RoboHelp Server: An introduction

As technical communicators, one of our key responsibilities is to optimize the value of the user-assistance content that we deliver. What defines the value of content? I focus on the following key indicators:

  • The topics should be search-optimized and populated with the right keywords. Users should be able to reach the right topics when they search using the relevant keywords (if not close to relevant keywords!).
  • Once users reach a topic, they should be able to quickly find answers to the most pertinent questions that they have in that product area.
  • Based on the Web traffic details for a topic, key documentation areas must be identified and optimized.

For optimizing content in alignment with these indicators, we need specific information about our users’ content access patterns. This is where RoboHelp Server proves valuable as a powerful application for hosting, tracking, and managing RoboHelp output in multiple formats.

The many reports that RoboHelp Server provides help identify how users navigate user-assistance content and the product areas where this content needs to be strengthened:

  • Search Terms with No Results: Search terms that returned no results and the number of times users searched for them
  • Frequently Searched Terms: Frequently-searched keywords and how many times users searched for them
  • Frequently Accessed CSH: Frequently-accessed context-sensitive Help topics and how many times they are accessed. The report is arranged by the context IDs of the CSH topics.
  • Frequently Viewed Topics: Report on Topics that end users view most often
  • Usage Statistics: Chronological graphical report of the number of hits to the Help system as a whole. Pages searched for and not opened reflect in this list. The usage statistics report has three additional tabs:
  • Page Views: Number of pages viewed over a given window of time. The window of time is determined by the labels along the X axis.
  • Pages Per Visit: Number of pages viewed per visit. Every instance when a user opens the project is considered as a separate visit. Visits from different Web browsers are counted separately.
    • Browser: Comparative data about the Web browsers in which users viewed the Help content
    • OS: Comparative data about the operating systems on which users viewed the Help content
  • Search Trends: The percentage of search terms that returned no results. The detailed view of this report gives the total number of search terms and how many of them returned results/no results.
  • Help System Errors: Error messages encountered by the current logged-in user

Ankur Jain, Adobe’s product manager for RoboHelp, shares his perspective of the business relevance of these reports in an excellent blog post titled, Create What They Want to Read.

For the while, I’ll leave you with some other insightful community content for RoboHelp Server:

Explore these links and do come back later for more information and tips. Happy reading!

Search enhancements in RoboHelp Server 9

Tulika Goel from the RoboHelp team has posted a useful article on search enhancements in RoboHelp Server 9 at the Technical Communication blog.

Starting with RoboHelp Server 9, authors can continue to leverage strengths of Lucene Search Engine and also retain control over the search results. RoboHelp provides a number of constructs like Synonyms, Stop List and External Keyword Search; using which authors can controls search results for specific words.

Read the complete article here.

If you’re looking for RoboHelp Server 9 documentation, you can download the PDF from this URL. The Adobe RoboHelp Server 9 Reviewer’s Guide is here (PDF).

Content Services: WebSphere stops responding when many concurrent threads are running

When the storeContent operation for Content Services 9 is invoked with more than 30 threads, the WebSphere application server may stop responding.

Follow these steps to resolve the issue:

  1. In WebSphere Administrative Console, click Servers > Server Types > WebSphere application servers and then click a server name.
  2. In the right pane, click Thread pools under Additional Properties.
  3. Click WebContainer and, on the Configuration page, increase the value of the Maximum Size field by double the number of threads that you need to run. For example, increase the value of the Maximum Size field by 80 if you want to run 40 threads.
  4. Click Apply or OK.
  5. Click Save directly to the master configuration.
  6. Restart the WebSphere application server.

Convert files to PDF using Adobe Reader

Adobe Reader X features nifty integration with Acrobat.com that lets you quickly convert many types of files to PDF. At last count, many popular formats, including the following, are supported for conversion:

  • Adobe PostScript (PS) and Encapsulated PostScript (EPS)
  • Adobe Photoshop (PSD), Adobe Illustrator (AI), and Adobe InDesign (INDD)
  • Microsoft Excel (XLS, XLSX), Microsoft PowerPoint (PPT, PPTX), and Microsoft Excel (XLS, XLSX)
  • Text (TXT) and Rich Text Format (RTF)
  • Image files (bitmap, JPEG, GIF, TIFF, PNG)
  • Corel WordPerfect (WPD)
  • OpenOffice and StarOffice presentation, spreadsheet, graphic, and document files (ODT, ODP, ODS, ODG, ODF, SXW, SXI, SXC, SXD, STW)

To walk you through the process, let me convert a PowerPoint presentation to PDF. (Simply click any of the screenshots below to view them full-size.)

  1. In Adobe Reader X, select File > CreatePDF Online.
  2. In the Create PDF Files area in the right pane, click Add File and then select the file that you want to convert to PDF. I selected Sample_presentation.pdf.
  3. Click Convert and, when prompted, sign in using your Adobe.com credentials (Adobe ID). Adobe Reader uploads the file to CreatePDF Online and then converts it to PDF. The converted file is saved online by default.
  4. To save the converted file locally to your computer, click Retrieve PDF File. Adobe Reader displays the CreatePDF repository in a browser window, so that you can work with it.
    • Select the newly-created PDF file (in my case, Sample_presentation.pdf) and click Download. Save the file to a local directory.
  5. Note that you can also use the online CreatePDF view to combine multiple PDF files. Now, isn’t that cool?

    I’m sure you’ll love these new Adobe Reader features! For more information, refer to this Help article.

Content Services: Disable content indexing

You can disable content indexing to improve Content Services 9 performance. Disabling indexing also disables text-based search within new content. However, you can still search within already-indexed content.

Follow these steps to disable indexing:

  1. In the adobe-contentservices.ear file, navigate to LiveCycle Content Services.ear/contentservices.war/WEB-INF/classes/alfresco/model and open the contentModel.xml file for editing.
  2. Locate the following line:
    <type name=”cm:content”>
  3. Set the index enabled and tokenized properties to false.
  • Change <index enabled=”true”> to <index enabled=”false”>.
  • Change <tokenized>true </tokenised> to <tokenized>false </tokenised>.

Disable the conversions required for indexing

To realize additional performance improvements, disable the conversions required for indexing. Follow these steps:

  1. In adobe-contentservices.ear, browse to contentservices.war\WEB-INF\classes\alfresco\extension.
  2. Preserve a backup of the custom-metadata-extractors-context file.
  3. Delete this file from the EAR.

Content Services ES2: Improving performance

Thumbnail image for livecycle.jpg

You can disable content indexing to improve Content Services ES2 performance. However, keep in mind that disabling indexing will also disable text-based search within new content. To disable indexing:
  1. In the adobe-contentservices.ear file, navigate to
    LiveCycle Content Services.ear/contentservices.war/WEB-INF/classes/alfresco/model and open the contentModel.xml file for editing.
  2. Locate the following line:
    <type name=”cm:content”>
  3. Set the index enabled and tokenized properties to false.
  • Change <index enabled=”true”> to <index enabled=”false”>.
  • Change <tokenized>true </tokenised> to <tokenized>false </tokenised>.
For additional performance improvements, you can disable the conversions required for indexing. To disable conversions:
  1. In adobe-contentservices.ear, browse to
    contentservices.war\WEB-INF\classes\alfresco\extension.
  2. Preserve a backup of the custom-metadata-extractors-context file.
  3. Delete this file from the EAR.

RoboHelp tips article in Indus

RH-icon.jpgNandini Gupta and I recently contributed an article on our favorite RoboHelp tips to Indus, the newsletter of the India chapter of STC. Check out the article here!

The May issue of Indus carried an article on my favorite FrameMaker tips. Check that one out here!

FrameMaker tips article in Indus

FrameMaker iconI recently contributed an article on my favorite FrameMaker tips to Indus, the newsletter of the India chapter of STC. Check out the article here!

Embed a TOC in a FrameMaker document

FrameMaker iconLet’s discuss an easy way to embed a file-level TOC in a FrameMaker document. We’ll generate a standalone TOC for the document and then import it by reference into the same document.

Here’s how:

  1. Open the FrameMaker document.
  2. Click Special > Table of Contents. When FrameMaker prompts if you want to create a standalone TOC, say Yes.
  3. In the Set Up Table of Contents dialog, select the paragraph tags that you want to include in the TOC. Click Set. FrameMaker creates a separate TOC file and stores it in the directory where your FrameMaker document is stored.
  4. Open the new TOC and format it as necessary. You may want to change the font styles/sizes for the TOC paragraphs and set tab stops/leaders.
  5. 1.jpg

  6. Now, open the parent FrameMaker document, place the cursor at the intended insertion point (usually the beginning of the file), and then click File > Import > File. Select the external TOC file and click Import.
  7. Retain the default settings in the Import Text Flow by Reference dialog box and click Import. FramaMaker imports the TOC by reference into the parent document.
  8. 2.jpg

Now, whenever you update the external TOC, simply select the embedded text inset in the parent document and click Update in the Text Inset Properties pod.

3.jpg

Here’s some further suggested reading: