Authoring - Grouping topics in a folder

A HelpServer topic is designed to hold one specific chunk of information. A topic is usually short (one or two pages). By keeping the topics short and to the point you enhance the reusability. However, a folder containing a large list of small topics is hard to read in the web browser.  Furthermore, when such a folder is printed, the table of contents can become rather extensive. To bypass this effect, you can group topics in a folder. The entire group is then shown and printed as one chunk.

In the example below we have recreated the 'Birds' book and we have added all the topics immediately in the book in stead of in individual chapters. To group (or chain) all the topics you pop up the menu of the topics in the tree and select 'Properties > Group'.

Grouping topics

You can also perform this in the table on the right since the 'Group' property is a reference property. The ‘Group’ property can also be specified in the topic class when the blueprints of the content structure in a project are defined.. Then new topics added to a folder have automatically the ‘Group’ property checked.

A vertical dark gray line in front of the description in the tree indicates a group of topics.

Grouped topics

Next is an enlarged image of the group indicator.


The group indicator

If you preview the 'Animals' folder and expand the 'Birds' book you only see the description of the first topic in the group. This description is in fact the description of the entire group. If you select it the content of all the topics in the group is shown in one chunk in the right pane.

Grouped topics previewed

In this example there are no more ungrouped topics left in the folder. In this case it would make more sense to auto select the first topic in the group and to hide its description.

Auto selecting the first topic of the group

If you then preview the folder and select or expand the book in the web browser it will look like this.

Grouped topics previewed

You can only group topics, you cannot include a folder in the group. The chain ends when a folder is encountered or when a topic is encountered with the ‘Group’ option unchecked. Also it does not make much sense to apply the 'Group' property to one single topic as we did for the 'Topic: About the condor' in the next example.

A folder with an unhappy group setup

In fact in this example we have only one group including the  'About the birds' and the 'About the eagle' topic.

A folder with an unhappy group setup previewed

But assume that you also want to group the 'About the falcon' and the 'About the condor' topics in a second group. This seems impossible because when the group property for 'About the falcon' is checked it will be included in the first group. So, how to achieve this?

If you want to define multiple groups of topics in a folder it is better to put all the topics of a group in one subfolder and to apply the 'Group' property to all the topics in the subfolder. Also, select the 'Auto select' and 'Hide description' of the first topic in the subfolders as demonstrated in the next image.

Creating multiple groups

The next image shows two nice looking groups previewed.

Multiple groups previewed


 About HelpServer
 Starting up and logging on
 The basic working principles
 Introducing the Workbench
 Adding a new project
 Creating the content structure with folders
 Adding the content in topics
 Previewing the result
 Changing the object description
 Adding new objects at a specific position in the folder
 Rearranging objects in a folder
 References to content objects
 Using the work modes
 The properties of a content object
 The properties of a reference to a content object
 Copying, cutting, and pasting
 The object status
 Searching for changed content
 Recovering unsaved changes
 Enabling and disabling a reference in a folder
 Auto selecting a topic in a folder
 Controlling the levels in the folder structure
 Grouping topics in a folder
 Your profile and Workbench preferences
 Using the content in help and documentation systems
 Formatting the content
 Searching and replacing text
 Reusing content with shares
 Navigating with hyperlinks
 Navigating with pointerpaths
 Using bookmarks and jumps
 Duplicating content with clones
 Using tables
 Including media files
 Navigating to web pages
 Using embedded chunks
 Including html code
 Navigating with menus
 Using snippets
 Spelling checking
 Using the view mode
 Creating an index
 Creating a FAQ
 Creating a glossary
 Team authoring
 Working with projects
 Setting up structured authoring
 Generating file based output
 Creating printed output
 Importing files and folders
 Loading files in the project gallery
 Converting legacy content
 Including legacy content in real time
 Transferring objects between installations
 Customizing the look and feel
 User accounts
 Working with templates
 Working with metadata
 Workflow management
 Using event exits
 Appendix A: The URL parameters
 Appendix B: The object indicators
 Appendix C: Play Javascript