Tables converted from RoboHelp X5--too "narrow"

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Tables converted from RoboHelp X5--too "narrow"

Postby Centauri27 on Thu Apr 17, 2008 1:59 pm

I imported a sample project from RoboHelp X5 into Flare 3.1. Everything seemed to come over properly, however all the tables in the converted topics look "squished" in the editor, though they preview and compile normally. By "squished" I mean visually the table is displayed as a long and narrow "snake", with each column appearing to be about 1" in width (visually onscreen). In RH, the table columns are all 30/70 proportion, and Flare's table properties shows that these proportions have been maintained. However the distorted view of the column widths make the tables very difficult to edit.

If I use the table column structure bar to "Reset Width" on both columns, the columns are resized back to fill the editor width, but I lose my 30/70 split. If I change only the first column to 30% and leave the second on auto, the columns resize, but not to 30/70. Same thing if I leave the first column on auto and change the second to 70%. If I manually enter a 30/70 split, the table goes long and snaky again.

I've also tried going into table properties and fiddling with the Autofit settings, but I usually end up getting some cryptic error message--"Failed to run command 'Table Properties...'. Exception: Object reference not set to an instance of an object."

So...have I hit a bug or a limitation to Flare's RoboHelp import functionality?

Any ideas?

Thanks.
Carl Lum
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Re: Tables converted from RoboHelp X5--too "narrow"

Postby KevinDAmery on Fri Apr 18, 2008 5:37 am

Hi, Carl - welcome to the forums.

There may be some legacy code from RH that's confusing matters. What I would do is open one of the topics with the problem in the internal text editor and see what code there is in the <table> tag. If there's anything that isn't either standard HTML / CSS code or prefixed by the letters mc (which indicates it's Madcap code), I'd remove it.
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Re: Tables converted from RoboHelp X5--too "narrow"

Postby Centauri27 on Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:41 am

Thanks for the tip, Kevin. I took a look at the code and the only thing out of the ordinary that I could see is that there are mysterious "+" signs appended to my HTML code--for example, it shows "<table+>", "<tr+>", and "<td+>" instead of the normal "<table>", "<tr>", and "<td>". Do you suppose this is what's tripping up Flare?

As I look some more, I notice that many other standard tags have the mysterious plus signs added to them-- <p+>, <ol+>, etc. I have confirmed that there is not a single "+" character in the original RoboHelp TrueCode for the topic, so this appears to be an artifact of the Flare conversion.

Any other ideas?

Thanks.
Carl
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Re: Tables converted from RoboHelp X5--too "narrow"

Postby Centauri27 on Mon Apr 21, 2008 1:29 pm

Whoops...I just discovered that the "+" signs are actually toggles to show/hide subordinate content. A bit confusing initially, but very neat. But it is easy to get lost within the code after toggling and untoggling the various bits.

I think I'll just chalk this up as a conversion glitch--I'm already more than pleased at how well the RH import feature works. Unless someone comes up with an easier idea, I'll use the workaround of setting the first column to "30%" and leave the second as "Auto". I have to eyeball every topic after conversion anyway. This is easier than spelunking through the HTML of all my tables...

Carl
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Re: Tables converted from RoboHelp X5--too "narrow"

Postby KevinDAmery on Mon Apr 21, 2008 1:35 pm

Actually, if you're seeing plus signs, you're not in the right place. The plus signs are in "code view" in the XML editor. IMO, "code view" is, at best, an unfinished part of Flare, because a) you can't change the code there, and b) it doesn't show everything.

What you really want to do is right click on the topic in the Content Explorer and choose Open With > Internal Text Editor. That will show you what your code really contains.
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Re: Tables converted from RoboHelp X5--too "narrow"

Postby Centauri27 on Mon Apr 21, 2008 3:58 pm

Ah...thanks for the tip, Kevin. So now I must go from a "half baked" feature in Flare to one that is more complete, but admittedly the weakest part of Flare--your XML code editor. I've read about the unusability of this editor and the critics were right. The RoboHelp TrueCode editor is indeed far superior to Flare's in this respect.

I am somewhat surprised that no one else has chimed in with "Yeah--that's happening to me too!" Maybe very few RH users use tables. Or it hasn't happened to anyone else (kind of hard to believe). But I have hundreds of tables across my projects and this glitch could have been a showstopper if it weren't for the easy workaround.

Carl
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Re: Tables converted from RoboHelp X5--too "narrow"

Postby wclass on Mon Apr 21, 2008 5:59 pm

I can chime in but not be very helpful. We imported many RH version X5 projects into Flare, with hundreds of tables, with no major problems. (our column widths were 20/80%, not 30/70 :-))

I had a quick look at the code - the RH topics had the column measurements at the table level AND in each <td> line as well. When we imported, we did some global find/replace, and removed the inline measurements from the td lines to clean up our code, but the widths had looked OK. Do you have any merged table cells - I've never had much success with that.
Margaret Hassall - Melbourne
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Re: Tables converted from RoboHelp X5--too "narrow"

Postby KevinDAmery on Tue Apr 22, 2008 7:39 am

Centauri27 wrote:Ah...thanks for the tip, Kevin. So now I must go from a "half baked" feature in Flare to one that is more complete, but admittedly the weakest part of Flare--your XML code editor.


For the record, it's not mine--I'm an MVP, not a Madcap employee.

I've read about the unusability of this editor and the critics were right. The RoboHelp TrueCode editor is indeed far superior to Flare's in this respect.


You're preaching to the choir, Carl--this has been one of my longstanding gripes. What you can do, though, is associate another text editor with the file types that Flare works with. There are a number of good text editors out there that have colour coding etc. (Edit+, TextPad, Crimson Editor... pick the one you like best.) All you have to do is use Windows Explorer to associate files with a particular extension (.htm for topics, .flsnp for snippets, etc.) with the text editor of your choice. Once you do that, that text editor will be an option in Flare's Open With menu.

The only drawback to this approach is, if Flare has the file open at the same time as you make a change in an external editor, it can get confused. So if you go this route make sure you close the topic in Flare before you make a change externally.

Oh, and make sure you request a real text editor for Flare - the more people complain, the more seriously Madcap takes an issue.

https://www.madcapsoftware.com/bugs/submit.aspx
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Re: Tables converted from RoboHelp X5--too "narrow"

Postby Centauri27 on Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:22 am

wclass wrote:I had a quick look at the code - the RH topics had the column measurements at the table level AND in each <td> line as well. When we imported, we did some global find/replace, and removed the inline measurements from the td lines to clean up our code, but the widths had looked OK.


I took a look at my RH code and I see the same thing: column measurements at both the table and row levels. However, removing the measurements from each <td> line did not change how the table appears during editing--it's still long and narrow. Interestingly, when I used my workaround of resetting one of the columns to "auto width", this had no discernable effect on the underlying code. The HTML code looked the same when compared side-by-side.

Do you have any merged table cells - I've never had much success with that.


No, there are no merged table cells (at least in the sample topics I tried). I can see how the more complex coding for merged cells could flummox the Flare importer.

I think I'll stick with my workaround of manually resetting one of the columns for each table. Thanks anyway for your suggestions, Margaret.

Cheers.
Carl
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