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How do I produce separate manuals from the main help file?

I'm writing a help file for our software product, which consists of several applications (or sub-products).

We have a HelpSmith help project that includes topics for all the included applications, but I also want to produce separate help files for each of the sub-products.

I read your manual on the conditional compilation capabilities (Build Tags), but cannot figure out how to extract portions from the main help project.

Can you please clarify the following questions:

  1. Do I need to create Build Tags for each of the application (sub-product)?
  2. Should I setup Build Tags for all the topics that I want to exclude in a help file generated for a specific application (sub-product).


How to use build tags to produce separate manuals

You can use Build Tags to produce different versions of your help file that will contain only a limited set of topics.

For example, you can try to use the following approach:

Step 1. Add custom Build Tags for each of your products at:

Project tab|Project Options|General|Build Tags

For example, you can add the Build Tags named: Product1, Product2, Product3, etc.

Step 2. Define the Build Options for all topics

By default, the topics are included to All Builds of your help file, so you should edit the Build Options of all the topics in your help project:

  1. In Project Manager, select one or multiple topics.
  2. On the Project tab, in the Topics & Templates group, click Properties.
  3. In the Properties dialog, click Build Options.
  4. In the Build Options dialog, select the Build Tags with which the selected topics will be included to the help file.
  5. Click OK.

Defining Build Options for selected topics

How to select multiple topics

Remark: In Project Manager, you can select multiple topics with the mouse, or by clicking on the topics while holding down the Ctrl key.

Editing Build Options of topics

Please note that for a specific topic, you can either select one Build Tag (e.g. Product1) only, or select several Build Tags (e.g. Product1 and Product2). Thus, you can control in which versions of your help file you want to include that topic.

Step 3. Compile the desired version of your help file

  1. On the Project tab, click Compile.
  2. In the Output Format box, select the help file format that you need.
  3. In the Compile Project dialog, in the Build Tags box, select the Build Tags that you want to apply to the given version of your help file.
  4. Click Compile.

Thus, on this step, you can select one or more build tags (e.g. Product1, Product2, Product3, etc.) that will include specific groups of topics to the compiled help file.


I would recommend that you first test this solution on a sample help project, such as "Getting Started", which you can find at:

File|Help|Sample Projects|Getting Started


Great, it works. Thanks for that easy solution!


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