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Do any of your CHMs use special characters (e.g. underscores). If so, that could be your problem. Failing that it may be a process of elimination to find the culprit. Add the sub-projects to the master TOC one by one to find the problem. Then see if that CHM displays OK when it is not merged. Post back with your findings and we'll try and help further.
Also you don't say whether the sub-projects appear on all PCs, whether they did but don't now, whether any changes were made to the master project, etc.
Sorry I wasn't able to get back to you sooner, but I did some additional research and testing to make sure I was giving you correct information.
First, let me clarify: when I say the sub-project isn't merging properly, I mean that the TOC books and topic pages for the sub-project do not appear in the TOC of the master project.
Behavior is consistent on all PCs.
The sub-project I'm most concerned about, common.chm, does not use special characters
(unless you consider a "+" a special character). It does have a web address link in it.
Could that be the problem? Both the "+" and the web address are in text marked with a
condition and in a topic that is marked with a condition at the topic level as well. Perhaps that is too complicated?
common.chm displays properly if opened directly (not through a master project). In addition, common.chm _does_ merge properly into one master project (admin.chm). That project contains a topic that has a hypertext link to a topic in common.chm. For a while I thought that was the key. But another project (designer.chm) has a topic that has a hypertext link to a topic in common.chm and while the link from the designer topic to the common topic works, the common topics still aren't appearing in the designer TOC.
One of the topics in common.chm had conditions applied at both the topic and text level. I thought that might be too complicated so I split that topic so it could be condition tagged at the topic level only. Didn't help.
Merging these projects had been working for a number of years. They worked in verson 5 of our product, which was produced with RH5X. They broke in version 6 of our product (also produced with RH5X but by another writer who was in our group, but has left--so I do not know exactly when the change happened or why). There were content additions but no obvious structural changes to the projects.
I'm currently using RoboHelp HTML 6.
I've run out of ideas. Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated.
Umm! This sounds like the previous author may have been over ambitious with the use of conditions (by this I assume you mean conditional build tags in RH terms?). This could at the root of the problem. If you expand the Conditional build tag folder, right click on a tag and select Properties you will get a list of the topic and content level tags employed. You may have to do a bit of detective work on all the files to see what is going on. I'd start with the master projects as it appears the common file is OK when viewed on its own.
BTW the use of special character (e.g. +) in a link is perfectly acceptable. It is only when you use them in file names, etc. that you can run into problems.
It took several phone conversations with second level technical support, but I finally got a solution:
1. Using Windows Explorer, delete the container project's .XPJ and .CPD files.
2. Using Notepad, edit the container project's .HHP file and delete all references to the merged projects. (Merge information is near the bottom of the file.)
3. From Windows Explorer, open the container project's .HHP file. (RoboHelp starts and recreates the .XPJ and .CPD files.)
4. In the TOC tab, merge the sub-project(s) again.
5. Recreate Conditional Build Tags, User-defined Variables, and Single-Source Layouts.
6. Compile the project.
BTW, I tried all of these things, and still got the error message. Here's what I found:
Originally, one of my merged .chm files was the last entry in the TOC. (This worked fine in the previous version of RoboHelp.) After upgrading to version 7, I started seeing the message about invalid HTML in the hhc. After many, many, many, hours of struggling with this, I fixed the problem by moving that merged .chm up in the TOC. Seems to work fine as long as a merged .chm is not the last entry.
Request to RoboHelp: Could you please add the information about not putting underscores in merged .chm file names to the help system? It mentions spaces, but not underscores. I had to learn that the hard way, too.