14 Replies Latest reply on Jul 17, 2008 6:42 AM by Tech Writer KC

    external linking not working

    Tech Writer KC Level 1
      (RH7 and .chm files)

      The issue: one of our sub-.chms contains two links to external .htm documents (release notes). Previously (in RH5), these links worked, but we've since discovered that they've broken at some point in the past. The most obvious candidates for causes is that a) my XP machine was replaced with a Vista machine, and b) we upgraded to RH7.

      Nothing we do seems to fix the "Can't be found" error. Because the release notes are upgraded separately to show new features, they have to remain separate files, so import or baggage do not appear to be acceptable solutions.

      My real question: is there anything with Vista and/or RH7 we should be aware of that would affect external linking in a CHM file? As it no longer works in XP machines either, I'm assuming RH7 is the culprit, but I'm open to any possible cause and solution.

        • 1. Re: external linking not working
          Tech Writer KC Level 1
          Update: We normally don't link to PDFs or Word docs, but out of curiosity, I tried.

          We appear to be able to link to an external PDF just fine. The Word link seems wonky - it won't open when I click "open", but it appears to let me save it. I recall seeing a similar issue being reported when I was searching for external link issues earlier, so I'm assuming that's a known issue.

          As such, does anyone know if there's been specific changes with the html format? Has Adobe and/or Microsoft made any security changes that might be blocking our ability to link to an htm file from inside a CHM file?
          • 2. Re: external linking not working
            MergeThis Level 4
            If you have an .htm file that is not, technically, a part of the RH project, it must be added to the Baggage Folder for RH to "carry it over" to the Generate location and then "carry it over" to the Publish location. By not, technically, a part of the RH project, I mean that instead of importing the file from within the RH project, you have copied the file into the folder, such as via Windows Explorer, and have created the link in the RH topic(s). We have several .htm files linked like this, and it works (the files are exported from Excel spreadsheets).

            The link should be a simple one (<a href="<path>MyExternal.htm">Link Text</a>); anything else might not work. Of course, if you don't do this, you'll still see the external file in Preview mode, but that's not good enough.

            Good luck,
            • 3. Re: external linking not working
              MergeThis Level 4
              Oops, that's for WebHelp; the HTML Help link will look different, won't it? Anyway, the process is the same.

              Good luck,
              • 4. Re: external linking not working
                Tech Writer KC Level 1
                How does this affect updating these files without having to update and redistribute the CHM files as well?
                • 5. Re: external linking not working
                  MergeThis Level 4
                  AFAIK, linking to the file without importing in this manner means that it doesn't get embedded in the .chm file, and therefore remains an independent entity.

                  Good luck,
                  • 6. Re: external linking not working
                    Pete Lees Level 2
                    Hi, Tech Writer KC,

                    Where are the external HTML files stored (in the same local folder as the help files, on a network drive, or on a Web server), and how are the links to them coded?

                    For links to external HTML files that are stored locally, in the same folder as the help files or in an adjacent folder, you'd normally want to use a script like the one on the MSDN site:


                    I don't believe anything has changed in Vista as far as HTML Help files are concerned.

                    • 7. Re: external linking not working
                      Tech Writer KC Level 1
                      They are stored in the same /help folder as the CHMs themselves are.

                      I'm a bit confused on MergeThis's instructions. Not to sound blunt, but what is so special about the baggage folder that simply saving to it (without importing) will let them work, but storing them in their existing place won't?

                      And I still haven't heard an explanation as to why this was apparently changed from RH5 to RH7, given that this seems to be the likely explanation for why these links stopped working.

                      Thanks for the info, MergeThis. It may be preferential for us to convert them to PDFs, as they seem to link the way we've done them (and I assume will want to do them).
                      • 8. Re: external linking not working
                        MergeThis Level 4
                        I don't get your point about baggage files. RH keeps track of .htm topic files in one manner, and other file types in another manner. This is nothing new from X5, and it will achieve the proper results in spite of your reservations.

                        As to the conversion from X5 projects to RH7, the kadov tags that nearly everybody whined about have been eliminated, and the base code is now XML instead of HTML.

                        As to the conversion of older RH projects, there's no telling what type of filth had built up in the topic files, from possible inconsistent formatting and multiple macros in original Word files, to bad HTML coding in previous HTML versions, possibly done by inexperienced writers and non-writers.

                        Considering the history of RH ownership (Blue Sky to eHelp to Macromedia, who was going to let it die), Adobe has done a remarkable job with RH6 and RH7 (and beyond?). Consider the fact that X502 was at least five years old before Adobe finally rescued RH from a slow death and released RH6.

                        Good luck,
                        • 9. Re: external linking not working
                          Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                          Hi there Tech Writer KC

                          There seems to be a bit of misunderstanding here and there in this thread.

                          For starters, there is no "Baggage Files" in the sense that you would open Windows Explorer and find a folder named the same among your project files. Baggage files is a concept where the help author is able to specify that content RoboHelp may be blissfully unaware of should be included in a project. So RoboHelp provides an avenue for adding such information. It isn't as simple as just copying a file to a folder. You must use the RoboHelp HTML UI to add the file to baggage. This makes RoboHelp HTML aware of its existence.

                          I think Leon is a bit confused with the XML bit. RoboHelp did change the underlying project file structure from one that primariliy uses an Access database to store project settings to a XML based format. But all topics are still HTML. At some future point they may become XHTML, but we will have to wait and see on that point.

                          I couldn't agree more with Leon's opinion on Adobe's remarkable job with RoboHelp. And I'm pickled tink that they are continuing to see and add value to this amazing and long loved product.

                          Cheers... Rick
                          • 10. Re: external linking not working
                            Level 2
                            Hi Tech Writer KC,

                            There is a lot of talk in this thread about baggage files but baggage files will be added to your CHM. If you add 'releasenote.htm' to baggage, the help engine will always find that version. If you have a direct link to the file, the help compiler will also embed the file if it is in your project folder, even if it is not in your .hhp file. That seems like a bug to me, but some people think it is a great feature to protect us from our own sloppiness.

                            If you want this to be truly an external, up-to-date, file, you will need to follow the procedure Pete pointed you to. This underused method has been around from the initial release of Microsoft's HTML Help, because Microsoft recognized a difficulty in accessing relative, external paths. RoboHelp has never automated it, though.

                            • 11. Re: external linking not working
                              Tech Writer KC Level 1
                              Regarding the sample script, I've never done this and don't really understand what I need to do. Specifically, where do I enter the "syntax" that gives the file name?

                              They show a sample "complete" script, but it doesn't include this syntax within it. Where/what exactly do I do with the syntax?
                              • 12. Re: external linking not working
                                Tech Writer KC Level 1
                                Adobe "saving" RH does not explain why a solution that worked fine in RH5 was either changed or dropped in RH7, and why it seems to have specifically targeted one format (.htm) while leading others (e.g., PDF) working as before.

                                Pete, thinks for pointing me to scripting. However, we don't use scripting for anything else and I'm personally not experienced enough to know how to set one up.

                                • 13. Re: external linking not working
                                  RoboWizard Level 4
                                  Hey there Tech Writer KC

                                  Just in case you feel adventurous...

                                  Click here to read a tutorial

                                  Cheers... Rick
                                  • 14. Re: external linking not working
                                    Tech Writer KC Level 1
                                    Thanks Rick,

                                    Your tutorial example worked like a charm. Before I was trying to do the script in the Insert | ... | Script pop-up box. Looking at the truecode, it was inserting the script outside of the "head" part of the topic.

                                    Thanks again for the help! :)