How to manage linking, searching across child projects

Community Beginner ,
Jul 12, 2019 Jul 12, 2019

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I see a lot of questions about technical difficulties but don't see anything about how to manage child projects in general. Two of us share 20 child projects (HTML5), which were originally a single giant project (CHM). We're on RH 2019 classic using TFS. At the moment, we're maintaining the giant project AND the child projects while programming finishes up doing what it needs to do to deploy HTML5 child projects instead of a single CHM project.

1. We miss is being able to find ALL the topics that link to a topic (in single project: Project Manager > right click topic > Show > Topic Links). This method only finds links within the current project, so how can we find ALL the linked topics across the child projects? Do we search the topic's html file name in the source files somehow?

2. While we tried to split up the single project as logically as possible, we still sometimes struggle to find where a topic is located. So far, we've been searching the source files for the topic's .html file name, but is there a better method to search across all child projects? Occasionally, the .html name does not match the topic name and we get stuck.

Basically, we keep going back to the source files to accomplish cross-child project goals but that increases the chance of moving, altering, deleting (!!) a file. Is there anything in RH that can reach across projects? Being that many work with merged projects, is there any chance RH will one day recognize child projects as being "bonded" and give them appropriate functionality?

Thank you in advance!!!

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Adobe Community Professional , Jul 12, 2019 Jul 12, 2019
There is nothing within RoboHelp that will let you see the linked topics in the same way as you do in a single project. That said I've not seen anyone ask for it before and it was not something I needed with 14,000 topics across the projects. Essentially that was because the child projects contained logical topic groupings.You have mentioned that you have tried to do that so I guess your topics didn't make it quite as easy.I think you will need to use something like Ultra Search which I have fou...

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 12, 2019 Jul 12, 2019

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There is nothing within RoboHelp that will let you see the linked topics in the same way as you do in a single project. That said I've not seen anyone ask for it before and it was not something I needed with 14,000 topics across the projects. Essentially that was because the child projects contained logical topic groupings.You have mentioned that you have tried to do that so I guess your topics didn't make it quite as easy.

I think you will need to use something like Ultra Search which I have found very efficient in a different context. I haven't tried for your purpose but think it would work well as you can set up different folders to be searched. You would thus just search your projects rather than a whole drive.

What I did use was Xenu. The UI is not the best but it was great at searching a merged output (not CHMs) for broken links, both internal and external. I have been pushing for a similar feature in RoboHelp and am hopeful it will come at some point in the 2019 version. I doubt there will be much development in the Classic version.

Hope this helps.


See www.grainge.org for free RoboHelp and Authoring information.

@petergrainge

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Community Beginner ,
Jul 15, 2019 Jul 15, 2019

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Thank you Peter. I'm surprised no one wants to search across all their projects for information: in my case, the child projects are essentially a unified project, but the unified project as a whole is cumbersome to deliver to clients. I've used Xenu and will look into Ultra Search. Thanks again!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 15, 2019 Jul 15, 2019

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I didn't quite say no one wanted to, just that I hadn't seen anyone else ask for it and I hadn't needed to.

Be aware that if you change to 2019, that uses responsive skins rather than webhelp and there you always need to deliver the full merged output. With webhelp you could just deliver updated child projects but that's not the case with merged responsive help, at least, not last time I checked. Put in a made up word such as redgiraffe into a child project and update that only to test. I am assuming there are no redgiraffes in your help.


See www.grainge.org for free RoboHelp and Authoring information.

@petergrainge

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 14, 2019 Jul 14, 2019

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One workplace, we used variables for the links. You still can't automatically find them, but at least changing them is only required in a couple of places (plus ensuring all the child projects have the same suite of variables - you'll need defined rules for naming, communication and updating ALL variables as they're all stored in a single file).

We made the rule that the link to another topic only ever came as a self contained paragraph ("See Creating a Snazzy Widget.") and added that text as the variable value. The downside was we needed to create multiple variables for each level of folders where the link would be used (so try to keep your source folder structure flat) and would need to remember to use the correct variable in each topic.

e.g.

Snazzy_widget for the root folder

Snazzy_widget_L1 for the first level folders

Snazzy_widget_L2 for the second level folders.

The link had to be manually edited to ensure the correct relative path was entered.

e.g. root was "../child_2/path/to/topic.htm"

(from the root folder, go up one folder, into child_2 project and down to whatever topic)

l1 was "../../child_2/path/to/topic.htm"
(from a topic in the first level of folders, go up to the root, then up one more, then down into the child_2 project and down to whatever topic)

etc.

EDIT: Oh wait, I might be confusing which product we had to do multiple variables for. I think RH *might* adjust the URLs in variables. I'll have to test later, so you might be able to create a single variable to manage an inter-project link.

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Community Beginner ,
Jul 15, 2019 Jul 15, 2019

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Thanks Amebr. Do widgets only work within a single project? I'm looking for an option that can search across multiple (child) projects. In any case, I'm sure I can use widgets for good, but your link isn't working for me--can you repost?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 15, 2019 Jul 15, 2019

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@Amber When you reply could you clarify how that would help search for links between the projects as they exist now? I can see how what you did would simplify maintaining links going forward but I thought the issue was finding them now.

@Nicole Is the issue maintenance going forward or searching in what you have now? Also there's a page on my site that shows how I dealt with splitting up a 14,000 topic project but that was ten years ago. I suspect you are too far down the path for it to help but you are the best judge of that. Splitting a Project


See www.grainge.org for free RoboHelp and Authoring information.

@petergrainge

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Community Beginner ,
Jul 15, 2019 Jul 15, 2019

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The issue is searching what I have now. I've split the project already (using your site--THANK YOU) and programming is already deep into updating our software to deploy the split project properly to clients.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 15, 2019 Jul 15, 2019

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@Nicole There was no link, it was just an example of the text we used for links in that merged setup. That text would be the variable value.

Variables is the thing in Robohelp I was suggesting, and unfortunately it won't help you find the cross project links now, only ease maintenance going forward.

The only way is to use a search tool to find the known broken patterns using regular expressions. I did this at a previous job and I would recommend TextCrawler as it has a nifty preview that helps you see what your regular expression will match and lets you save the required patterns for future use. Setting up the expressions using one project is pretty labour intensive, but if you have more than a couple of projects it really pays off.

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Community Beginner ,
Jul 16, 2019 Jul 16, 2019

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@Amebr I checked out TextCrawler and it's exactly what we need! The free version is perfect, too 🙂 Thank you very much for the suggestion!

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