Merging Multiple Help Systems in RoboHelp AIR Help Output

Monday, July 12 2010 @ 10:45 AM, By Praful Jain

Adobe AIR Help output (a.k.a. Adobe Help Viewer) is a new output format introduced in RoboHelp 8. One of the features of AIR Help which is relatively less known is merging multiple helps in a single AIR Help application. If you have installed Technical Communication Suite, or have Framemaker 9 and RoboHelp 8 installed on the same machine, and pressed F1, on those products, it launches Adobe Help Viewer 2, which has multiple product helps in a single AIR Help application. The same help application experience can be delivered using RoboHelp 8 AIR Help output, but it requires some additional steps like creation of multiple .RHA files, a xml configuration file with extension .helpcfg and other steps. Today in this blog, I would like to share simple steps to streamline this whole process, and make it a much simple affair.

Objective: At the end of reading this blog, you should be able to create a single AIR help file that has multiple help outputs, and that does not require copying/installation of any other .RHA file or .helpcfg file on the user machine.

To explain the process, let’s take the case of a company who want to have a single help output for its 2 products, with name Product 1, and Product 2.

As a technical author, you are assigned the task to author help for these products, and as expected you have already created 2 RoboHelp projects for both the products. Let’s follow some steps for the process now

  1. Go to RoboHelp Project1 for Product 1 and double click on AIR SSL output, Select Help Content Only Option, and provide the Help Title as Product1, modify settings if required, and Click Finish.
  2. Capture1.jpg

  3. Go to RoboHelp Project2 for Product 2 and double click on AIR SSL output, Select Help Content Only Option, and provide the Help Title as Product2, modify settings if required, and Click Finish.
  4. Capture2.jpg

  5. Now create a new RoboHelp Project with name FinalHelp, with single Topic in it. Right click in the Project Manager, and select New>Baggage file, and add the generated .RHA files from step 1 and step 2
  6. Create a new Helpcfg file with any name let’s say config.helpcfg on your desktop, open the file in notepad and paste the following information 

    <contents>
    <data label=”Product 1″ offlineurl=”Product1.rha” id=”product1″ />
    <data label=”Product 2″ offlineurl=”Product2.rha” id=”product2″ />
    </contents>

    Add this config.helpcfg file as baggage file to RoboHelp project FinalHelp.

  7. The added baggage files look like this in the FinalHelp Project.
  8. baggage.jpg

  9. Double click on AIR SSL output, and generate an AIR help application.  The generated AIR Help file contains both the RHA files and shows it correctly on installation.
  10. final1.jpg

Now some interesting points regarding helpcfg file.

  • You can manage the ordering of Product labels by using the id attribute in the .helpcfg file.
  • If you want to include icons along with product name in the combo-box, you need to do the following extra steps in the config.helpcfg file, paste the following content in helpcfg file

<contents>
<data label=”Product 1″ offlineurl=”Product1.rha” id=”product1″ icon=”Product1.png” />
<data label=”Product 2″ offlineurl=”Product2.rha” id=”product2″ icon=”Product2.png” />
</contents>

Also add the 2 icons files Product1.png and Product2.png in the FinalHelp project as baggage file. The Final Help is shown as, please see the Project Manager shown in the image, it contains all the baggage files required for this help output.

 Final output.jpg

Good thing is now you have one .air file which can be installed on any machine and any OS, and all the features (auto-update, CSH, Favorites, etc.) of Adobe AIR Help still remain intact.

Thanks
Praful Jain
Adobe RoboHelp Team

COMMENTS

  • By Rick Stone - 3:14 PM on July 30, 2010  

    Does this provide a merged functionality where a single TOC is presented spanning both projects? What about searching? Is one now able to search across multiple helpsets using this approach?

    • By Praful Jain - 2:21 PM on September 15, 2010  

      hi Rick, This does not provide a feature where in you have one TOC which is spanning across multiple project, that is Webhelp merging.
      When you go for searching. it will search the content of the specific project which is selected by the user from the product dropdown, so each product will have its own individual search. there is no merging of search across multiple projects

  • By Stan - 10:54 PM on November 9, 2010  

    doesn’t work. Nice try though

    • By Praful Jain - 3:49 AM on November 16, 2010  

      hi Stan,
      Can you please let us know if this procedure does not work for you?

  • By HylandWriter1 - 1:01 PM on July 20, 2011  

    Hi, Praful. I am also having trouble with this. I have a very large project and users have been needing to perform searches that are limited to only one “section.” This would be a great resolution if I can get it to work. The baggage files appear, but there is no content in the generated output. I also don’t understand how to produce a TOC that displays the baggage file topics.

  • By HylandWriter1 - 1:06 PM on July 20, 2011  

    Also – what do you mean by the “Product Dropdown?”

    • By Praful Jain - 6:23 AM on July 21, 2011  

      Please see the step 6 and there is an image attached, it shows a drop down in the top right corner

  • By Aslampk - 3:13 PM on July 12, 2012  

    THIS IS NOT WORKING

  • By GeoffDMA - 3:15 AM on February 21, 2013  

    Hi, I have recently upgraded a RH8 project that successfully used this feature to RH10. Now, text search does not work (Error: Failed to initialize database.) and embedded PDFs do not load. However, if I generate individual Air files for the separate projects, all is OK. Is this a known issue or are other changes required? Thanks in advance!

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