Style Mapping in TCS 2 – RoboHelp Way or FrameMaker Way?

FrameMaker provides a Print authoring environment and is best suited for print and PDF publishing. However, RoboHelp provides an HTML authoring environment and is best suited for online publishing. The content in the two forms need to have different look and feel to suit the purposes of different mediums. Hence, there is a need to allow for swift and efficient conversion of look and feel of the content being imported from FrameMaker to RoboHelp.
Technical Communication Suite 2 provides two separate functionalities for achieving this easy conversion.

This blog discusses about which method is suitable for what purpose and for what type of authors.

When a FrameMaker document is linked/imported in RoboHelp, RoboHelp allows a user to specify the changes in the look and feel of the document. The look and feel of a document is mainly decided by the kind of styling it uses. RoboHelp allows a user to specify a RoboHelp style for each FrameMaker style by which the FrameMaker style will be replaced after importing the content.
For example, a user may have the following Heading 1 style defined in FrameMaker

Now he/she may want it to look like as follows in RoboHelp

In order to achieve this user needs to do the following steps

  1. Link the FrameMaker document in RoboHelp project.
  2. Goto File->Project Settings
  3. Goto “Import” tab of Project Settings dialog
  4. Click “Edit” button for conversion settings for FrameMaker documents
  5. Select “Heading 1” Style under “Paragraph” tree item on the left
  6. Select “Heading 1” from the “RoboHelp Style” drop down on the right.
  7. In case user wants to modify the look and feel of Heading 1 style, it can be edited in RoboHelp’s powerful style editor which can be invoked by clicking the “Edit Style” button
  8. Click OK on both the dialogs.

This specifies that Heading 1 style of FrameMaker should be replaced with Heading 1 style of CSS specified in RoboHelp. In this manner, all other styles can be mapped. This functionality not only covers Paragraph styles but also extends to character styles and table formats.
RoboHelp provides a predefined CSS called RHStyleMapping.css for this purpose. This CSS may be modified by the user. If the user has predefined CSS style, he/she can point RoboHelp to use the styles from the particular CSS. This can be done by selecting the CSS for style mapping in the Import tab of Project Settings dialog as marked in the screenshot above.

RoboHelp provides another approach for style mapping. Instead of going through CSS route, a user may create a template in FrameMaker having styles designed for online publishing. This template can then be specified in RoboHelp using “Apply FrameMaker Template before import” option in Project Settings dialog. Once this is done, RoboHelp applies the FrameMaker Template temporarily on linked documents at the time of conversion of FrameMaker content to RoboHelp content. The process of application of FrameMaker template on FrameMaker documents is similar to FrameMaker’s “Import Formats” functionality. Once FrameMaker template is defined in RoboHelp, the author need not map styles manually as described above.

The RoboHelp method operates around CSS editing. So, for users who are conversant with CSS authoring can leverage this functionality to design Online specific CSS styles to suite the Online published output requirements.
Users who find CSS authoring an overhead and are more comfortable working with FrameMaker’s style designer can skip the CSS editing and may opt for The FrameMaker method. He/she simply needs to author his/her styles in FrameMaker and use the particular document as a template in RoboHelp.
However, besides the comfort level for each method, there could be other reasons for which a user may want to choose a specific method. There are functionalities which are limited to a particular method and may not be available it the other method.
For example, RoboHelp provides a rich interface for designing advanced table patterns which is not possible in FrameMaker. On the other hand, FrameMaker provides autonumber functionality in Paragraph styles which is available in totally different form in RoboHelp.
Users who are good authors but are not comfortable in designing styles either way may use predefined CSS and/or template and can specify them in RoboHelp using RoboHelp’s Project Settings dialog.
Thus both the methods are useful for different purposes and for different users. It depends on an author to choose one of them as per the expertise and requirements as described. Advanced users may use the two methods simultaneously to take advantages of both the approaches.

Mayank Agrawal
RoboHelp Engineering Team