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One way would be to obtain Technical Communications suite and master the manuals in framemaker then, import by reference into RoboHelp. This is likely to give you a much more stable platform.
I would love to get the new Technical Communication Suite but that option is out of the question due to the economy and buget issues.
I have to use what I have which is RoboHelp 7
Thanks for the suggestion
Author care, I would tend to disagree with this. Sure its an option. But one fraught with coming to terms with Frame.
Julie, I might suggest that you investigate the workflow a bit deeper. For starters, what RoboFlavor are you using? RoboHelp for Word or RoboHelp HTML?
I suppose either way, you need to more deeply examine how the conversion occurs. There aren't all that many folks that use RoboHelp for Word any more. Most are using RoboHelp HTML. In RoboHelp HTML, there is a template used to map Word Styles to RoboHelp styles. If you were to get your styling mapped accurately, there shouldn't be all that much work to making changes to the underlying Word documents. Of course, if the source Word documents change, you currently have to delete the HTML topics and re-import. Either that or totally abandon bringing the content in from Word and just edit the resulting HTML pages that were created.
As for merging, I think we need more information as well as knowing which RoboFlavor you are using. I know you said you *have* RoboHelp for Word, but you didn't actually state you were using it. So I'm left wondering as I'm sure others are.
Flavor - RoboHelp HTML 7.02.001
How do I get to the template to map the Word Styles to the RoboHelp styles?
There are currently 9 manuals that have to be completely redone.
The end result is to have all the manuals searchable from one location.
Would it be better to create a project for each manual?
If so, how do you get them to merge correctly?
Is it better to create a new WebHelp or HTML Help project?
As for merging, that will totally depend on the output type. And I see you are asking about output type.
The larger question here is where will your user be accessing the help from? The local PC or a Web Server? The answer to that will largely determine your output type. If the answer is Web Server, you want WebHelp. If the answer is Local PC, you probably want a .CHM file.
OK - since the output will be posted to our Intranet, then I should use WebHelp.
How do I get to the template to map the Word Styles to the RoboHelp styles that you are referring to?
Oops. My bad. I was thinking you got that dialog when you imported. It's actually during the process of creating Printed Output (word document). So my apologies. Guess I need more caffeine.
When you right-click the HTML file list in RoboHelp and choose Import, you see the first of a few different dialogs. You may be interested in the option labeled: "Auto create styles from inline formattng".
Basically it's very helpful if you are able to ensure the owner of the Word document was consistent in using styles in Word so that when it comes into RoboHelp it's cleaner. That's most often the biggest factor. Folks applied inline formatting galore in Word and when it got to RoboHelp it was awful.
In RoboHelp, you will likely need to put some effort into creating a style sheet that will closely match what Word has. To get you started, you click Format > Styles. (Creating a style sheet is a bit of a blend between science and art. Don't be surprised if it takes a while to get it right. Also be sure to test it in all browsers and even different versions of the same browser.)
Expanding on Rick's reference to "inline formatting galore in Word," it's often much easier to clean up the Word files before you import them.
1. In normal view, select Tools > Options > View tab. In the Style area width box under Outline and Normal options, enter a measurement for the width of the style area, such as 1.2".
Note: If you have a lot of inline formatting, you can select entire swaths of paragraphs and press Ctrl+Spacebar to remove the formatting.
2. Identify a style you want to apply to many other paragraphs, click that style name in the Style area box, and double click the Format Painter toolbar button. Now, to apply that style, click each style name you want to change. When you're done with that style, click the Format Painter toolbar button again to disable it.
3. Repeat step 2 as necessary.
Edit: Oh, and check out Peter Grainge's definitive tutorial on merged WebHelp!
Tail-end Charlie here.
In addition to what has been said about importing, you might want to look at the article on Importing on my site.
If you decided not to create merged webhelp, then I would import into separate projects to start with. Clean up the topics as necessary and then import the topics into one project. It adds some work but if anything goes wrong, when importing the Word document, you can trash the project.
Merged webhelp would have the advantage that if if one document gets updated so much later that it is easier to start over, then you create a new project, import and tidy, then replace the original.