Single Sourcing from FrameMaker to RoboHelp

Technical Communication,RoboHelp,FrameMaker,HAT,Help Authoring,Knowledge Base,Policies and Procedures

In Adobe Technical Communication Suite, FrameMaker files (.book, .mif and .fm) can be added as live links in RoboHelp (special version available only as part of the Suite). In this post, I will focus on the Add and Update functionality in this workflow.

Let’s say, you want to add a FrameMaker book with 50 chapters and a table of contents to RoboHelp. When you add the book as a reference, RoboHelp will allow you to import the FrameMaker Table of Contents, set pagination settings, map FrameMaker styles to RoboHelp styles and so on. During the add process, RoboHelp splits the FrameMaker document into smaller HTML files and places them in a special folder with the same name as the chapter name in FrameMaker (there are settings available for selecting the naming pattern for topics). Images are also placed in the same folder. For a book containing 50 chapters, you will have 50 folders each corresponding to the chapter in the FrameMaker book.

You can add multiple .fm files or multiple books as live links in a single project. RoboHelp also enables you to merge content you have in RoboHelp with the content linked from FrameMaker. Adobe RoboHelp 7 now supports multiple TOC, multiple indexes and multiple glossaries. This enables a powerful content aggregation workflow in RoboHelp. At the same time, you manage the content from FrameMaker files in a set of special folders, providing you the flexibility of continuously updating the content as you edit the files in FrameMaker.

To make the workflow smoother, RoboHelp provides a visual indicator of whether the content in RoboHelp is out of synchronization with FrameMaker content or not. The out of synchronization can happen because of two reasons – (1) content is modified in FrameMaker or (2) Import settings have been modified in RoboHelp or content is edited in RoboHelp. There are three options to update the content – Update, Update All and Force Update. Update is valid only for a selected FrameMaker file and will synchronize the content of that file. Update All will synchronize the content for all FrameMaker chapters or files which are out of sync. For example, if 10 of the 50 chapters are out of sync, only these 10 chapters will be updated. Force Update will re-import the whole book irrespective of which chapters are out of sync.

RoboHelp maintains books as books and organizes the content by chapters. If there is a change in the composition of the book, for example, a chapter is added. RoboHelp will show an out of sync indicator for the linked FrameMaker book. When you update the content, the new chapter will appear in RoboHelp with changes reflected in TOC, Index, Glossary, Conditional tags, variables etc. With Adobe Technical Communication Suite, you get all the powerful functionality which exists in RoboHelp along with an ability to manage content in FrameMaker.

Please let me know your comments and suggestions.