Thursday, April 26, 2007

Creating an Image Report with RoboHelp

When I discovered that my primary layot is On-Line Help, and therefore switched from writing with MS-Word to writing with RoboHelp, I have started to hide my screenshots.
Instead of presenting the reader a set of steps that span through several pages, I deliver a 10-rows-long text-only set of steps whose screenshots are hidden behind the text. Clicking a step reveals the screenshots and most of the readers are usually happy with that.
The problem within this arrangement is the way I maintain these screenshots. Ever so often I am required to update the On-Line Help to match the product's new GUI. In some of these cases, only the GUI changes, while the logic (the way the user uses the application) remains intact. Such a screenshot replacement should be a breeze. It is, indeed, very easy, given that I know where my screenshots are.
How do I know that?
Writing into MS-Word, I simply run through the pages, look at the shots and replace them on the spot. RoboHelp is less intuitive here (no such thing as run through the pages...) but it provides an Image Report.
Quickly bypassing the report's pitfalls (Selecting All Folders doesn’t recognize Conditional Build Tags; Selecting a parent folder results in an empty report) we come up with a list of all images per topic. Properly laying out the topics (i.e. one task sequence per topic), the images read task1-image1.gif, task1-image2.gif, etc.
(Blogger allows for a single picture per post, so no more images for you. Come back other day.)
Earlier this week I have copied such a report into an MS-Word file, along with tiny-little-hand-crafted screenshots icons. Too much work.
Generating the report on a daily basis throughout the project, should do.

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