, but when it does, it makes quite an impact.

                  It was then brought to my attention that while we suffer with a crashed server or a broken Search function on robo1, we do not run into this problem with one of our help files. This help file is published to a shared drive with no IIS component. So, we are wondering if we should continue using RoboEngine. We don't actually use that much of the features (I'm sure they looked good on paper, but we don't really make much use of them), so we're evaluating if it's worth the pain. Of course, I also recognize that I'm examining one small help file versus multiple, larger help files. Perhaps we would suffer potential crashes regardless of where we store our output files.

                  So far, the biggest advantages would be:
                  Natural language search
                  Usage summary
                  Incorporating baggage files into the search function

                  The only one we might use would be the natural language search. Personally, I'd rather just do a text search anyway.

                  Kevin
                  • 6. Re: Do I need an IIS component?
                    Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                    Hi again Kevin

                    I do understand the need for reliability, as I too once maintained a large body of information for a call center. So I feel your pain.

                    It seems I've heard somewhere that you need to configure the server the RoboEngine is on for a scheduled reboot. Maybe daily at midnight or some schedule. I think I've read somewhere that perhaps there is a small memory leak that causes the service to eventually crash, and scheduled restarts seem to fix it. Again, I'm not 100% sure on this, but it may be worth a try.

                    Also, you could maintain the output in a couple of locations, using RoboEngine server as your primary and the standard web server as a backup. Just pondering out loud here.

                    Cheers... Rick