I inherited a RoboHelp project that is linked to FrameMaker source files. I recently upgraded to Tech Comm Suite 2015 but have not yet been able to install the updates. The person who originally set up the project no longer works here, and I've never done a project this way before, so I'm having some trouble figuring this out on my own. I should add that I'm generating WebHelp.
I now have to make a new project that is a subset of the original. I created a new .book file in FrameMaker and added only the chapters I need, using conditional tags to mark text within those chapters that applies to one project but not the other. As far as the content goes, everything works fine in RoboHelp. The problem comes with the Table of Contents and Index. Here's what I am doing:
1. In FrameMaker, set the condition tag for all the files in the book, then generate the TOC and Index. These are correct---only the entries that are tagged with that condition appear.
2. In RoboHelp, create a new project and link it to the .book file. Convert the TOC and Index and update all the files in the book. The TOC and Index contain all the entries in all the source files, even if those entries appear in topics that are hidden in the source files.
In the conversion settings, I do see an option called "Apply FrameMaker Conditional Text Build Expression". I tried selecting that but it didn't seem to have any effect. I don't really understand what it means. WHAT conditional build expression does it mean? I expected to get a drop-down or be prompted for which condition(s) in the source files I wanted to use.
I have to think it's possible to do what I'm trying to do. I am probably missing a step or a setting somewhere but I cannot figure it out. Can anybody explain to me how I can get this to work?
You either decide to show/hide content in FM or in RH when you generate the help output. If you do it in FM, you set your show/hide settings and update the content accordingly, then you tell RH to use whatever FM has decided to show. That should then bring over only the bit you want to see in RH.
You may want to set up a fresh blank RH project and try importing the conditioned FM content instead of linking it. See if the right stuff appears in RH after doing that.
The content is not the problem. It's the entries in the TOC and index. I get all the topics in the TOC and all the index entries, even if they occur in content with a hidden condition. Even if I were to adjust these manually, the next time I update, the TOC and index are re-created.
Exactly what do you mean by this: "then you tell RH to use whatever FM has decided to show"? I know how to set the condition when I generate the output in both Frame and RH. The problem seems to be that all the TOC and index entries are being imported into RoboHelp, even if they do not show in the FrameMaker TOC and Index.
I have tried both importing and linking and the result is the same. Possibly I am not explaining this very well. It's taken me a long time to figure out how this project was set up in the first place.
And just to add a note, I tried this: In FrameMaker, I set the conditions by creating a build expression. Then I selected that "Apply FrameMaker Conditional Text Build Expression" checkbox on the FrameMaker conversion settings.
I was sure this would work...but it made no difference.
So if you set your Show/Hide settings in FM, update the book and generate new TOC & IX files, do they show only the topics that should be seen? If so, save all files & close the book (leave FM open). Then start RH up. Create a new blank project, select the "Apply FM Conditional Text Build Expression" and tell it to pull in the FM book - does it create a ToC & IX file that has all topics or just the ones that should show?
To simplify the discussion, let's say my two conditions are called Admin and EndUser (Admin is the original project with all content and EndUser is the subset project). There are also conditions in the files called Online and Print, which are used sparingly.
If I set the EndUser condition to show in FrameMaker and update the book, the TOC and Index correctly reflect the subset of topics I need. If all I needed was a PDF, I'd be in great shape 🙂
I've tried two scenarios:
1) I did as you suggested and used a conditional build expression in FM ("EndUser" or "Online"). Then I set the FM conversion settings in RoboHelp to "Apply FM Conditional Text Build Expression", linked the book, and updated all the files. In theory, this sounds like exactly what I need to do. However, not only did it pull in the entire TOC and Index, but it completely lost the conditions I had applied to the content. In other words, a topic that shouldn't be in the TOC at all (content that was marked with the "Admin" condition in FM) was included in the TOC, AND the content for that topic in RH no longer had the "Admin" condition applied to it. The only conditions that RH knew about were the Online and Print conditions that seem to be the defaults for a new project.
2) I set the conditions in FM by doing "Show as per Condition" and selecting both EndUser and Online. In RH I did NOT select the "Apply FM Conditional Text Build Expression", then linked the book and updated it. Once again, it pulled in the entire TOC and Index, but this time it maintained the conditions I had applied to the content. So in other words, the content that is marked "Admin" still has that condition in RH, but there are topics present in the TOC that were not showing in FM when I converted the TOC (and these will be blank in the help because the "Admin" condition is applied to all of the content). Similarly, all the index entries are present in the RH index, even though they weren't showing in the FM index file I converted.
So on the whole, #2 gives me better results. I could apply the "Admin" condition in the RH TOC after doing an update, even though I'd rather avoid manual steps, but applying the condition to individual index entries would be very tedious (and every time I do an update, the TOC and Index are wiped out and re-created, so I'd be re-applying the condition after every update).
I can't believe that it's not possible to do what I'm trying to do. I don't know if I'm missing a step or a setting, or if my sequence is off somewhere. This is very frustrating!
Interesting – my understanding was that if you hide something in FM and then tell RH to respect that, all you would get in RH were the visible bits that you saw in FM. I don’t know if linking vs. importing has any impact on that because in my experience, I import and tell FM to show everything & then use the CBT settings in RH when I generate WebHelp to hide the stuff that I want.
If you do your #2 scenario, what gets produced help-wise if you tell it to only include EndUser CBT tagged content in the SSL?
I'm having the exact same issue! The TOC entries are displayed even if the content is hidden. Did you ever get this to work? Re-applying the conditions to the TOC entries each time I update the content is too inefficient!! Echo the very frustrating...
My Frame source files are linked, and I selected the "import TOC" option in the book properties because I don't want to create the TOC manually -- I want it to update automatically when the Frame source changes. Any help or suggestions would be much appreciated!
So Kate, if you hide the stuff you don't want in FM & then update the book in FM, does the TOC look correct? If so, what happens to it when you bring it over to RH and tell RH to let FM do the conditioning?
Hey Jeff -- thanks for the quick reply!
I have not tried hiding the conditions in FM. I'm using RoboHelp's Dynamic Filtering feature in the HTML5 output, so I want to bring all the conditions over to RH, and I want them all to be available in the output. The Dynamic Filtering seems to be working perfectly on the topic content in the output.
The challenge: When a topic gets filtered out in the output view, the TOC entry doesn't get filtered out. It shows a blank page.
I can apply conditions to the TOC entries in RH, and that hides them appropriately in the output. But...the conditions are overwritten every time I update, which is not sustainable.
Hi Kate, no I never did get this to work. And the problem affects the index as well. I ended up doing a lot of reorganization to avoid the problem, and I still have to delete a few TOC and index entries manually before I generate the help in RoboHelp. Obviously this is not ideal!
Jeff, it looks like I dropped the ball in our earlier conversation. I tried every one of your suggestions and everything else I could think of, and as far as I'm concerned, this feature just doesn't work. If you just stick to FrameMaker, the conditions are applied as expected and the output is correct. Something is getting lost in translation 🙂
@LEH_0201 - are you all updated on both FM & RH2015 ends? If so, then I suspect it's busted (I'm pretty sure it used to work - if you hid it in FM, it didn't come over to RH)
@Kate - since you're bringing over everything into RH, what happens if you do a test project and just import it? Does the resulting TOC in the help output still show topics that you conditioned out at the SSL level? IIRC, the TOC in the RH project will show all, but the resulting TOC in the help output should suppress any conditions that weren't selected for inclusion in the SSL recipe.
I have now installed updates 1 and 2 for both FM and RH, which was not the case when I first posted this.
Since I couldn't get this to work the way I expected, I had to move on and figure out another way to get the correct output. So I haven't gone back to test my original setup with the patched software.
Sorry I can't be of any help. I agree with Kate, though---manually deleting the TOC and index entries you don't want is not a sustainable plan for a project of any size.
I’m pretty sure that if you set up a project in straight RH and have CBTs applied to topics, that the TOC will show them inside RH, but that they will be filtered in the resulting output’s TOC (according to the SSL recipe). But I haven’t got a copy of RH2015 to play around in these days.
Moving the Frame source files to RH would certainly do the trick (tested, and conditionalized TOC entries work as expected).
But...this is a legacy project with 6 individual Frame books, and the powers that be want PDFs of these individual books in addition to the combined HTML5 output with a couple custom HTML files added for good measure. Not sure how much work it would be to set up PDF output from RoboHelp.
I'm now considering conditionalizing only at the book level, which would at least reduce the number of TOC entries to re-conditionalize (6 instead of 100s). As for the index entries, maybe it's time to let them go. Does anyone really use index entries any more?
Does anyone really use index entries any more?
Be still my heart! The Index is *THE* single most powerful feature in on-line help. At least it is to me. When an index is done right it is absolutely THE fastest way for the end user to find what they are looking for. When I facilitate RoboHelp classes, I demonstrate the typical method of using Search and contrast it to using the Index. And the real world comparison is to say that imagine you have a city full of people. You are looking for one bad guy. You can use a nuclear bomb to get him and that's like searching. After you drop the bomb you have to wade through body after body to discover the one you want to confirm. Or, you can send in that laser guided missile that lands in the room where the bad guy is.
Love the analogies you come up with Rick!
Am I hallucinating what I think should work as described in post#13?
Re #13, you are talking about a project that's done entirely in RoboHelp. The problem Kate and I are having is that if you set the conditions in FrameMaker (which I did because I also need to produce PDF), then when you import the files into RoboHelp, any conditions set at the topic level are lost. (Conditions within the topics---for example, a single paragraph or a few words---are maintained correctly.) So you have to apply the topic-level conditions manually in RoboHelp every time you update the FrameMaker files, which is not a sustainable plan. As I said, I had to move on and did a lot of restructuring on my original book in order to get the output results I wanted with minimal fuss. It sounds like Kate's project is more complicated than mine.
As for the indexing discussion, I will just say that at one point, I suggested that I could disable the index just for one release cycle while I investigated other solutions. Having no index in the online help was considered "an unacceptable loss of functionality" and "a bad user experience." And it was the lead developer who said that!
Hmm, topic-level conditioning from FM. Not sure how that would have ever come over to RH. Say you paginate on FM Heading1’s & you’ve applied a CBT in FM to that heading and all the content up to the next Heading1. That would come over with conditions applied to the topic content, but not on the topic itself. I wonder if some marker or just applying the CBT to the heading would make any difference?
Spent some time on this today (maybe you heard the sound of my head banging against the wall ).
I considered moving everything to RoboHelp, but a nice-looking PDF is required, and I don't have time to create master pages and styles (plus, publishing to PDF was taking more than an hour in RH), so I abandoned that idea. My next thought was to use Frame alone, and publish HTML5 directly from Frame. I set up the styles, build expressions, etc., did a test run, and Surprise! The HTML5 TOC generated from Frame also includes the top-level headings (chapter titles) for content that is filtered out. I get TOC entries for empty chapters! It's exactly the same thing that was happening in RH. LOL Adobe, LOL!
I set the conditions and published to PDF, and there are no bookmarks or empty topics for the chapters that are hidden, which is what I expected from the HTML TOC as well.
Do TOC entries always show up in HTML output, even if all the chapter content is conditionally excluded? Is it not possible to exclude chapters using conditions -- without manually applying conditions in RoboHelp?
Kate, if you need to exclude an entire chapter from the RH, you can exclude it from the FM book file (right-click and pick "Exclude"). I am pretty sure this will give you the results you want in RH, but it's been a while since I tried it. My problem was that I wanted to exclude certain topics within a chapter, not the whole chapter, and I never got that to work.
As for publishing directly from FM, your experience supports my theory that all this does is call RH behind the scenes so you don't have to go to the trouble of opening both applications. Like you, I got exactly the same results by publishing from FM as I got from going through RH.
Perhaps I expected too much, but I don't think that what we are trying to do is all that unusual!