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Hello to you oh-so-helpful forum folks!
I have inherited several RH projects, one of which uses WebHelp for output--and that is the project I'm having trouble with. I am using RH 18.104.22.1681 and have all updates installed. I am not overly familiar with WebHelp.
The compiled help was last checked into source control on 12/14/2015, but it looks like quite a few files were later updated and checked in on 7/13/2016. I have updated only one file, and checked it in on 9/1/2017. In the existing compiled help, the TOC and index are visible and the product variable is where it's supposed to be. All of my examples are for using IE 11, but the same is true of Chrome and Edge.
When I compile the file now, however, it opens with a statement that the product variable is not defined and the TOC and index do not appear. In the project itself, the product variable is defined and displays properly. In the Project Manager, two files are defined in the TOC and Index folders: PL_Help (Default) and PLHelp. When I double-click to open any of those files, empty panes open.
Do you have suggestions for getting the TOC and index back? I dread that you might tell me I have to create them again.... Do you know why the variable is appearing in the project but not in the newly compiled help? I have researched the forum and found several issues related to mine, but they seem to be for older versions. I looked at a patch someone mentioned in a thread, but the files in the patch were older than what I currently have and, in the end, the thread seemed to indicate that they did not fix the disappearing TOC and index issue.
Thanks for your help, and let me know if I can provide screenshots of anything for clarification.
Little confused here - you talk about checking in the compiled help - normally your project files live in source control and you check them out to work on them or generate help output (in any of the flavours RH produces). That help output may then be put someplace else for inclusion in builds or may be published to a web server or another location.
When you generate help, IIRC, you select the set of variables you want to have used in the Single Source Layout. Maybe you missed doing that?
I mentioned the checking in only to establish that I had a compiled help file with one date and other files with a different date. We use Team Foundation Server and typically check in every file in the help folder, although I usually keep everything checked out until I'm finished with my updates. In any case, my confusion is that the current compiled help has a TOC and an index, but those things are missing when I compile the help with my updates. I also don't see the TOC or index in the help project, although they must have been there when the help was last compiled.
As for the variables, they show up in the User Defined Variables pod. I don't know where to select a set of variables to use during a compile. I have looked in the WebHelp Settings (screenshot attached), but cannot find a setting for variables in any of the options.
Can you show what's on that "Content <default>" screen?
Yep. Oh, duh, now I see what you meant. However, it's pointing to the default set, and that's where the variables I need are. Why would it not pick up the set?
That almost looks like there aren't any variables at play in the project - if you call up a topic in the generated help, does it show the correct variable in use?
Actually, can you screen capture the User Defined Variables pod please?
@Jeff - I'm thinking the drop-down is disabled because only a single set of variables has been defined. I don't believe you see it being enabled until you have two or more variable sets.
The variables are being used in the help project files and they appear in the existing compiled help. They just don't work when I compile the help now. This is the only variable set.
I also wanted to ask whether the text in the TOC and index might be hiding in a file with an extension I'm unaware of. Do you know where else I can look for the TOC and index? What are those files normally named, that is, how are they named in Explorer?
Curious if you change the Build Expression to "None", if things begin working?
My thought is that perhaps where the variables are supposed to appear maybe a CBT has been applied and content isn't showing?
In Explorer, the TOC should have a name identical to the project name but using a file extension of .HHC (HTML Help Contents). Index is similar but the file extension is .HHK (HTML Help Keywords).
When you expand the Table of Contents and Index folders in the Project Manager, do you see them listed there? If not, you should and that may be part of the issue. If you see them there, try double-clicking each of them and see if the entries show.
Ah, thanks. I will try to remember those file extensions for the future. I have to admit defeat now, unfortunately. It appears that the previous writer must have saved the TOC and index only to her hard drive and never checked in the files. Or something. We cannot find the contents in source control or the history, and her computer is no longer with us. All that exist are placeholder HHC and HHK files. double argh.
I don't suppose there's a way to rebuild from the WebHelp file itself?
Changing the build expression does not affect the variables, and I need to keep it the way it is because of conditional topics we have. I did run the experiment, though.
The only CBT I know of is computer-based training. What do you mean by the term? At this point, I'm about ready to just replace all the blasted variables with text. This is a cursed file!
In Robo-speak, CBT = Conditional Build Tags
Sorry about that. CBT means Conditional Build Tag. Used with Build Expressions.
The fact you tried without a build expression and you are seeing the same behavior is enough to rule that out.
Are you open for connecting one on one where I might see your screen and try to help you work through things? If so, shoot me a private email at rickstone1975 (at) gmail (dot) com and I'd be happy to configure a screen share and see if we might work through it.
And if you aren't comfortable doing that, that's fine too. I just had a small bit of unexpected free time this afternoon and thought I'd toss out the offer.
I connected using WebEx and while we have no good explanations as for why things happened the way they did, we seemed to resolve it by using RoboHelp to create a totally new TOC and Index and import the content from an older TOC and Index. While that did seem to correct the blank issues we were seeing, the TOC would end up blank in the browser after opening the Index until we reloaded the entire WebHelp output. But I believe that's more aligned with browser changes and the older WebHelp code.
As for the UDV aspect, we did clear the CPD and at one point all the variables just performed a disappearing act. So we added them back in carefully, then looked at the UDV report to determine which were left orphaned. Once we added them back to the project it appeared that things were more back to normal when generating. No more variable undefined messages showing.
I cannot thank you enough, Rick! I would have been creating a new TOC and index from scratch, and we know how much of a joy that is. You are a gentleman and a scholar, and I really appreciate your help.
I'm more than happy to have helped you get back in business! Hope it "sticks"!
Regarding the disappearing files in Project Manager after deleting the cpd file, if it happens again, try this quick trick. I admit I haven't seen it with UDV content (but have with htm, css, js and images), but it's quick and won't hurt to try.
If the Project Manager, create a new folder - anywhere and call it anything you want (even leave it as "New Folder"). Let Robohelp think, which may be a very long time for large projects - so perhaps kick this off just before you head off for lunch. Check the location of the missing files to see if they have returned. Regardless of whether it worked or not, you can safely delete the new (temporary) folder.
If it does work, you will have to repeat this step every time you clear the cpd file. As near as I can tell, creating the new folder forces RH to refresh the database in some way that just re-creating the cpd file doesn't. (I'd also encourage you to submit a bug report if the files do reappear, as I've been reporting this for about a decade and 3-4 bug tracking systems now.)
(Oh, and doing this is a bit of a pain with source control systems, so you might have to do a little cleanup there to either delete the checked in new folder, or discard the new folder before it's checked in.)
Wow, interesting suggestion! I hope it doesn't happen again, but I will try this if needed. I have to say that it's pretty discouraging that you've had to report this bug for so long.
It's been hard to reproduce reliably, which also makes it hard to fix. "Recently" I could reliably reproduce it for the css in one of the sample files, so hopefully that will help.