RoboHelp 9 - TOC Based Publishing

Many times I have seen people post on the RoboHelp forums that searching is returning topics that are not in the table of contents. Err, yes, that's the way it has always worked and for good reason. Take one of my projects as an example, it has 12,000 topics - can you imagine what the TOC would be like if I had to include a topic in the TOC to get it generated? The TOC only needs to include key topics, not every last one. That said, I can see there are times you only want to publish what is in the TOC, such as when you want a small output for a special purpose.

Adobe RoboHelp 9 provides what was initially referred to as TOC only generation. The initial thinking was that only what was in the TOC would be published but there was a wrinkle in that, potentially broken links to topics not in the TOC. What TOC based generation gives is just the TOC topics plus any topics that have links to them. In turn, if those topics have further links, those target topics will be included. It's a cascading effect.

How it works is quite simple. In the help generation layouts you select the TOC that you want to be used. Then you tick the Exclude Unreferenced Topics from Output checkbox. When the help is generated, only the topics in the TOC will be included plus any topics with linked to.

When the help is generated, baggage files will be included but if they are not in the TOC and not referenced in any topic, the only other way to find them would be by searching. There is a further checkbox to exclude any unreferenced baggage files from the search, except when generating a CHM

You may need to use a different Index too as any topics indexed will be included.

Opinion

A useful feature but with the potential for it to include many more topics than required. What I would like to see is a further option to strictly limit the output to those topics. To handle the broken links it would be nice if the author could specify their own Page Not Found topic where they could explain why this has occurred.

The author can, of course, look for the links that will break and apply a build tag to exclude them. Some alternative text would be required and that would also need to be tagged for exclusion in other outputs.

In some cases there is a need for real TOC Only generation and that should be an option, with the onus being on the author to make sure the help created is fit for purpose. It may be for some special purpose where a few broken links are perfectly acceptable.