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Sounds like RoboHelp would certainly fit the bill for what you are seeking. Basically it works as follows:
You maintain all the content on your local PC.
You then Generate a Web Based output such as WebHelp, FlashHelp or AIR Help (Web Based).
Once the output has been created, you publish it to the Web location.
So perhaps you add a few pages and change some others.
You make those changes in your local copy of RoboHelp and Generate the Web Based output again.
You then publish the output to the Web location to populate the updates.
The first time you publish output ALL the content has to be copied across. But at that time, RoboHelp makes a list of what files were copied.
Subsequent publish operations only copy the files that need to be copied. So the first time through it may take a few minutes to copy all the content. But subsequent publish cycles should take just a brief while. Often, just a few seconds.
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Thanks so much for your helpful reply. Since I am new to this application, the steps mentioned by you made lots of things clear to me. However, I am still wondering about the following :
- Lets say I have around 900 topics in my help file. And I compiled the entire help file (File -> Generate -> Primary Layout WebHelp) and publish the generated files on the server. Then I open the project file again in RoboHelp and make some small changes in 4-5 topics (out of the 900 ones). Then when I once again generate the files, will it take the same amount of time as generating it for the first time?? Or will the RoboHelp only make changes to the relevant topics? And then, when I have to upload it again to the server, do I have to upload the entire folder (with 900 topics) all over again?
- Is there any tutorial online which shows step by step how to publish the generated webhelp content on the server?
Rick should be safely tucked up in bed right now so perhaps I can help.
First of all, 900 topics whilst not small, is also far from large so don't let the number of topics worry you.
In the wizard for creating the output there is an option Republish All. If that is not ticked, then only changed files will be published. Note that will be more than just the topics you have changed as various internal files have to be updated as well. However, it will reduce the time.
The publish page of the wizard does have a help button and that covers the basics. If you can use the File System option, that is very simple. Come back if you have specific questions.
See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips
You might be confusing the Generate/Publish process in estimating the times spent in either.
When you say: "Then when I once again generate the files, will it take the same amount of time as generating it for the first time?" you're absolutely correct: the Generate process (to your machine) always takes the same amount of time.
However, the Publish process (usually to server locations) will be quicker as it only replaces changed files (unless you Republish All, as Peter said).
Thanks so much for your speedy response! Your reply further helped in clarifying lots of things and confusions. But I guess one last thing just slipped off my mind at the last moment. So I forgot to ask it in my previous posts.
Actually, I would be copying the entire contents from the word file into RoboHelp (by creating topics). But whenever I try to do so, I notice that ALL of the formatting is lost in the due process! I have tried finding various solutions for this problem (but have been unsuccessful till now). Someone recommended me to play around with CSS style sheets etc (but I am not fully aware of this).
Can you recommend and possible solution to this problem ?
Ahhhhhh...the old Word thing!
Chances are that the Word file has not been formatted with Styles too well--rather pieces have been styled "in-line" as well as with Styles. This type of formatting rarely gets converted well.
When I converted all of our group's Word files (into RH X5 back in 2004), these files were very much like that mentioned above. I eventually determined that the most efficient way to deal with the conversion is to:
- Strip what little "styling" has been done in the Word files (Ctrl+Shift+N and Ctrl+Shift+Spacebar).
- Establish Styles that exactly match the style names that will appear in the RH project.
- Use Word's Format Painter or the Style Area Width in Normal view to quickly repeat styles for multiple paragraphs, even using the Replace function for Styles if needed.
- Import the Word doc(s) into RH, tweaking the Word files if needed, until the Import is clean.
Sorry, there's no easy way; however, Word does provide much more efficient methods for manipulating styles, so I'd go that route.