Merging Multiple Help Systems in RoboHelp AIR Help Output

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. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. <contents>
    <data label=”Product 1″ offlineurl=”Product1.rha” id=”product1″ />
    <data label=”Product 2″ offlineurl=”Product2.rha” id=”product2″ />
  6. 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. 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.

Now some interesting points regarding helpcfg file.

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

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.

Praful Jain
Adobe RoboHelp Team