Multiple TOCs, Indexes and Glossaries

Multiple TOCs,Indexes and Glossaries,Adobe RoboHelp,HAT,Content Aggregation,Single Sourcing

Though, I had mentioned in my previous post that I would be talking about Translation Workflows, but then I realized that I need to first talk about a new Single Sourcing feature that we have built in Adobe RoboHelp 7 – Multiple TOCs, Indexes and Glossaries.

Now using RoboHelp 7, you can define multiple TOCs, Indexes and Glossaries in a single project. But why would you want to have multiple TOCs in a single project? You can do that for different audiences of the same project – say Standard user and Advanced users or for different output types – say print and Web output or Help for two different flavors of a Project – Basic, Standard, and Professional or for supporting different languages say – English, French, German and Japanese. For achieving single souring in true sense, you need to have multiple TOCs, Indexes and Glossaries.

Since there can be multiple TOCs, Indexes and Glossaries in a single RoboHelp project, we need a mechanism to manage the same. And for this very reason, there is a change in the way TOCs are handled in RoboHelp 7. We have moved all the management to Project Manager. So in case you want to define a new TOC or edit an existing TOC or delete a TOC, you will have to go to the Project Manager and access Multiple Table of Contents folder. Indexes and Glossaries are also managed through Project Manager.

Apart from this, as you are already aware, Adobe RoboHelp 7 supports Multiple Document Interface (MDI), so it allows you to open up multiple TOCs and work across them – copy paste items from one TOC to another etc. This is how the multiple TOCs look like when you open them up in RoboHelp 7.


One important thing to note is that there is a default TOC in every project. The Default as the name signifies is the TOC used when you do not specify a TOC while generating a SSL. You have the ability to use any of the defined TOCs when you generate a SSL.

As you see in the above snapshot, most of the times there is a big overlap in the TOCs. As you see in the snapshot above, there are two TOCs – one for Customer Care executives and one for Mortgage Specialist executives. Since, the knowledge bases for the Mortgage Specialist executives is always a super set of the knowledge base for basic Customer Care executives (As depicted in the snapshot above), if you make a change in the Customer Care TOC, you will be forced to redo the changes in the Mortgage Specialist TOC. RoboHelp 7 provides a yet another Single Sourcing featuring called Place Holder TOC in the new TOC Editor. To achieve single sourcing what we can do is remove the first three folders in the Mortgage Specialist TOC (the ones that correspond to Customer Care TOC) and instead add a TOC Place Holder for Customer Care TOC as shown in the snapshot below.

Now when you generate a SSL using the Mortgage Specialist TOC, the Customer Care TOC Place Holder will get replaced by the actual contents of TOC at the time of generation. You can view TOC Place Holder as a kind of a reference to another TOC that will be picked at the time to final generation.

I hope I made some sense in the above explanation. We can also use TOC Place Holder for aggregating content defined across multiple TOCs. Let’s discuss how we can achieve the same. Suppose there are two authors working on the same Knowledge base – one is responsible for general Customer Care Knowledge base, however the other one is concerned just about the stuff that relates to Mortgage Specialist executives. The goal is t to generate a single master knowledge base which will contain all the topics defined in the RoboHelp project.

To achieve this, what we can do is, ask the first author to work on the Default TOC, i.e. Customer Care and ask the other author to define a new TOC, say Mortgage Specialist. However, this time we will ask him to just add the Mortgage Specialist related stuff to this TOC. Probably the TOC’s will look something like this:


Now for aggregating the two TOCs, you can either define a third TOC with two Place Holders (one for Customer Care and the other one for Mortgage Specialist) or you can add a Place Holder in Customer Care TOC that references to the Mortgage Specialist. The first approach is generally useful when you have a number of TOC Place Holders. So we shall follow the second approach in the demo below:

All the above examples are shown using the Customer Care Sample Project that we ship with Adobe RoboHelp 7. Index and Glossary have similar features and are implemented in the same fashion in Adobe RoboHelp 7. It’s now your turn to start playing with these Single Sourcing features and to see how best you can make use of the same in your real life projects.

I know I have exceeded the limit that an ideal blog post should be but it would be incomplete if I do not mention that RoboHelp 7 also allows you to add User Defined Variables in TOC entries and lets usage of Conditional Build Tags to TOC items (Books, topics etc). All these features put together result in most powerful Single Sourcing capabilities that no other HAT provides at this moment.

So to summarize:

  1. Create as many multiple TOCs, Indexes and Glossaries as you like. They can be given unique names to help manage them.
  2. Copy/Paste editing works across multiple TOC/Index/Glossary.
  3. Aggregate multiple TOCs, Indexes using the Place Holder feature.
  4. Use User Defined Variables while defining the TOC items.
  5. Apply Conditional Build tags on TOC items.
  6. At time of publishing, your custom TOC/Index/Glossary can be chosen on the fly.
  7. Translation workflows are enhanced because you can have a separate TOC/Index/Glossary for each language.
  8. RoboSource Control integration is enabled.

You guessed it correctly, we are now set to talk about Translation Workflows and I shall do that in my next post.