22 Replies Latest reply on Jul 12, 2011 10:59 AM by namedujour

    Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9

    A Avallone

      I am new to application help authoring and a total newbie to RoboHelp.  I am writing a help project with RoboHelp HTML 9 for a brand-new software application.  Virtually no content already exists in any sort of document, so I have the opportunity/challenge of starting from scratch.  Since a handful of users will have authority to update content (but little bandwidth to learn much about RH), I was planning to write everything in Word 2010 and then link to my project.  What I'd like to know as I get started is:  Does this make sense as an approach (as opposed to, say, authoring in RH and then using print output for training and other doc requirements)?  What are the pitfalls to avoid?  What should I do/avoid in the Word doc to make the connection to RH 9 go as smoothly as possible?  Are certain layouts more congenial to linking with Word than others?

       

      I realize this is several questions--I'd be happy to get a recommendation on a helpful source of info or guidance on making these sorts of macro decisions.  I self-educated using an "Essentials of RH" workbook and have studied the User's Guide and forums to create a prototype set of help topics for my client, but I haven't been able to find a good source of general info that addresses "why do this vs. that?" or "if I had had the luxury of being in control of the content from the get-go, I'd certainly have done X, Y, and Z."  I am grateful (in advance) for any help you more-experienced community members can suggest.

       

      Regards,

       

      Amanda A

        • 1. Re: Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9
          Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

          I don't currently use linking as part of my workflow so I cannot comment on whether or not there are pitfalls. It may also be that something either you or I would consider a pitfall would not be a pitfall to the other one. You might need some feature that I would never use.

           

          Generally I think most people would say author in RoboHelp as you have more control but in your scenario what you suggest makes sense to try. I would take some typical documents and link those as a proof of concept. If you get what you want, job done.

           


          See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

           

          @petergrainge

          • 3. Re: Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9
            namedujour Level 1

            I just learned from this forum that Robohelp 9 doesn't display Word documents you upload as baggage files unless you save them as Word 2003 with a .doc extension. I could see them on the test server, but not the published server when they had.docx extensions, but the "save as 2003" trick fixed the problem. I believe this is also true with Excel, but I haven't tried it. Your files will also not display if there are any spaces in the file names - this goes for pdf files, doc files, etc.

             

            It might be easier to have the other people forward their files to you so you can import them into the project as topics, rather than link to them as baggage files. I definitely wouldn't recommend hard coding your links to files on the server. That's a complete pain.

             

            I also wouldn't author in Robohelp because you don't have things like autotext to speed up the process.

            1 person found this helpful
            • 4. Re: Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9
              Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              Hi Maureen

               

              Likely what you are seeing is a simple server MIME type issue.

               

              Likely your web admin peeps need to add the x version of the microsoft extensions to allow them to be presented from the server. We used to see a similar issue with FlashHelp where the skin refused to display until the MIME types were tweaked.

               

              Cheers... Rick

               

              Helpful and Handy Links

              RoboHelp Wish Form/Bug Reporting Form

              Begin learning RoboHelp HTML 7, 8 or 9 within the day!

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              • 5. Re: Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9
                Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                Hello again

                 

                Can you please point me to the post where you said you saw this "in this forum"?

                 

                Thanks... Rick

                 

                 

                Helpful and Handy Links

                RoboHelp Wish Form/Bug Reporting Form

                Begin learning RoboHelp HTML 7, 8 or 9 within the day!

                Adobe Certified RoboHelp HTML Training

                SorcerStone Blog

                RoboHelp eBooks

                • 6. Re: Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9
                  Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                  I also wouldn't author in Robohelp because you don't have things like autotext to speed up the process.

                  Autotext in Word might speed things up but the HTML you get will likely give you issues with browsers that take more time to fix than you have saved. There are plenty of autotext tools but using variables and snippets are worth looking at. Then if that text changes, you only change it once.

                   

                  It might be easier to have the other people forward their files to you so you can import them into the project as topics,

                  Once you import, how are you going to handle changes to the document?

                   


                  See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

                   

                  @petergrainge

                  • 7. Re: Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9
                    namedujour Level 1

                    I don't have it anymore. I did a search for Word documents not displaying and just glanced at a topic that said to

                    save as .doc. It was the first thing my eyes fell on, and I went and tested without going back to the forum because it worked.

                    • 8. Re: Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9
                      namedujour Level 1

                      I've never encountered any problems with macros and autotext or any of the rest. It would take me three times longer to type and manually format everything in Robohelp - I know. I used to do it that way.

                       

                      As for changing topics, that's up to you. I keep tight controls on the topics for legal and auditing reasons, and a "modified" topic is a separate beast from an "original" topic and has a separate tracking number. I save and import a new Word document with each modification so I have a file and tracking number to refer back to for every change. It just takes a minute, and clicking "Import" isn't any more trouble than typing the change into Robohelp.

                       

                      What I would recommend - but the poster seemed to imply that it wasn't feasible - would be to create a shell project and divvy up child projects amongst the people working on the project. Everyone would upload his or her piece to the main project without involving the project lead, and it would display seamlessly. That's how I do it, but it requires multiple Robohelp licenses.

                      • 9. Re: Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9
                        A Avallone Level 1

                        A-ha!  That's my question exactly.  I am trying to make updating the content easy for my clients when I (a training/writing consultant) am gone.  People change jobs at this client site more quickly than some change their socks, so knowledge transfer is a challenge.  To sum up, I think I am hearing that 1) authoring in RH is not sensible for my purposes (as I had already deduced), but 2) linking with or importing one big doc is problematic? so 3) what about linking to individual topics which different users can update and one super-user can re-publish? or 4) importing topic-sized docs and training a few key  people on how to re-import when the content changes?

                         

                        Sorry to be so confused and needy, but I am about to commit to a license this week (and other teams/departments may follow suit down the road), yet it sounds like some of the things (like authoring in Word and then linking and/or importing) listed as functionality in the User's Guide are actually not that easy/reliable.  The ease-of-update was a pretty strong selling point for the client, and I don't want to promise more than I can deliver. Thanks for any advice you can give re: can RH do what we need...or do we need a permanent  team of people trained in RoboHelp?  Thanks, A

                        • 10. Re: Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9
                          namedujour Level 1

                          Importing is not a problem. It takes a second to do. The problem is getting it formatted properly in Word before you import

                          it, which may take some of your time.


                          If you don't want multiple licenses, just instruct people to create the documents and send them to you. You then format them as necessary, and import them into the project. Easy-peezy. You just need to train them on proper formatting, and if you use styles you need to train them to use them too, or you'll be spending all your time on the look/feel of each topic.

                           

                          I've never tried linking - it isn't feasible for the way I do things, so someone else would need to jump in.

                           

                          If you ever need to divide the project up with someone else, it's easiest if you created it as a parent/child project from the very beginning. I do that anyway, whether or not I have plans to break the project up. It's just easier to control it that way, and faster to upload to the server one small project at a time as I update it.

                          1 person found this helpful
                          • 11. Re: Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9
                            Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                            It's always easier for the client if they can author but easier does not mean it is good. If they have people who can write a good Word document with links and so on, then linking to those documents can be a valid workflow. However with people constantly changing the documents, any maintenance left with the client sounds like a recipe for disaster.

                             

                            You refer to linking to a big document. Define "big". If the document really is a large document, then maybe separate documents need to be considered but then you have the problem of the client knowing what is in what document.

                             

                            What is it that you have heard about large documents being problematic? Often what we see here is that one person has had a problem with something and they then state that the "something" is problematic when in reality it is something about they way they are working or what they are working with. Two documents can look the same and may be of comparable size but if one has been created in an amateurish way it will likely cause problems while they other one will be troublefree. Guess what sort of quality documents your client is likely to create with transient staff.

                             

                            I think I would want to document the merits of different approaches and then discuss them with the client. Let them decide. If you explain your concerns it should be a constructive meeting with the client recognising that you are trying to stop them making a bad decision.

                             


                            See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

                             

                            @petergrainge

                            • 12. Re: Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9
                              A Avallone Level 1

                              Thanks--I think that'll work, especially if I author the content to start

                              and disallow formatting changes--only content updates.  BTW, do you have a

                              rec on where to find tips on the step of "getting it formatted properly in

                              Word" or is it just trial and error until everything looks right?  There is

                              no set style prescribed by the client, so I can choose whatever is (as you

                              say) easy-peezy.

                              • 13. Re: Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9
                                Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                Hi there

                                 

                                From what I understand the issues are with consistency. You want to ensure folks avoid in-line formatting. For example, painting across text and making it perhaps 16 points and Bold so as to indicate a Heading instead of defining the formatting in Heading 1 and applying that way. So one of the key elements is to ensure headings are consistently applied.

                                 

                                Cheers... Rick

                                 

                                Helpful and Handy Links

                                RoboHelp Wish Form/Bug Reporting Form

                                Begin learning RoboHelp HTML 7, 8 or 9 within the day!

                                Adobe Certified RoboHelp HTML Training

                                SorcerStone Blog

                                RoboHelp eBooks

                                • 14. Re: Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9
                                  Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                                  As Rick describes, the need is to avoid direct formatting and that applies to any content in Word. Encourage the use of paragraph and character styles.

                                   

                                  Create a template they must use and if the version of Word is 2003 or earlier, think about creating a toolbar with the styles. Word 2007 doesn't have toolbars and neither does 2010 but in the latter you can create your own ribbon and add the styles to that.

                                   

                                  Also make sure you get everyone to turn off smart quotes.

                                   


                                  See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

                                   

                                  @petergrainge

                                  • 15. Re: Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9
                                    MergeThis Level 4

                                    Turning off smart quotes will only eliminate them in future usage, but do nothing to the occurrences in existing docs.

                                     

                                    You should therefore also do a Find & Replace (double quotes in each box, then another pass for single quotes) to "clear the palate," so to speak.

                                     

                                     

                                    Good luck,

                                    Leon

                                    • 16. Re: Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9
                                      namedujour Level 1

                                      You can go online to Microsoft, and view their help for creating styles. You set the attributes for each style, such as font, color and size. Apply the appropriate style to EVERY line of text. When you import, Robohelp 9 does a virtually perfect job of replicating the way it looks in Word (earlier versions, not so much), so you may not need to create a Robohelp style sheet - I didn't until we changed our branding, and consequently all the colors and fonts. At that point, I just applied the new style sheet to all the topics to change the entire project. Before that I simply accepted everything the way it appeared without worrying about style sheets because it was really fine.

                                       

                                      However, you cannot make any changes to lines that are bulleted or numbered without patching them afterward. Robohelp uses some sort of image during the import process, rather than proper numbering. Any time you type on a bulleted line in Robohelp, the bullet goes wonky. Just copy/paste from another line to correct it.

                                       

                                      You can create all of your topics in one document. During the import process, a dialog lets you map one style - your "Heading" style - as the one that tells Robohelp to create a new topic beginning with every line formatted in that style. Robohelp breaks up the large document into little topics you just have to sort into their appropriate folders.

                                       

                                      In Word I create macros to apply the styles, and pop the icons onto my Ribbon/toolbar.

                                      • 17. Re: Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9
                                        Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)
                                        However, you cannot make any changes to lines that are bulleted or numbered without patching them afterward. Robohelp uses some sort of image during the import process, rather than proper numbering.

                                         

                                        That sounds like you may not be ticking the option to Convert to HTML List when you import.

                                         


                                        See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

                                         

                                        @petergrainge

                                        • 18. Re: Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9
                                          namedujour Level 1

                                          I couldn't find that tick box in any of the Import dialogs or setup dialogs. Where is it?

                                          • 19. Re: Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9
                                            A Avallone Level 1

                                            Thank you all--you guys are awesome.  Since I have very little existing doc

                                            to work with, I think I can get everything set up as you suggest!

                                            • 20. Re: Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9
                                              Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                                              Click the Edit button when you import.

                                               

                                              DocImport.jpg

                                               


                                              See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

                                               

                                              @petergrainge

                                              • 21. Re: Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9
                                                namedujour Level 1

                                                Thanks! Which of these options is Convert to HTML List? I couldn't find it here or in any of the others, Paragraph, Character or Table, on that dialog.

                                                 

                                                import.JPG

                                                • 22. Re: Using Word wisely as a linked document for RH HTML 9
                                                  namedujour Level 1

                                                  Oops! Just saw that it's grayed out. I'm going to test it. Thanks!

                                                   

                                                  Edited: I tried it, and it changed the font on the numbers (made them a serif font and a larger size), and messed with the indentation of the hanging indent. I think that, for now, I'm going to keep on copy/pasting the bullets whenever they get messed up.

                                                   

                                                  html.JPG