RoboHelp 8 - Lists

HTML does not support outline numbering but RoboHelp 8 does! Great news for the engineers and lawyers out there.

Also changed in RoboHelp 8 is the way styles are used in ordinary ordered and unordered lists (numbered lists and bulleted lists).

Outline Numbering

Click the new multilevel numbering icon to display the dialog.

The first step is to select one of the many supplied formats.

For this purpose, I have selected MultiNumber.

Then I added some text as below.

  1. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text.

  2. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text.

  3. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text.

Then I used the Indent icon and indented the second and third paragraphs. You can do that as you type.

  1. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text.
    1. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text.
      1. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text. This is some sample text.

RoboHelp automatically applied the outline numbering.

Project Backups

The way this new feature works makes it more important than ever to back up your source projects.

In the output, the HTML for the outline numbering will be as if you had typed the characters; HTML does not support outline numbering via tags. No software company can change that although I believe the W3C organisation are working on it for a future standard. However, until W3C do change things, there is no option for companies like Adobe but to implement their own solutions.

The HTML in your source topic contains what is needed to make it work, the output HTML is converted to comply with standards. This way you have source code that gives you what you need when authoring and compliant code in your output.

Of course they are different, they have to be. It does mean though that if you lose your source project, then the old ways of cleaning up an output file to make it work in the source will not have the necessary information.

Sometimes forum posts indicate that people believe that source and output code should be the same. That is not correct and it is true of other help authoring tools. Without the additional code you would not have conditional build tags and suchlike. This is permitted by W3C and these pieces of code are known as Processing Instructions. See http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-xml/#sec-pi

What it does mean is that you must ensure you have backups. It is not a downside of this new feature, it should be something you are doing anyway.

Ordered and Unordered Lists

RoboHelp has historically made things easier for the average user when they create a list. If you were working in a paragraph with Normal selected, when you clicked the list icons, the text was in the same style as defined for Normal, if you were working in YourStyle, the list would be YourStyle plus numbers or bullets. It was based on how Word works and made life easier for many.

Now Adobe have converted to the way things work in Dreamweaver, which is an industry standard HTML editor, and the way things work in most HTML editors. When you start a list, it is no longer defined by the previous paragraph's style definition. Instead you have two options:

  1. The purist way, which is to define the style within the HTML <OL> <UL> and <LI> tags. That way as soon as you click the icons, those definitions will be applied.
  2. Simply select the list and then select the Normal style or YourStyle.

It is not a bug, just a different way of working.

Opinion

I had a few problems when setting up a multi-level list but I did get it working in what seemed to be a reliable way. I have seen a number of people report problems with these lists and indicate they have created bug reports.

Where I encountered some problems was with printed documentation. I have illustrated these in a RoboHelp 8 project that you can download from here.

Update

Since creating that project, I have noted that if I generate this help as a printed document, an extra space gets added at the beginning of the text in each list item!