Splitting a Project



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From time to time I am asked about splitting a large existing project into smaller chunks for merging. I haven't prepared detailed notes but here's the text of an email I prepared to help someone.


Splitting a Project

First it is vital that you understand how merged webhelp works before you attempt to split an existing project. You really do need to download the demo and understand the mechanics of it. If you don't do that first, it is like driving into an unlit tunnel without your car headlights off. You will crash.

Before you start and every step of the way, create backups of your work. If you do that, recovery from any mistakes is easy.

When I broke my project up I was starting with about 10,000 topics. I worked out a logical split of the topics which for this purpose we will say was General, Product A and Product B. Then I created three folders in the single project called General, Product A and Product B and reorganised all my folders and files so that the topics were under the right folders. Doing it this way means that RH amends all the links as it moves things around.

Later in the process there will be a lot of find and replace operations and it is important that they can find unique folder paths. So at this stage I prefixed many of my folders with a tilde ~ symbol as that is unlikely to occur otherwise.

Having done that you now create folders for the required number of child projects, three in this example. Copy the full project into three folders so that at this stage you have three folders each with a copy of the full project.

The next step is to delete from each child those topics that are not part of that child. When you delete the topics you will be prompted whether or not you want to remove references in other topics. DO NOT remove the references, you want the broken references as they are the evidence later that you have repaired those broken links. The index will pretty much sort itself out as it will delete references to topics that have been deleted. The TOC will need a sort out but again I would leave that at this stage.

You are now at the trickiest part of the operation, repairing the broken links. You may not have many but it is more likely that you will have lots. Here you need a good Find and Replace tool and certainly one that is better than that supplied with RoboHelp. Some people recommend BK ReplaceEm as it is free but I much prefer FAR (free for one month and then inexpensive). What you need to do is examine some of the broken links. You are looking at what the link is (which will be the relative path before this operation) and what it should be (what the relative path is now). That defines the Find and Replace. You have to be careful here. It is very easy to not only amend the links you mean to but also amend other links. Look to find something like "..\..\#path rather than ..\..\#path (not absence of quote mark) as the latter would also amend a link such as "..\..\..\#path because it would find that end of the string. This is one area where you must back up frequently as you can do several passes and get them right, then screw it all up in the next pass and undo a few hours work.

After each Find and Replace operation open RH and check that the broken links number is going down. You might have to open, close and open again, perhaps making a small change to one topic.

Gradually you will work through all the topics in a project until the broken links have been fixed. After that you turn to the TOC in that project and change that so that it only points to topics that are in that project. (Again a tidy up before you start will pay dividends here.)

Then work through the remaining child projects until everything has been cleared up.

Create the parent as described in the merged help topic and you are ready to generate your merged webhelp.


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Topic Revisions


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07 Feb 2017

Topic reviewed. No changes made.

14 Jun 2009

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