Writing a Plant Operating Manual

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Writing a Plant Operating Manual

Unread postby Riccardo Schiavone » Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:36 pm

Hi,
I have to write a manual for a Water Treatment Plant.
The manual will basically be a huge collection of pdfs, for example instrument data sheets, PLC manuals, motor manuals, equipment manuals, etc.
I will barely have to write anything.

Since the client will also require a pdf version of the whole manual, I was wondering how Help&Manual behaves with "nested" pdfs.
I would need, under the main pdf, subsections that could actually explode to the detail manual of each instrument, equipment, etc.

Is this software able to do that?
I couldn't find anything in the help section about it.

Thanks
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Re: Writing a Plant Operating Manual

Unread postby Tim Green » Mon Apr 30, 2018 1:59 pm

Hi Riccardo,

Sorry, but Help+Manual doesn't handle PDFs like this directly. You can use the modular projects feature to create a modular project as you describe with a master project, in which you insert your individual sub-projects in the TOC. However, if you publish that as a PDF you will get one very large PDF, in which all the projects are merged together. See here for information on modular projects:

https://helpandmanual.com/help/index.ht ... odular.htm

The real question here is why you want to do this with PDF, which is generally not a good format for any kind of interactive access. It is also the worst possible format for online access, because before your users could read any single topic they would need to download the entire PDF for the related project, since each PDF is essentially a single long page. If you create a modular project as described above and publish it as WebHelp for viewing in a web browser it is very much superior to PDF. When users view it online their browser only needs to load the pages they are actually reading, and WebHelp is ideally suited for the kind of linked, non-linear viewing that is typical when reading documentation.

Despite having some interactive features, PDF is only really suitable for two things: Providing a printable version, because it has much better printing capabilities than any other format; and for texts that people are going to read in a linear fashion from beginning to end.
Regards,
Tim (EC Software Documentation & User Support)

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Re: Writing a Plant Operating Manual

Unread postby Martin Wynne » Mon Apr 30, 2018 7:47 pm

Riccardo Schiavone wrote:The manual will basically be a huge collection of pdfs

Hi Riccardo,

How many is a "huge collection"?

Most desktop publishing programs and some PDF readers will open a PDF and export each page as an image. You could then include them in an H&M topic as a sequence of images, and publish the whole thing as Webhelp and/or as a single PDF.

For data sheets and technical manuals, if you select 8-bit PNG format it is very likely that the image files will be quite small, possibly smaller in total than the original PDF. Here for example this page is only 64KB, exported from PagePlus DTP:

data_sheet_ex_pdf.png

But it does mean processing each input PDF file. If the collection is large, you could maybe automate the process with a script or macro.

You would get the option to add some additional text and/or links above/below/between the page images, which wouldn't be possible if a PDF was simply nested in the topic.

cheers,

Martin.
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Re: Writing a Plant Operating Manual

Unread postby Riccardo Schiavone » Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:23 pm

The manual in pdf is a requirement of the customer.
I am fully aware that they will basically never use the pdf, but I cannot avoid it.

I cannot convert pdfs into png.
Some equipments have 500-600 pages pdf manuals.

In total, I am looking at something like 5000+ pages of manuals.

I don't have a problem with having one single huge pdf.
As long as all the single pdfs are printed and the header is common and it is professionally looking.

Thanks

Regards
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Re: Writing a Plant Operating Manual

Unread postby Simon_Dismore » Mon Apr 30, 2018 11:31 pm

Riccardo Schiavone wrote:I cannot convert pdfs into png. Some equipments have 500-600 pages pdf manuals.

To convert a PDF to png images:
  1. Open document in Acrobat Pro DC
  2. Navigate Tools > Export PDF
  3. Select Image : PNG
  4. Click Export
  5. Accept or amend the proposed folder
    All the pages will be exported as <filename>_Page_<nnn>.png
I've just checked this with a 291 page PDF and it seems to be OK, but I agree with Tim and Martin that in the long term it would be better to re-create a page-based source. You could begin this by exporting from the PDF to HTML, and then importing that to Help & Manual. But that's pointless if your client doesn't need any changes to the content and is already committed to the pre-existing PDF versions.
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Re: Writing a Plant Operating Manual

Unread postby Tim Green » Wed May 02, 2018 7:07 am

Hi Riccardo,

I don't have a problem with having one single huge pdf.
As long as all the single pdfs are printed and the header is common and it is professionally looking.

Then your best solution is to use modular projects. You create a separate project for what would normally be each individual sub-PDF. That gives you much more flexibility than having them in one huge PDF. Then you create a master project for publishing and insert references to the individual projects in the table of contents. Those projects remain independent; you are just inserting references in the TOC. When you publish, however, they are treated as part of the main project, effectively becoming "chapters" in that project.

See this chapter in the help for full details:

https://helpandmanual.com/help/index.ht ... odular.htm

If you're ever going to publish other output formats, it's very important to avoid topic ID conflicts between your sub-projects:

https://helpandmanual.com/help/index.ht ... ar_ids.htm

I would recommend setting up a dummy system with a master and a couple of demo sub-projects and your own customized PDF template to show your client to get approval and feedback before going all-in on it.
Regards,
Tim (EC Software Documentation & User Support)

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