It depends on the context. Basically, they are usually synonomous. Unless, of course, you are talking about the TOC. In the TOC, pages are referred to. These point to topics.
Clear as mud?
Helpful and Handy Links
Thanks Rick for making an attempt; couldn't have phrased it better--still clear as mud..
Okay, I'm interpreting that as meaning it really didn't make much better sense to you. I'll take another stab at it.
When we create content in RoboHelp, we create what most of the world would know as HTML Pages. These are simple files that contain HTML code. And on the World Wide Web, they would be generically called Web Pages.
But remember, RoboHelp is a Help Authoring application. Not a Web building tool. So while the tool (RoboHelp) actually creates different HTML Pages, in Help Authoring speak, we just call them Topics. Because we are typically describing something helpful. So this Topic is about clearing a paper jam from a printer while this other Topic is about How to Fill Out an Expense Report.
So generically speaking, each of our HTML Pages in our project is known as a different Topic. Sometimes we mix the terms can call them Topic Pages. So they are sort of synonomous in that respect. HTML Page = Topic
Now, part of building any respectable help system is the fact that you are able to create a Table of Contents (TOC). Each node (or entry) that is part of your TOC structure likely points to a different Topic in your project. But when we edit the TOC, we generically say we are creating a Page. (This is typically because the TOC most often uses icons that look like Open or Closed Books, with Pages inside each Book that individually point to Topics.)
Hopefully that makes better sense... Rick
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You wrote: "the TOC most often uses icons that look like Open or Closed Books, with Pages inside each Book that individually point to Topics" --What I'm not quite getting here, is why are these pages that point to topics needed? What is their added value? When I select from the New options, New-->Page, I get the New TOC Page dialog, in which I either have to create a topic or link to an existing topic. If I create a new topic, then I could have done so directly, why the roundabout? When I link to an existing topic, it displays it in the TOC in the insertion point, but I could have achieved the same result by simply moving the topic to the desired location.
You also wrote: "Sometimes we mix the terms can call them Topic Pages." I have faith that there's a good reason that Adobe decided to differentiate between the two in the menu options.
Truly appreciate that you didn't give up and gave it a second try, but it hasn't answered the basic question.
I know Rick is about to travel so let me see if I can help.
First you have to understand the terminology is not Adobe's, it is an industry standard that has evolved within the authoring community and may not fit neatly with web site terminology.
When you are designing the TOC you will start by creating the Books. Some authors like to set things up so that when the user clicks the book, a topic is opened as well, others prefer that it just opens to let the user pick a topic. After you have created a Book, you need to list topics underneath. However, here the topics are known as pages. Like it or not, that's the way it has evolved. You can add them using the menu you have shown or you can drag them from either Project Manager or the Topic List pod. The menu has also been set up so that if while creating the TOC you realise you need to create a new topic, one you forgot to write, you can do so from that menu.
As with many programs, there is often more than one way of doing things. Each users uses what suits them best.
See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips
Regarding the benefits of pages pointing to topics:
Placeholders (TOC Pages) allow a single topic to appear in multiple places in the TOC. If the TOC were directly using the topic, then each topic could only display in a single place. For example, perhaps the help is divided into User and Administrator sections, and both administrators and regular users can add contact details to a person in the application. Using a placeholder allows a single procedure to be created (as the task is the same for both users) and then referenced in the two sections of the TOC. If topics were being used directly, two different topics would need to be created. You can also organise your topics in a folder structure that suits you and use a different structure in the TOC.
The placeholder also allows a different display name to be used, for example if you have a long topic name but want a shorter name to appear in the TOC, or if the topic appears in several places in your TOC and you want to put slightly different emphasis in each place, say for different groups of users.
Many thanks (name?). This was quite helpful, and peeking at the number of views within the last two days it seems it was helpful to many others as well. Cheers!