[Guest Post] “Explore TCS4, RoboHelp, Linking to Content Versus Copying”, by Kevin Siegel

In this guest blog, Certified Adobe Expert and Trainer, Kevin Siegel of ICONLOGIC, covers a powerful technique when publishing from FrameMaker through RoboHelp via Tech Comm Suite 4 (TCS4). In this blog, Kevin touches on many principles he shared in one episode of his 3-part webinar series, “2) Explore TCS4: FrameMaker to RoboHelp to eBook … Oh My!


TCS4, Adobe RoboHelp: Linking to Content Versus Copying

When it comes to adding content to a RoboHelp project, Help authors basically have two choices: the content can be typed directly within a RoboHelp topic; or existing content can be imported. If you elect to import the content, you can select from several types of documents including HTML/XHTML files, PDFs, Microsoft Word documents, Adobe FrameMaker documents and more.

When you import HTML files or PDFs, the content is automatically copied into the RoboHelp project. At that point you, as the Help author, own the content. Any changes you make to the content post-import have no effect on the original content. Changes made to the original content have no effect on the copied content contained within your RoboHelp project.

Working with Microsoft Word and Adobe FrameMaker content is different. You can elect to copy the content into RoboHelp just like HTML or PDF content, or you can link to the content.

As I mentioned above, if you copy the content into RoboHelp, there is no longer any communication between RoboHelp and the source content. However, if you link the content into RoboHelp, changes made to the source content can be shown in the RoboHelp project. Linking is a wonderful option if the content you are using in RoboHelp is a moving target that is likely to be updated frequently by someone on your team.

To create a link to Word or FrameMaker content, right-click the Project Files folder on the Project Manager pod, choose Link and then choose either Word Document or FrameMaker document. (You must have either Microsoft Word or Adobe FrameMaker installed on your computer to create the link.)


A reference to the linked document will appear in the Project Files folder. To create HTML content from the linked document, right-click the reference to the document and choose Update > Generate. At this point, topics will be created based on the editing options you make via File > Project Settings > Import. (You would select a CSS for Style Mapping, click the Edit button for either Word or FrameMaker and map the source styles to RoboHelp styles.)


The big challenge for Help authors once content is linked into a RoboHelp project is having the discipline not to edit the content within RoboHelp. Since the content is linked back to a source, edits should be made in the source document.

In the image below, I’ve created a link to a FrameMaker document and then generated the content into RoboHelp topics. The icon to the left of the FrameMaker reference is green, an indication that all is well and that the RoboHelp content is in synch with the FrameMaker content.


Here’s where it gets cool. At some point, changes are made to the FrameMaker content (perhaps by a subject matter expert) without my knowledge. In the image below, notice that the FrameMaker reference in RoboHelp sports a yellow alert icon. This simple alert icon is an indication that I do not have the latest FrameMaker content.


All I need to do at this point is right-click the FrameMaker icon and choose Update > Update. Within seconds, updated FrameMaker content appears in my RoboHelp project. No muss. No fuss.

I use the FrameMaker to RoboHelp workflow on a daily basis when I convert my books to ePUBs. Give it a shot and I think you’ll be delighted how easy it is to not only author in one tool and reuse the content in another, but also keep the content up-to-date from one single source.