Adobe RoboHelp 2015: Six Super Top Tips

Top Tips for RoboHelp 2015

In a previous blog I provided lesser known top tips for users of Adobe RoboHelp 11. They were described as “valuable hints learnt by technical writers who attend my Adobe RoboHelp training courses”. And now, back by popular demand, I can gladly offer a further six today! Most of these are new in Adobe RoboHelp (2015 Edition).

These aren’t the major product features, like Responsive HTML5 Output, which I’ve covered in a recent blog, but instead are a few slightly obscure hints and tips to aid efficient RoboHelp use.

1. Try the classic workspace.

Many people like the new ribbon to which Adobe has “upgraded” RoboHelp’s menus and toolbars.

For what it’s worth, I think the ribbon definitely has some productivity benefits but has some drawbacks also – try to find the equivalent of “Tools » Glossary Hotspot Wizard” or “Edit » Map IDs” on the ribbon! To complicate (or improve, if you prefer) matters, RoboHelp’s default workspace (layout of pods) is now notably different, i.e. the pods and panes are laid out differently, and both the Topic List pod and the Output View pod are tabs as part of the Topic Editor. Personally, I prefer the Topic List pod to be visible at all times and in a different size and shape to the Topic Editor.

The good news is that you can revert the workspace to RoboHelp 11’s default appearance, by selecting “Workspace » Classic” from the top-right menu. You can then adjust this layout to suit you, and save it with an appropriate name for you to reselect with a single click in the future. I know a few people who are relieved to find this out!

2. Make the most of the Quick Access Toolbar.

A feature that many people don’t take advantage of in MS Word is the Quick Access Toolbar – this is the little set of icons located in the top-left corner, just above the ribbon. It can provide you permanent one-click access to (just about) all your favourite RoboHelp features.

When using the ribbon, you may often need to switch to a different tab to access the item you want, and then sometimes click on a drop-down icon to reveal it. For example, to display the Paragraph dialog you may need three clicks (Edit tab, Paragraph Formatting, Paragraph), whereas you can add this option to the Quick Access toolbar to make it permanently available with just a single click. To edit the Quick Access Toolbar:

[a] Click on the down arrow at the right of the Quick Access Toolbar and select More Commands.

[b] Select Quick Access Toolbar on the left.

[c] Locate and select the command you want to add to the Quick Access Toolbar, using the drop-down option on the list shown, and click on Add ».

[d] Repeat this for all the commands you want to add, and change the order using the right-hand up/down arrows.

[e] Click on OK when you’ve finished editing.

3. Ctrl+click to open linked topics.

You probably have lots of hyperlinks embedded into your topics. Sometimes, when editing a topic there’s a hyperlink to another topic that you want to open in order to check (and often edit) its details.

Instead of having to locate that file in the ToC or Topic List to edit it, just point the cursor at the hyperlink, press and hold the Ctrl key and click the hyperlink. The destination topic is opened for editing. Simple.

4. Review topic links before deleting topics.

Some RoboHelp users accidentally get broken links in their projects because they delete a topic that has hyperlinks pointing to it. Good news is there’s a straightforward way to avoid this…

[a] Open up the topic you want to delete in the topic editor, right-click on it in the editor and select Show Topic Links. This displays the Link View tab showing an illustration of the hyperlinks coming into (on the left) and going out of (on the right) the selected topic.

[b] Right-click on any topic on the left and select Edit.

[c] Fix the hyperlink (e.g. delete it or point it to a different topic).

[d] Do this for each topic that has links to the topic you’re about to delete.

Once you’ve removed all the hyperlinks that point at the topic, you can delete it with confidence that you won’t create broken links.

5. Update styles to match inline formatting.

Styles are brilliant. Make sure you use them in your RoboHelp projects – and not just paragraph styles and character styles, but also hyperlink styles, list styles and table styles. They enable you to have consistency of appearance and efficiency of maintenance.

For many releases of RoboHelp there have been two ways of maintaining your RoboHelp project’s styles – using the Styles and Formatting pod (“Edit » Pods » Style and Formatting”) and the powerful Styles dialog (“Edit » Edit Stylesheet”).

But now, new in RoboHelp 2015, you can update a style to match the formatting of your current selection. So, you can set up a style called ‘NormalIndent’, for example, with a left-indent paragraph setting which you know you need to fine tune. You can now edit a single paragraph that uses this style to precisely adjust the indent, and once you have it just right, select the entire item (e.g. paragraph) and select “Edit » Update Style”.

6. Locate items fast.

If you have a large RoboHelp project, especially if you’ve inherited it from a colleague, there may be times when it’s hard to find where a particular item in the project is located – especially if the project has been set up with many sub-folders.

New in RoboHelp 2015 is a super-fast way of finding out the location of various items. Simply select the item, e.g. a topic or an image (you may want to use the Tag List to select it) in the topic editor, right-click on it and select Locate Item. RoboHelp opens the Project Manager pod and highlights the item – so you can see exactly where it is stored. Cool.

Bonus tip: To quickly locate this item in Windows File Explorer, right-click on the item in RoboHelp’s Project Manager pod, select Properties, and then on the File tab click on Open.

Conclusion

There you are… six more tips for RoboHelp users. Most of the features I’ve described are new in Adobe RoboHelp (2015 Edition). I hope at least one of them is of use to you.

Any comments – good or bad!? Or do you have any useful tips you want to share? If so, please leave a reply below.

Adobe RoboHelp 2015: Six Super Top Tips

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