Automatic FTP of web help

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Automatic FTP of web help

Unread postby Dan Rosen » Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:13 pm

Is there any way to automatically publish changes to a web help site to our webserver? Currently after publishing the site to a local hard drive we manually FTP (using Filezilla) the content to our website. Would be nice if this process could be automated.

Thanks, Dan
Dan Rosen
 
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Re: Automatic FTP of web help

Unread postby Tim Green » Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:43 pm

Hi Dan,

Help+Manual doesn't have an FTP function at the moment, but we may add one in a future version.

Note that uploading "only changed files in your WebHelp" is not quite as straightforward as you might think. Some FTP programs try to be "smart", by only uploading files that have changed. They identify this by the time and date stamps of the files, but this will not work properly with Help & Manual Webhelp output under some circumstances.

First of all, you always need to upload all the Zoom web search files, because those will all change on every publish.

When there are changes in H&M templates without changing your topics, the topic timestamp does not change, although its content does. This is because the topic timestamp is only changed when you actually edit the topic itself. This is necessary for a number of technical reasons, primarily for synchronizing old and new projects with the Project Synchronizer tool. (Actually, in the current version of Help & Manual you can also configure it to reset all timestamps to the compile time, in Project Explorer > Configuration > Publishing Options > WebHelp > HTML Export Options.)

This means that if you make any changes to your templates or your project settings it is always best to re-upload everything, because most FTP programs only compare file timestamps. Some compare file sizes, but that is also not reliable, because it's quite possible for subtle setting changes to leave the file size identical. Also, web server operating systems frequently calculate file sizes differently, so the sizes stored on the server often don't match your local versions anyway. There are some FTP programs that do content comparisons to see if there have been changes in the files but this doesn't provide time or bandwidth benefits because all the files on the server need to be downloaded for the comparison. This is actually much slower and uses much more bandwidth than uploading everything fresh.

The other alternative is to use an FTP program that supports comparing the archive bits of your files. You can set Help & Manual to set/reset this for your topic files when they have any changes (including template-related changes) in Project Explorer > Publishing Options > Webhelp > HTML Export Options. Then you can use an archive-bit-aware FTP program like Second Copy (http://www.secondcopy.com/), which supports archive bit transfers and is also an excellent auto-backup program for general use.
Regards,
Tim (EC Software Documentation & User Support)

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Re: Automatic FTP of web help

Unread postby Dan Rosen » Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:03 pm

Hi Tim,

Thanks for the, as usual, quick response. I'll check out second copy, that might do the trick. Internally we use Beyond Compare to manage source code comparisons, and I vaguely remembered that it had an FTP sync capability as well. Tried it out comparing a locally published folder with our FTP site and it seems to work well for my purposes.

I still think a built-in FTP would be useful. Or, any thoughts on adding a post-publishing event that will launch an external process?

.. Dan
Dan Rosen
 
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:26 pm

Re: Automatic FTP of web help

Unread postby Tim Green » Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:01 pm

Dan Rosen wrote:I still think a built-in FTP would be useful. Or, any thoughts on adding a post-publishing event that will launch an external process

If you have an FTP program with a command line interface you can create a publishing task in the Publishing Task Manager and add your FTP batch file to be executed after it has completed. See this chapter on setting this up:

http://www.helpandmanual.com/help/index ... _tasks.htm

Help+Manual itself also has a full command line publishing interface with proper exit codes if you prefer to use that:

http://www.helpandmanual.com/help/index ... ndline.htm
Regards,
Tim (EC Software Documentation & User Support)

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