Frustrating/annoying disappearing changes trick (long)

Subject: Frustrating/annoying disappearing changes trick (long)
From: sfisher Stephen Fisher <sfisher -at- Macola -dot- com>
To: "'TECHWR-L'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 22 Oct 1999 14:26:19 -0400

To (primarily) all RoboHELP/Word 97 users:

Has anyone experienced problems like these? Does anyone have suggestions?

(The problems we are having sound impossible (at least highly improbable),
three writers in our group have had problems with this, and recently, we
resorted to documenting what we change in help files trying to verify and
isolate the problem.)

Lately we have noticed that when we make changes to a document that is part
of a help project, save the document, close it, and then open it sometime
later, not all of the changes made earlier are in the document. Examples we
have seen are spelling corrections made using the Word 97 spell checker not
being saved, and changes made to text in topics not being saved. As you can
imagine, this is quite a problem because we are having to make the same
changes more than once to each document, and if we miss double-checking our
documents (naively believing that selecting File|Save or clicking the Save
(as RTF) button actually saves our changes) we risk releasing help files
with spelling errors or old or inaccurate information.

What makes this even odder, this is a random problem. Not all help authors
are experiencing this problem. Problems do not occur in every document or
every day. The type of changes that do not get saved are not always the
same. And the number of changes that do not get saved vary with each
occurrence. For example, a help author may make 10 changes in 10 difference
topics and save the document. The next time he or she opens the document,
maybe one to five of the changes will not be in the document (or maybe all
of the changes will be in the document).

Info about the help projects and help files:

These are ongoing help projects. We release help files with each software
release (typically once or twice a year), and then continue maintaining or
changing the help project as the software changes. Each help project has
between 200 and 500 topics with links to external help files.

Here are some practices we follow with our help projects:

* We use multiple documents
* We keep the number of topics in each document below the 100 topic limit
recommended by Blue-Sky
* Each help author keeps only one copy of each help project on his or her
hard drive (so there are no mix-ups)
* We copy our help projects to a network nightly for a backup
* We do _not_ copy projects from the network to our hard drives except in
emergency or file recovery
* We open each help project locally (on a hard drive), never on the network
* We run RoboHELP and Word locally (on a hard drive), never on the network
* Our help projects contain very few graphics, and the ones we use are from
RoboHELP's graphics library
* Only one help author works on each project

Here is what we have tried and have in place to solve or troubleshoot the

* Saving the document after each change
* Compiling after making changes to a topic
* We use a commercial antivirus software and keep it updated routinely
* We have verified that our Word documents are not set to read-only
* We have verified that we are not opening an old or previous version of the
documents (we keep only the "live" help project locally)
* We are _not_ using Word 97's versioning feature
* We are _not_ using Word 97's create backup copy, fast saves, background
saves, or save autorecover features
* We are _not_ using the track changes feature

Help Authoring Environment:

RoboHELP Classic v7.0 (upgrade from v5.5)
MS Word 97 with SR-2
PC is a 400mHz, Pentium II with 128 mb RAM

This message has been (or soon will be) posted to...

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Stephen Fisher
Macola Documentation Group
"Of making many books there is no end..."
-King Solomon

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