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Conditional tagging,single sourcing and reducing the project size

New Here ,
Jul 19, 2015

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Hi all,

I am using RoboHelp 10, and trying to figure out a solution to some problem areas in the project I am working on,  like:

  1. The RoboHelp project that we work on is quite large. As a result, generating outputs takes a lot of time. WebHelp output takes more than 15 minutes at times, whereas PDF output gets stuck, and ultimately, we need to cancel it. We have some sections in our project that are extensively used by all authors. So we do not want to split the project into multiple child projects and then merge it back again as that would mean unequal distribution of work among our team members. How can we reduce the project size to increase efficiency? Is it something to do with file corruption or the number of pages?
  2. We use two separate projects for CS Help and WebHelp. We are also planning to conditionally tag the WebHelp project for CS content, so that we can create the CS Help and WebHelp using single-sourcing. One solution that I think might work is to create a new ToC for the CS Help within the WebHelp project, and generate the tagged output. On trying it out, it didnt work though. Also, can I use a different stylesheet for both WebHelp and CS Help? if yes, any suggestions as to how I can do that? 

I would really appreciate any help from all the experts here.

Thanks,

RA

Thanks for the additional info, Rachael.

With respect to, "Exclude Unreferenced Topics from Output," something to keep in mind that several output formats will include topics that aren't explicitly listed in the TOC. So this checkbox is used to exclude topics that you otherwise haven't referenced.

However, another approach uses Conditional Build Tags that are applied on the Topic-level.

For example, of your 2,000 pages, suppose that a significant portion of those were not included in the TOC, but you want a handful of reference pages available through the Search function. Do the following:

  1. Create a Conditional Build Tag along the lines of, "Exclude From All."
  2. In the Topic List, select all the topics, right-click and choose Properties.
  3. On the Advanced tab, tick your Exclude From All checkbox, ...tick this once...then wait for RoboHelp to update (this will be a long wait for 2,000 topics.
  4. Once you have visual confirmation that the checkbox is ticked, click OK to close the dialog. Again, there will be a lag.
  5. In your TOC, right-click each chapter and use hotkeys [y + n] to access the conditional build tags.
  6. For each chapter in turn, clear the Exclude From All checkbox. There will be a slight lag, per the number of topics in each chapter.
  7. In the Topic List, locate the topics that, though they aren't in the TOC, you want them to be compiled with the project. Clear the Exclude From All checkbox for each of these.
  8. In the Conditional Build Expression for your project, confirm that your Exclude From All tag is in the Exclude from output column.

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Conditional tagging,single sourcing and reducing the project size

New Here ,
Jul 19, 2015

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Hi all,

I am using RoboHelp 10, and trying to figure out a solution to some problem areas in the project I am working on,  like:

  1. The RoboHelp project that we work on is quite large. As a result, generating outputs takes a lot of time. WebHelp output takes more than 15 minutes at times, whereas PDF output gets stuck, and ultimately, we need to cancel it. We have some sections in our project that are extensively used by all authors. So we do not want to split the project into multiple child projects and then merge it back again as that would mean unequal distribution of work among our team members. How can we reduce the project size to increase efficiency? Is it something to do with file corruption or the number of pages?
  2. We use two separate projects for CS Help and WebHelp. We are also planning to conditionally tag the WebHelp project for CS content, so that we can create the CS Help and WebHelp using single-sourcing. One solution that I think might work is to create a new ToC for the CS Help within the WebHelp project, and generate the tagged output. On trying it out, it didnt work though. Also, can I use a different stylesheet for both WebHelp and CS Help? if yes, any suggestions as to how I can do that? 

I would really appreciate any help from all the experts here.

Thanks,

RA

Thanks for the additional info, Rachael.

With respect to, "Exclude Unreferenced Topics from Output," something to keep in mind that several output formats will include topics that aren't explicitly listed in the TOC. So this checkbox is used to exclude topics that you otherwise haven't referenced.

However, another approach uses Conditional Build Tags that are applied on the Topic-level.

For example, of your 2,000 pages, suppose that a significant portion of those were not included in the TOC, but you want a handful of reference pages available through the Search function. Do the following:

  1. Create a Conditional Build Tag along the lines of, "Exclude From All."
  2. In the Topic List, select all the topics, right-click and choose Properties.
  3. On the Advanced tab, tick your Exclude From All checkbox, ...tick this once...then wait for RoboHelp to update (this will be a long wait for 2,000 topics.
  4. Once you have visual confirmation that the checkbox is ticked, click OK to close the dialog. Again, there will be a lag.
  5. In your TOC, right-click each chapter and use hotkeys [y + n] to access the conditional build tags.
  6. For each chapter in turn, clear the Exclude From All checkbox. There will be a slight lag, per the number of topics in each chapter.
  7. In the Topic List, locate the topics that, though they aren't in the TOC, you want them to be compiled with the project. Clear the Exclude From All checkbox for each of these.
  8. In the Conditional Build Expression for your project, confirm that your Exclude From All tag is in the Exclude from output column.

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LEGEND ,
Jul 20, 2015

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What is CS Help?

1:

  • How many topics does the project have? Speed does depend on the number of topics but 15 mins. is not unreasonable for a mid size project.
  • Can you generate a Word document ok? Or is it only the PDF. Does the PDF creation succeed with one of the sample project.

2:

  • This seems to counter your first point. Single sourcing is avoiding breaking it up to allow better content management.
  • Yes, you can use conditional tags for this. What exactly did you try out? There is probably something amiss in the steps. If you provide more details, we may know where it is going wrong. Also take a look at the sample projects. They show how you can apply tags.
  • For the CSS: In the Single Source Layout, you can assign as CSS to all topics on generation. Check the content page.

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LEGEND ,
Jul 20, 2015

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Just guessing here that CS help meand Context Sensitive?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 20, 2015

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@Rick – that was my guess too, but the comment that the OP had one flavour for CSH and another for WebHelp didn’t make too much sense. I guess we’ll need some more clarification from the OP ;>)

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Participant ,
Jul 20, 2015

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From your descriptions, you have quite a bit going on, which I'm having trouble wrapping my mind about.

However, with respect to complation time. Have you considered constructing a high-end machine, including an SSD, to help ramp down the compilation time?

With respect to the PDF generation hanging, are you able to perform the PDF as a separate compilation? I'm thinking your computer is getting bogged down (i.e., getting low on resources), and compiling the PDF in addition to other output formats is contributing to excessive compilation time.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 21, 2015

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PDF hanging could be a resource issue but assuming you have tried allowing it to run overnight, it could be a more common issue where some users simply cannot generate directly to PDF but going to Word first works just fine. From there creating the PDF works just fine.

Some years ago there was some research into the right PC for technical authors. The conclusion was that the overriding feature was disk access speed.

As using different CSS for each output, in the output dialog you will see you can set any CSS to override what is defined in the topics.


See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

@petergrainge

www.grainge.org for free RoboHelp & Authoring info. Use the blue Reply button at the top to help me help you.
The black Reply link nests replies and they sort out of order.

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New Here ,
Jul 22, 2015

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Hi all,

Thanks for replying. I have used the term "CS Help" for Context Sensitive Help.

Okay, maybe I should give more details.  I have tried PDF generation on other RoboHelp projects for our organization's products. No issues there. This particular project that I am talking about has more than 2000 pages, and is yet to grow more, as we need to keep adding details for all new developments. Also, we use a lot of graphics, which also increase the project size considerably. Is there any threshold for the number of topics our project should have for it to work smoothly or with minimum issues?

Let me put down the steps I have taken to generate the Context Sensitive Help out of my main Project (I used a similar approach in Adobe Framemaker to conditionally tag content):

  1. Created a new ToC for CS Help, with the same book level-structure (path) as required in the output.
  2. Created a new tag for CS content, and tagged the content in a few topics for testing.
  3. Selected WebHelp in Single Source Layout.
  4. Selected the new ToC and also selected the new CS tag in Conditional Build Expression, in the WebHelp Settings> Content Categories> Content window.
  5. Generated the WebHelp.

Should I also select " Exclude Unreferenced Topics from Output" ?

I did not see any change in the webhelp even after applying the new tag to my topics. It gave me the same old output.

Thanks!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 22, 2015

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There are two key issues here, PDF Generation and WebHelp Outputs.

PDF GENERATION

Gagging at 2,000 text topics does not surprise me, let alone all the graphics. I worked extensively some years back with a lady who had a problem generating webhelp, which is less intensive than generating PDFs. No matter what she did and no matter how good the machine then, she could not generate webhelp. The eventual solution was to create merged help so that the end user saw one output but she was generating a number of smaller outputs.

I had problems myself with a large printed document that would miss just a few topics. I had a good spec machine but at home I had an even better one that would generate the same printed document without any issues. It could thus be a machine spec issue but first I would want to rule out the known PDF problem. Can you generate the same output to Word alone?

If not, try creating two copies of the Print layout and trash different halves of the topics in each. Do they then generate OK? The downside here is that links from one half to the other half will be broken. I am not sure if then merging the two Word documents would fix them.

Post back how you get on.

WEBHELP OUTPUTS

I think what no one here is understanding is why you are creating a second output for CSH (the more usual acronym). A single output can be used and it is for your developers to call the required topic from that. Does your CSH have different content and, if so, why?


See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

@petergrainge

www.grainge.org for free RoboHelp & Authoring info. Use the blue Reply button at the top to help me help you.
The black Reply link nests replies and they sort out of order.

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Participant ,
Jul 22, 2015

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Some years ago there was some research into the right PC for technical authors. The conclusion was that the overriding feature was disk access speed.


Well, another factor would be the amount of RAM available to the system. If system RAM is inadequate, then you'll have more swapping taking place (i.e., the computer temporarily using hard drive space as a holding area for RAM data that is being set aside to make room for more data). Improving disk access speed would speed up this swapping, creating the appearance of improved performance, even though the root issue was lack of RAM.


With 2,000 pages with an abundance of images, I am not surprised that the system would be chugging. So when I suggest constructing a "high end" machine, I mean something along the lines of:


  • 16 GB RAM
  • 1 TB SSD (Solid State Drive)


Preferably, that SSD would be internal. If it's external, then keep in mind that the port type will be the data bottleneck (i.e., you'd want thunderbolt or USB 3).


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Participant ,
Jul 22, 2015

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Thanks for the additional info, Rachael.

With respect to, "Exclude Unreferenced Topics from Output," something to keep in mind that several output formats will include topics that aren't explicitly listed in the TOC. So this checkbox is used to exclude topics that you otherwise haven't referenced.

However, another approach uses Conditional Build Tags that are applied on the Topic-level.

For example, of your 2,000 pages, suppose that a significant portion of those were not included in the TOC, but you want a handful of reference pages available through the Search function. Do the following:

  1. Create a Conditional Build Tag along the lines of, "Exclude From All."
  2. In the Topic List, select all the topics, right-click and choose Properties.
  3. On the Advanced tab, tick your Exclude From All checkbox, ...tick this once...then wait for RoboHelp to update (this will be a long wait for 2,000 topics.
  4. Once you have visual confirmation that the checkbox is ticked, click OK to close the dialog. Again, there will be a lag.
  5. In your TOC, right-click each chapter and use hotkeys [y + n] to access the conditional build tags.
  6. For each chapter in turn, clear the Exclude From All checkbox. There will be a slight lag, per the number of topics in each chapter.
  7. In the Topic List, locate the topics that, though they aren't in the TOC, you want them to be compiled with the project. Clear the Exclude From All checkbox for each of these.
  8. In the Conditional Build Expression for your project, confirm that your Exclude From All tag is in the Exclude from output column.

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New Here ,
Jul 28, 2015

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Thanks a lot Eager Beager !!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 30, 2015

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@Eager Beager - I was only saying that the key feature was disk access speed, not that RAM was not important.

@Rachael - You have marked one of Eager Beager's posts as the correct answer but unless I am mistaken, it addresses one of the two issues. I have responded on the PDF problem and will be happy to work with you if that is still an issue.


See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

@petergrainge

www.grainge.org for free RoboHelp & Authoring info. Use the blue Reply button at the top to help me help you.
The black Reply link nests replies and they sort out of order.

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