Pasting From Word into RoboHelp - Bad Formatting

New Here ,
May 16, 2018 May 16, 2018

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Hi,

Currently have a process whereby our webhelp authors create content in MS Word 2016. This is then pasted into RoboHelp 2017. This results in formatting problems within RoboHelp which take a lot of time to fix. Is there a simple way to fix this by applying styles from our style sheet including existing 'table styles'.

There is a post on Peter Grainge's website in the area of 'Content Creation' which highlights this challenge (HERE). I'd like to understand more on how this can be achieved. Has anyone met similar challenges or aware of a historical post on this?

Thanks. 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 16, 2018 May 16, 2018

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The link you have posted is to the RoboHelp for Word section. That was a separate program that used Word as the editor. It was discontinued several versions of RoboHelp back.

You can either paste into RoboHelp or import the documents. The latter is described on my site. See Importing and Linking Word Documents

If you want to paste in, the quickest way to clean the code is select all (CTRL A) in Design View and then click the Clear Formatting icon.

rh_clear_formatting.png

You will then need to work through the text to apply the styles from your CSS.


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

@petergrainge

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New Here ,
May 22, 2018 May 22, 2018

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Thanks Peter,

This is where the problem & the inefficiencies lie.

In my view MS Word is not a suitable for this process due to the formatting rework required 'post' import/paste but currently it seems to be the only option available to me outside of purchasing robohelp licenses for my 100+ authors. This is not an economically viable option & also would not be a desirable process solution for other specific reasons.

I would be surprised if this was not a common problem out there. My EMEA colleagues actually had to move off RoboHelp to get around this. Rightly or wrongly, it factored in their strategic decision.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 22, 2018 May 22, 2018

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Am I right in thinking that others work in Word and then you paste in?

What did the EMEA people use instead?

Peter Grainge

www.grainge.org

@petergrainge

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New Here ,
Jul 17, 2018 Jul 17, 2018

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Correct, Peter.

The authors work in word, submit to our dedicated team of technical writers who then paste into Robohelp and perform the necessary reformatting due to the incompatibility challenges between the two formats. our technical team really just perform this admin function while the 100+ authors write the underlying content since the knowledge sits with them.

I'm aware of others switching to madcap from robohelp to get around some of the challenges, however I'm not fully aware of the specifics so can't comment too much on that. However, I can say that they seem satisfied with the move.

Linking off to various MS word documents, while a potential workaround solution, is not our desired documentation model.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 18, 2018 Jul 18, 2018

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Are you able to force the writers to use a Word template that you create?

If you can, then following the import process on my site and mapping to a CSS designed to match that template should improve things.


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

@petergrainge

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Enthusiast ,
Jul 20, 2018 Jul 20, 2018

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We also run into similar formatting issues importing content from Word from our SMEs, and we end up with tons of "mso" prefix style attributes in the HTML. We're in the habit now of not importing doc files but we instead just re-type or copy and paste what they give us directly into RH and manually remove formatting. We're usually modifying what they give us anyway for simplicity and consistency with our internal style guide etc.

That said, I'm curious if Peter's approach works for you, to have them author inside a template created from RH styles that you can then import directly back into the project without style loss.

I never knew RH had that Clear Formatting option. Thanks for that. I just tested it and it works well for most things. However, at least one thing I ran into that it doesn't seem to handle is it doesn't remove the style structure from div tags. For example, I ended up with this in the HTML after using Clear Formatting. I'd expect it to just leave me with a flat set of div tags without any style attributes:

But still, a handy tool.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 21, 2018 Jul 21, 2018

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If you want a seriously serious tool for cleaning up PowerGrep is excellent, particularly used with Regular Expressions. It's a real learning curve but can do in seconds what would take hours or days to do manually. Be aware though, it can wreck a project beyond repair even quicker. When using PowerGrep, always back up before you start. I do mean ALWAYS.

You could write an expression that will find any tag with mso in it that will strip both the start and end tag but leave the content. Don't ask me to write it, I just know it can be done.

If you regularly have large amounts of content that need this sort of clean up, it could be worth getting a regex consultant in.


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

@petergrainge

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 21, 2018 Jul 21, 2018

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To be clear, it's the regular expressions that are the real learning curve. PowerGrep needs some learning but nothing like so much.


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

@petergrainge

Please 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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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 22, 2018 Jul 22, 2018

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I hacked* together an extendscript that removes style, height, width, border, start and type attributes (leaves class, href, src, and target alone, for example). It's probably only appropriate for fresh imports, rather than adding small amounts of text to existing topics, though, as it works on the entire topic, not a selection.

I can't vouch for its security or efficiency, but I could post the code if you want.

*technical term for pinching random bits of code from other scripts and mashing random properties in until things work for my sample doc.

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Enthusiast ,
Jul 23, 2018 Jul 23, 2018

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Amebr, I'd like to see the code for that at least.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 23, 2018 Jul 23, 2018

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Hmm, I thought it was possible to attach a file to a forum post. Either I'm blind or they removed it. I might have to wait until I get home to use an internet file server to post a link (unless someone knows where the attach file option went.)

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LEGEND ,
Jul 23, 2018 Jul 23, 2018

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Nope! I'm pretty sure this forum software has never allowed attachments.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 23, 2018 Jul 23, 2018

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The help sticky post mentions it, but there's definitely no link were it says it was.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 23, 2018 Jul 23, 2018

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I think at one time certain file types were allowed but then it was changed to Images only. Maybe those file types were images only but certainly the sticky needs editing,

I suggest a Private message and exchange an email address.


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

@petergrainge

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 12, 2018 Aug 12, 2018

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Apologies for the delay. One of those months were everything happens at once.

I created a Github Gist. I think you can access it without signing up, but I've never used the service before, so let me know how it goes.

As mentioned, it's a complete Frankenhack and I guarantee nothing except that it works for my purposes. However the code should be fairly easy to decipher and I've commented as best I could (including a bit from the original Adobe script I adapted, that I wasn't sure what it did).

Adobe ExtendScript to remove attributes from elements in Robohelp topics · GitHub

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Enthusiast ,
Aug 13, 2018 Aug 13, 2018

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Thanks Amebr.

You're right, you don't have to sign up.

To anyone else who uses this, there's a Download Zip button in the above link that you can use to get the removeattributes.jsx. Just download that zip, extract the .jsx file inside of it to a folder of your choice. Then import the .jsx into your Script Explorer pod.

The script will ask you to choose an .htm file to Import. That doesn't mean it's importing the .htm into your current project. Rather it just processes the file and then saves it file back into the original folder you imported from, minus the removed attributes.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 13, 2018 Aug 13, 2018

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Oh, yeah, I should look at those dialog boxes. I R&D'd them from elsewhere.

*rip off and duplicate

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Contributor ,
Jun 08, 2018 Jun 08, 2018

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Hi pault4511844,

I have a similar situation to you where teams use Word to author disaster recovery documentation so I have direct experience with what you may be seeing. I link to those Word docs, which are stored in a network folder. I don't know whether you tried to use the 'linking to Word' functionality for this, but based upon what you wrote above, I would at least explore it. Peter's site has a lot of good information that can be used as a springboard to getting started with it.

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Resources
RoboHelp Documentation