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Hi newbie_r and welcome to the RH community.
You don't say what version of RH you have but the latest version (RH7) has Unicode Support that allows you to produce help files in most languages. The exceptions are mainly the right to left languages (e.g. arabic, hebrew).
As far as the template is concerned, you can assign any text, image to a template and it will be applied to any topics you assign the template to.
If you haven't already, I'd download the trial version and experiment a bit. Set up a template with what you want and then create a couple of simple help files containing just a few topics each. That will reassure you of RH7s capabilities in this area.
I am using RH 7, kow how to insert localised text, but how can I make the complete help file change from 1 language to another at a click of a button (say, located on the skin)? Do I HAVE to have conditional build tags for each text section in each language, or multiple topics in each language, or is there a better way?
If I understand you correctly you are not looking to translate the whole help file but just various elements (e.g. GUI buttons). In other words you want the most of the text to be in a single language but button references to be a local language.
In this scenario I'd use build tags. My motto in all things is "Avoid duplication" so would avoid having separate topics for each language like the plague.