16 Replies Latest reply on Jan 25, 2010 3:52 AM by Peter Grainge

    Poor image quality with linked Word files

    Athena Mondello

      My help projects are set up in RH8 HTML, and I use linked MS Word 2007 source files to generate Webhelp output. After some troubleshooting on getting the images in my Word files to show up in the RH project files, I determined that a simple copy/paste (or Insert Picture without linking to file) is the best way to pull images from the source files into the help build. RH then creates its own image files/names in my help project, and it updates them appropriately when we modify them in the source files.

       

      The problem is that the images come into the RH project files at a low resolution--very pixelated and grainy, and they retain this appearance into the help build. I have read other forum posts about options in Word to remove compression when saving files, but it hasn't seemed to make a difference. RH takes the images from the Word file and creates either .jpg or .gif images that are between 2KB - 25KB, even when the image source is at least four times larger than that.

       

      I have tried inserting images by using the Word option Insert Picture > Link to File. That was actually my preferred method originally. But there's a whole separate problem with that. It does indeed produce much better image quality in the help build. But the RH project files end up displaying the first image everywhere else that an image is linked into the file.

       

      I'm mainly wondering if there is a setting in RH to avoid compressing images when it creates its project files from the Word source files. Is there a way to force RH to create higher quality images rather than these 2KB jpgs and gifs? I cannot find an option for image compression within the RH project properties or in the Webhelp properties.

       

      Or...is there a setting in Word that I'm missing? I followed the recommendation to select Save As and then navigate through the Tools drop-down to the Compress Pictures option. I unchecked the item to compress images upon saving. I even removed all the images from a file and copied new ones back in after changing that compression option. But RH still created the grainy image files in my help build.

       

      I appreciate any suggestions that the forum has on this issue.

       

      Best regards,

      Athena

        • 1. Re: Poor image quality with linked Word files
          Author care Level 2

          Hi Athena,

          Firstly with images, in my experience it's better to obtain the original gifs and then import into RH using insert picture etc.

           

          The way we do things here is to capture the image as a bitmap in paintshop pro then save as a gif. This seems to retain the quality. Personally I prefer gifs to jpegs as jpegs can go a bit speckly.

           

          Another useful hint is if you need to re-size an image without losing resolution import it into Viso, se-size then save as gif.

           

          Any help?

           

          • 2. Re: Poor image quality with linked Word files
            Athena Mondello Level 1

            I have found that any manual work I do with images in my RH project files is overwritten when I update the linked Word source files. This unfortunately keeps me from using RH's image tools like I could in an imported project. Back when I was originally troubleshooting images in my linked files, I had tried placing the higher resolution images into the RH project myself. But RH basically ignores them and only uses the project/image files that it automatically creates from the linked Word files.

            • 3. Re: Poor image quality with linked Word files
              Author care Level 2

              I should have also mentioned that we don't use linked word source files. We author in RH in HTML and if we need a word document we export to word.

              In other words RH is our source...

               

              • 4. Re: Poor image quality with linked Word files
                Athena Mondello Level 1

                During further test builds, I am now successfully building images into my RH project when using Insert Picture > Link to File to insert pictures into my Word source files. I have modified the document settings to save the linked images into the document" (Office button > Prepare > Edit Links to Files, select all linked files, and checked the "Save picture in document" box). That causes Word to maintain the link to the image files as well as keep them present in the Word file when I update the link to it in RH. RH is no longer duplicating the first image file across all other linked images in my project output files.

                 

                But...

                 

                RH is still creating the project image files at a lower resolution. For instance, it takes a jpg screenshot that is originally 73KB and compresses it down to a 24KB image in the RH project. I have tried applying all of the different Compress Pictures save options in Word, and none of them make a difference with how RH alters the images when it pulls them into the help build.This happens whether the original image file is gif or jpg. I do not have a sophisticated graphics tool nor the expertise to create higher resolution images, and really, the image quality from my original screencaptures (through SnagIt) works fine for screen viewing outside of the RH project. (i.e., I'd prefer not to have to save original images at a higher resolution just because RH keeps compressing them down when it pulls them into the help build).

                 

                I'm still wondering if there is there truly no setting to instruct RH to create project images at the same resolution of the original files. The problem is that something isn't working between Word and RH so that RH creates its own project images exactly as I have them in the linked Word files.

                 

                About the other suggested workarounds in this thread: Several other coworkers have to update the Word source files, and I'm the only one who has a RH license, so importing the Word content into RH and using RH's project/image files as my source is not an option. I'd ideally like to port all the documentation over to FrameMaker because it handles source files so much more gracefully than Word, and from reading RH8's online help, it seems that Adobe set it up to handle FM source pretty well. But until we can get more FM licenses, I must continue using Word as our content development tool, and using the linked Word source files is my best option right now.

                 

                Thanks for your continued feedback!

                 

                Best regards,

                Athena

                • 5. Re: Poor image quality with linked Word files
                  Athena Mondello Level 1

                  Well, I thought I had a solution in my last post, but it ended up not working out. I'm opening up a new post on the duplicated image problem I'm encountering when I use "Insert Picture > Link to File" in the source files. That method of inserting pictures into the linked Word source files is the only one I've found that retains the proper image quality (the only problem being that it duplicates the first image across all other image locations in each section).

                   

                  In case anyone else is interested, I've noted below why the solution I thought I had in my last post didn't work, and I've defined the only workaround I've found for this issue.

                   

                  Why the solution I had before didn't work:

                   

                  I realize that after I inserted all my images into the Word source files and then used the Edit Links to Files option to "Save picture in document" for all images, RH then reverted back to treating the images as if they are actually copied/pasted into the Word file. That's why they are still coming into the project at low resolution.

                   

                  Current workaround:

                   

                  The only workaround I've found here is similar to other suggestions I've seen in the forums: after I update my RH project files from the linked Word files, I can manually review all the image names that RH assigns, use the same filenames to rename all my source images, and then copy/paste my renamed files over the RH project image files before generating an updated help build.

                   

                  The problem with this workaround is obvious to anyone who uses linked Word source files--everytime I update a linked source file in the help project, RH replaces all project files with the updated htm project files and image files based on the updated Word source file, thus overwriting anything that I manually place in the RH project directories. Beyond that, if one of the other writers or I insert a new image into a Word source file, then upon the next source file update, RH assigns a sequential filename to the new image and then renames all other images thereafter. For instance, RH names project images by the pattern image002, image004, image006, etc., so if you insert a new image in the source file between image002 and image004, then upon the next source file update, RH renames the new image as 004, and the former 004 is incremented up to 006. ...Which would mean we'd have to go in and rename all the image files that we have to copy/paste into the project directories prior to compiling the help build.

                   

                  Personally, I have a hard time justifying the kind of time this workaround requires. It's an inefficient "band-aid" that requires a lot of work any time images are added to or deleted from a source file. I'd much rather learn that RH has some kind of setting for linked Word files that allows me to retain image resolution as it is in my source files. Adobe Acrobat gives me options to optimize pdf outputs for "Standard" publishing or "Minimum size" publishing, and when I choose "Standard," the images from my Word files do not lose any quality at all in the pdf output. Does RH really not have this same kind of option when generating project files from linked Word source files?

                  • 6. Re: Poor image quality with linked Word files
                    Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                    Can you create a simple Word document that would exhibit this problem if linked to in a new project, zip it up and attach it to a post so that I can try linking to it later?

                     

                    Please also include the original image files.

                     

                    The document only needs to include two or three images.

                     


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                    • 7. Re: Poor image quality with linked Word files
                      Athena Mondello Level 1

                      Hi Peter,

                       

                      Thank you for your offer to review a sample file. I've attached a zip file entitled ImageQuality_2399094.zip to this post. It includes a Word source file from one of my current online help builds (edited down to include only a few sections/images), the image source files, and a copy of my Webhelp output folder.

                       

                      This Word source file is the main one that I have used for all the testing described in this thread.

                       

                      Best regards,

                      Athena

                      • 8. Re: Poor image quality with linked Word files
                        Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                        What is the format of the icon images that are pasted into Word?

                         

                        I suspect they are gifs. Try converting a few of them to jpgs and then pasting those into the Word document and importing.

                         

                        See what results that gets first.

                         


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                        • 9. Re: Poor image quality with linked Word files
                          Athena Mondello Level 1

                          I converted all the images in the source file to jpgs, and this did help with the quality of the icon images. However, the screenshot images were already jpgs, and RH still seems to be compressing them. For instance, the first screenshot image in the file is around 70KB, but after RH builds it into the project, the image is reduced to around 25KB. The screenshot in the Webhelp is more grainy and pixelated, specifically around icons and screen text.

                          • 10. Re: Poor image quality with linked Word files
                            Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                            I need to do some more poking around but I don't think the problem is RH. Two reasons:

                             

                            1] Why just you?

                             

                            2] Open the document in Word and save it as a filtered web page. In Windows Explorer you will find Word saves the images in a sub-folder below where you saved the document. Look at those images and you will see the quality is already reduced. Thus far the document has not been anywhere near RoboHelp. If you save it as a web page, then you will find multiple copies of the each image. The gifs are rubbish but the pngs that get created are OK.

                             

                            I'll take another look as it appears the problem starts before the images get handed over to Word.

                             


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                            • 11. Re: Poor image quality with linked Word files
                              Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                              Athena

                               

                              Have you look at (2) at your end? Do you see what I am referring to?

                               


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                              • 12. Re: Poor image quality with linked Word files
                                Athena Mondello Level 1

                                Hi Peter,

                                 

                                I checked item #2 above, and I do see that the images are compressed and grainy when saved as a filtered web page. I also tried saving it as a regular web page, and the image retained its quality like it does when I save as a pdf file. So it still seems as if the variable is whether the images are automatically compressed when converted out of the Word file. RH & the filtered web page option seem to compress the images and make them grainy, whereas saving the Word file as a regular web page or an optimized pdf file does not.

                                 

                                I'm not sure where to go from here. I'm using SnagIt to capture my screenshots. I'm now capturing all of them as jpgs, and I'm converting my icon files from png to jpg. Is there a minimum resolution I should aim for so that they still retain their clarity when RH pulls them in from the linked Word files?

                                 

                                When you say that this issue is happening just for me, do you mean that when you build a help project with linked Word files and jpg screenshots, RH does not compress the images like it's doing with my files? I'm the only one who works with RH in my company, so unfortunately, I have no basis for comparing to anyone else's help projects. This image quality problem is happening across all my projects regardless of the method of capturing images and regardless of using different Word templates. Since I couldn't find any options in RH to retain my original image quality, I have assumed that it's a problem with how RH handles images in linked Word files.

                                 

                                I appreciate any continued input you might have.

                                 

                                Best regards,

                                Athena

                                • 13. Re: Poor image quality with linked Word files
                                  Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                                  Not fifteen minutes since I was thinking of you and this problem!

                                  I also tried saving it as a regular web page, and the image retained its quality like it does when I save as a pdf file.

                                  Use Windows Explorer and locate that web page. You will find a folder with all the images, half in poor quality and half good. I don't know why Word saves the files in duplicate but I do know it is normal. You might want to check out a Word forum, indeed that might help the whole situation. As you can see, this problem is Word related. I always use Woody's Lounge.

                                   

                                  I'm pursuing other enquiries on this but that may take some time. Feel free to enquire at any time and do post any findings at your end.

                                   


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                                  • 14. Re: Poor image quality with linked Word files
                                    jeff.g Level 1

                                    This is not a "why just for you" issue.  It is well documented that RH has extremely poor image handling when importing from Word.  I have been experiencing it and trying different work-arounds for years.

                                     

                                    In my opinion, there is no excuse for this product to choose its own image settings and blindly create poor quality images for use in what should be a high-quality product.  Support for PNG file types (which maintains image quality) is advertised yet not available when importing from Word documents.

                                     

                                    Word 2003 and 2007 will "Save as Web Page" with high quality images (PNGs) if the browser support is changed from the default IE 4 setting.  The fact that Word settings can be changed yet RH settings cannot points to a RH issue - not Word as suggested earlier.

                                    • 15. Re: Poor image quality with linked Word files
                                      Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                                      Jeff

                                       

                                      In my 18 Nov post, I reported that I was getting bad images just saving Athena's file in a different Word format without the document going anywhere near RoboHelp. My point there was that because of that whilst RH may be guilty, there is some evidence to the contrary that would give a court a problem in finding RoboHelp guilty as charged.

                                       

                                      When I said "just you" I know it is not only Athena who has had problems but most people seem to be OK. Most is not good enough but the main point there is that good images can be obtained. What is different with people who get problems and those who do not is what we need to crack.

                                       

                                      If you would like to create a one or two page Word document that shows good images but fails to import OK, I would be happy to see what I get. Do include the process in the document so that I know what you use to capture the images and how you get them into the document. For each image, please also send an image file for the original capture, ideally in JPG and GIF format.

                                       

                                      Also are you seeing any difference between linked and imported documents?

                                       


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                                      • 16. Re: Poor image quality with linked Word files
                                        Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                                        Jeff_G

                                         

                                        I just did some tests and allowing for the fact that Word shrank the images, the image came into RH with the same quality as in Word.

                                         

                                        If someone would like to give me some steps that will give me a Word document with good images that come out bad in RH, I will be happy to test and see if we can nail this. Athena is exempted from this request as I have her project and believe the problem is to do with the source graphics.

                                         


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