TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Our company maintains several software products, all of which can work
in conjunction with the "parent" product. However, some of those
products can also work on a standalone basis. Our dilemma is that when
these products work together, they share certain processes.
We want to be able to link each of the products together so you can find
help on a certain topic without having to go into the other product and
Our question is how we should structure our Help Files:
One Help/multiple .RTFs
Multiple Help files.
My vote is using multiple help project files (.hlp) that use multiple
.rtf files modularly.
I'm working on the on-line help for a product that can be installed in
individual components on different PCs. The old help project for this
product was one large file (.hlp) covering the entire product, which had
to be installed on every PC on which even just a component was installed.
Our new help (which had to be re-done anyway because the product has
functionally changed) is now modularized so each component has its own
The new help was singled-sourced from the revised documentation (THANK
YOU RoboHelp!), and each chapter made into its own help file (.rtf). The
help projects share the same overview, error index, and glossary .rtf
files. The links between projects are made possible through RoboHelp's
jumpID and popupID macros, and, except for the change in the name in the
titlebar of the running help project, the user doesn't even notice that
he has jumped to a different help project.
Now each component can be installed with its own .hlp file, without the
extra irrelevant help topics that confuse the user by referring to
components that aren't installed on that PC. And we can cross-reference
between project files for those items which are shared by some or all of
Kimberly K. (Heidt) Rosenlof
Technical Documentation Specialist
Honeywell Industrial Automation and Control
kim -dot- heidt -at- iac -dot- honeywell -dot- com