RoboHelp 8 - Searching

The WebHelp and FlashHelp search has been improved in a number of ways. These changes do not apply to CHMs as the search there is constrained by the Microsoft Help Compiler.

Search Ranking

Search results are now ranked.

The RoboHelp Development Team kindly posted this information on the forum explaining how the search is weighted. In order, it is based on the search word appearing in:

  • The topic title (as in Topic Properties and not to be confused with the Topic Heading)
  • The topic keywords (Increasing the frequency of a word as a keyword will not help as it will be considered only once.)
  • The topic headings in descending order so the word appearing in H1 will take precedence over the word appearing in H2
  • The body of the topic. Each occurrence of a word in topic is summed to calculate overall weighting of a word in a topic.

Topic content in the search results

The display of the search results now includes some of the topic content. A bit like Google and a nice feature. I just wish Adobe had given authors the option to display the search results in the topic pane as the new style needs more space.

Topic Keywords

Your topics contain the word "phone" but you know someone is going to search on "telephone".

Previously you would create a synonym and searching on "telephone" would find every instance of "phone". But what if you only wanted that to work in certain topics? There was no solution but there is with RoboHelp 8. You can enter a Topic Keyword in the topic properties and it will work in the same way as a synonym but only for that topic.

You can associate multiple topic keywords with a topic by separating them with space. The separator for topic keywords is a space.

Phrase searching

Just enter the phrase in quotes.

Substring searches

Provided the author enables it when generating the help, sub-strings can be searched. Enter Log and it will find Log, Catalog or Logarithm.

Multi language searches

If your topics contain text in any of the supported languages, the search will find them.

Search PDFs and Microsoft Office files

You can include links to a range of file types and RoboHelp 8 will then include their contents in the search. The file types are PDF, DOC, XLS, PPT. Create a link, add the file to baggage and that's it. If you want to exclude one of those file types, see Item 8 in Using RoboHelp 8.

Search highlighting

This has been extended to work with synonyms. Search for Car which has been set up as a synonym for Automobile and Automobile will be highlighted when the user goes to the topic.

Exclude from search

You can now exclude topics from the search by ticking a checkbox in Topic Properties.


Collectively this is all a big step forward and, for the majority of users, this will be a more than acceptable search needing nothing more.

If you need multiple searches or even more sophistication of what is or is not searched, take a look at the ZoomSearch article on my site.