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RoboHelp 2020 importing *.hm Map files - Loss of functionality compared to RoboHelp version 7

Explorer ,
Oct 26, 2021 Oct 26, 2021

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Just to put this query in context, I work with a software development company, and we use Microsoft Visual Studio 2019 for development and our sources are stored on GitHub. To create context-sensitive help files, I use map files (*.hm) that are generated by Visual Studio. Basically, whenever I need the latest version of the *.hm file for any given module, I have a workspace setup where I just need to do a "Get Latest" and the file gets updated automatically.

 

In RoboHelp version 7, the *.hm file was imported and used "as-is", without any modification. This means that whenever a new control and Map ID was added in the software by the programmers, all I needed to do was to overwrite the old *.hm file with the new one. The new Map ID would show in RH7, and existing associations were preserved. Easy peasy. We had a fully automated workflow for this.

 

Now in RH2020, that functionality is lost. Now, the *.hm file gets imported into a *.ali file. Once imported, RH does not have the ability to "append changes" if the original *.hm gets updated. You cannot import a file with the same name. This means that when programmers update the *.hm file, I have to manually look for new entries, and then use the RoboHelp UI to manually put these new entries in before doing the association with a topic. Of course, deleting the original map file and re-importing with the updated *.hm will cause existing associations to be lost... This is obviously not an option,

 

This is a serious loss of functionality. It completely breaks our automated workflow. In fact, I was forced by the dev team to stop the migration of our help system and revert back to RH7 until a suitable solution is found. We use RH2020 to create online contents and PDFs, but the HTML help system will need to remain on RH7 for the time being.

 

Am I missing something here?

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Community Expert ,
Oct 26, 2021 Oct 26, 2021

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I think you'll need to contact support with your questions. The email address on the following page is the recommended method: https://helpx.adobe.com/contact/enterprise-support.other.html#robohelp

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Community Expert ,
Oct 29, 2021 Oct 29, 2021

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Since I've only worked with MapIDs being defined in RH and sent out to the application to use (and not the other way round), I don't know how it was working for you in RH7, but I would have expected you to have to manually tell RH that Map# 42 corresponded to some topic in the project & when a new Map# was issued in the application, you would have had to go into the project & hook up the new # to a topic. So I'm puzzled how you got around that in RH7.

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Explorer ,
Oct 29, 2021 Oct 29, 2021

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When you set those map ID's yourself in RoboHelp, you have to export that list and give it to the developers. What they do then is that they configure those map ID's as parameters when the application calls the CHM, so that it opens directly on the desired topic.

 

When you work with map files generated by developers in Visual Studio, it's pretty much the same thing, except that I don't get to decide on the map ID name or numbering scheme. That's all determined by Visual Studio when it generates the file, so I save that step. Once the file is imported in RoboHelp 7, all I need to do is go File > Map ID's and associate the map name and number with a bookmark within a topic.

 

The application I work with has 12 modules, each with 1500+ Map ID's. Also, being under constant development, new controls, options, fields and combo boxes are added regularly. To get these new map ID's, all I need to do is do a "Get Latest" in Visual Studio and the file gets updated. The file is read when RoboHelp opens and the unused Map ID's are highlighted in yellow without any additional manipulation. All I need to do next is to write up the content for the new option, add a bookmark and associate it with the new map ID.

 

For a C++ developper working in Visual Studio, it's much easier to tick the "Include Help ID" box when adding a new control than it is to manually add all the required parameters after the fact. By ticking that box, the parameter to pass when calling the chm file is also automatically setup, and the *.hm file generated by Visual Studio is updated automatically. Letting Visual Studio handle this saves time and ensures that there are no duplicates. For me as technical writer, I just need to make sure that the chm I generate has a specific name, and there is sometimes a bit of research to figure out which Map ID goes with which control, but that's it, really.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 29, 2021 Oct 29, 2021

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Ok, so you're still manually hooking up the topics in the RH project - your original post had me thinking there was some automatic process involved when you talked about importing the map file from the developers.

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