4 Replies Latest reply on Dec 12, 2008 1:51 AM by RoboColum(n)

    auto-importing images into Help projects?

    Tech Writer KC Level 1
      Not sure if I can explain this correctly, but we're wondering if there's any way of setting up the following process using RoboHelp (we have RH7 and work with CHM files as our help):

      We would like to find a way of creating an "automated" update process for our screenshots. The idea we've been floating is to use the software testers' testing scripts - which are configured to take screenshots - to run a new script on a regular basis (probably monthly or quarterly) to capture either all screens or (ideally) all new or modified screens.

      From there, if possible, we would have a way of either automatically or manually moving the new images into a folder from where our Help projects could somehow automatically grab the new images and replace the now out-dated screenshots with the new. The idea would be that a new image would overwrite any existing image with the same filename.

      I would still manually maintain the text, but it would allow us to guarantee up-to-date and consistent screenshots (our help currently features images dating back to DOS, and even current ones use a mix of Vista, XP, and personalized themes).

      Is there any possible way of doing this with RoboHelp? Our belief is that we have the image capturing part already taken care of - what we're in the dark about is whether there's any way of getting the images into our Help projects. The goal is for an automated method, but even if we had to manually transfer the images from the source folder to a common folder from where each RoboHelp project could auto-grab its new images would work as well.

      I guess to outline our thoughts more directly:
      1. A modified testing script runs at end of month or end of quarter and grabs screenshots of each new or modified screen in our software. Image names would be based on the screen, so that they're always consistent.
      2. If necessary, images are transferred to a folder accessible by our help projects (our help file is one master CHM and several sub-CHMs).
      3. Each Help project would "view" the contents of this folder, and for any image names that matched one it contains, it'd delete its existing copy and copy in the updated image.

      We would presumably have to manually add brand new screens the first time, and we would then be able to let the process auto-update them from that point on.

      I hope this makes sense. We basically want a way of getting our numerous screenshots consistent and updated. Doing so manually at this point will be a hard slog, plus where I work work emphasizes automation as much as possible - me spending three months manually updating everything we have won't be too popular a project I think. :)
        • 1. Re: auto-importing images into Help projects?
          RoboColum(n) Level 5
          Whilst this may be possible there are a couple of considerations. Firstly the file name must be EXACTLY the same as the one in RH (including being case sensitive) to avoid broken links. Secondly the generated image must be exactly the same size as the one in RH to avoid stretched images. Thirdly all RH projects must be opened on a local drive. You could backup your proejcts to a networked drive and generate the images to it but you'd have to devise a system to ensure you always used the latest source. Just a few "off the cuff" thoughts.
          • 2. Re: auto-importing images into Help projects?
            Pet3689 Level 1
            Re: #2

            If your images might change in size, but you did not resize any images in RoboHelp:

            You can search&replace to change

            height="

            to

            dummyheight="

            and similar for width.

            Unless you have other objects in your help documentation that have height and width specified, this should work -- it did for us. But make a backup first, of course. And be careful.

            P.
            • 3. Re: auto-importing images into Help projects?
              Tech Writer KC Level 1
              Colum:

              Yes, our plan is to have the script use a consistent naming scheme so that, whether it generates 10 or 100 new images, each image name remains the same as previous images of that screen.

              I'm not sure what you mean by the networking stuff. I work from a local folder on my machine, so all our current RH stuff is local. We're assuming that any "dump folder" for storing the new images would be local as well (with the images either auto-moved or manually moved there from the test machine).

              Pet3689,

              I'm not sure I'm following your comments clearly. Are you talking about manually searching and replacing new images, or running some sort of RH script to correctly resize these images after they're inserted into the projects?

              Thanks to you both for the tips! Still not sure on the actual process to get the images into RH in an automated fashion.
              • 4. Re: auto-importing images into Help projects?
                RoboColum(n) Level 5
                My point about networks was related to the RH database not being run over a network drive. You know that so that's OK. I was just thinking that the generation of the images, because it was being done by others, would be done to a network drive and therefore a backup would have to be placed there also. However you have seen that coming also

                My other point was related to the fact that images must be of the same size. Try adding an image to a topic and then resizing it. The placeholder of the image remains the same size and the image is compressed or stretched accordingly inside the topic so that the image takes up the same area. So you'd have to ensure that the captured images were not resized before you import them into the topics to avoid them being distorted the next time they are captured.