Lets see if I can articulate this problem accurately!
Basically, using the merged project feature in RH 8 my cross project links don't work. Intra project links work without an issue, but anything a hyperlink cross from the parent project to a child project or from a child project to a child project, the link is broken at runtime.
Here's the background story (and I've been through Peter's article about 100x trying to resolve this issue myself):
I've creating an online help system (WebHelp output) for a project with more than 1000 help topics. I've broken the help topics down into 14 child projects (and 1 parent). However, I have a constrain that does not allow me to follow the steps by Peter exactly which is that in the parent project I have to have some topics. The reason is that we build more context sensitive help systems. Specifically, this means that depending on the screen displayed to the user at the time the help button is clicked, a different help topic is displayed. So, any place there is an entry topic into the help system I have to include that topic in the parent. If I include it in a child project and the developer codes the system so that a certain help topic is displayed from a certain screen, then it only opens that child project and not the overall help system. In the parent project, I have to include around 200 topics that are considered "entry" topics (i.e., the first topic the users sees when entering the help system from one of the (about) 200 screens). This differs from Peter's article where the recommendation is to create one help topic with a redirect to a child; thus allowing the overall (merged) online help system to open, but not requiring help topics in the parent project... As a side bar, I could create 200 topics with redirects to the entry topics child project if this is going to benefit me in some way -- however, based on everything that I've read I don't think it will (Peter may be the best person to address that side bar).
Moving on... As Peter's article suggested, I created 3 folders (Parent, Projects, and Generate) inside one top level folder labeled with my client's name. I follow all other steps in Peter's article exactly -- I do not next projects in books in the TOC, I add all the hyperlinks exactly as stated, etc. Then, I generate parent project to the generate folder (just as instructed in Peter's article) and finally generate all the children projects to the appropriate folders located in the MergedProjects folder. Then I test and (walla!) it DOES work -- the table of contents is merged together and all intra and cross project hyperlinks work according to plan.
HOWEVER, (and now we come to the issue), if I move the Generate folder outside of the top level folder labeled with my client's name all the cross project links break but the intra project links remain intact. If I do not use merged projects (for example -- when I'm generating a smaller project) I simply zip the generate folder where I generated the completed project and hand it off to the developer who using hard codes something in our .NET system which allows for the correct topic to be displayed from the correct screen. Just providing the generate folder works perfectly as it should. But, if I do used the merged projects feature and move the generate folder to the developer without the other 2 folders (parent and projects) the cross project links no longer work. I don't want to provide the developer with the other folders... (1) it gets really big and is really hard to transfer to an offshore team, and (2) it contains several files, folders, and other items they simply don't need and don't want to know about.
I believe in theory what I'm doing should work, so what am I doing wrong??
When I look at the path in HTML for the link I find that intra project links and cross project links really have some different. In other words, I looks at the source code of the generated topics and I find that intra project link paths are something like: ///C:/Documents and Settings/Stephanie.Deshler/Desktop/Client Name/Generate/folder name/topic name. AND, when I look at link paths for cross project links the path is something like: ///C:/Documents and Setting/Stephanie.Deshler/Desktop/Client Name/Children/folder name/topic name.
I believe this means in the first link (intra project) the path indicates to open the Generate folder, open whatever folder there is in the system where the topic lives, and then open the topic. Whereas the intra project link path is ACTUALLY saying that to access the link the path to follow is to open the Children folder (not the generate folder) and then to open the folder where the topic lives and finally to access the topic. So, basically, it makes total sense that the link breaks when the generate folder is moved away from the children folder because it can no longer access the topics it needs to work correctly.
I tried to resolve this project by generating all the projects and then adding cross project links to the generated topics rather than the un generated topics. In other words, I generated the parent, generated all the children, and then went back into each child RH project and hyperlinked to Generate/MergeProjects/ChildProject Name/Folder Name/Topic Name (I did this between the parent and children and from child to child). But, still no luck. If I move the generate folder outside of the top level client name folder the cross project links are broken.
Is there anyone out there that can offer me some assistance? I've actually done this successfully before with RH 8 for smaller projects and I've gone around-and-around with this one and can't figure out what the heck I'm doing wrong.
Any information is GREATLY appreciated as I have a client eager to get their online help system up and running.