User Defined Variables have been a RoboHelp staple for a few years now. You were first introduced to variables in this 2009 IconLogic blog post. As a review, variables are placeholders for text that you need to use throughout a RoboHelp project (e.g.: a product name). You might be using the product name thousands of times within hundreds of RoboHelp topics. Should you need to change the name of the product, you would have to go through the entire project and manually change the product name, one-by-one (or use RoboHelp's Find/Change feature).
As an alternative to manually adding the product name throughout a project and then having to worry about manually updating the text later, you can create a variable. The variable will display the product name as if it were regular text, and insert the variable within topics, snippets, the Table of Contents (TOC), and/or the Index. Should the product name need to be changed, edit the variable text via the Variables pod and it will be updated everywhere. It's a powerful feature and very easy to use.
In this article, I want to show you a fantastic enhancement to variables that was introduced in Adobe RoboHelp 10: the ability to add variables within Topic Titles.
In older versions of RoboHelp, a Topic Title was static text, meaning that you had to manually type the Topic Title when you created the topic. If you added the topic to the TOC, the Topic Title appeared on the TOC. But since the Topic Title was static, a change to the Topic Title when editing the Properties of the topic meant that you also needed to edit the text that appeared on the TOC. The ability to add a variable within the Topic Title means the text will be linked to the Topic Properties and will automatically update everywhere.
Add a Variable Within a Topic Title
- After you've created the variable, display a topic's Properties dialog box. (You can display the Properties dialog box for the topic via the Topic List pod by right-clicking the topic.)
- On the General tab, click the Variables drop-down menu and and select a variable.
- In the Topic Title field, select the location where you want to insert the variable.
- Click the Insert button.
Now that the topic's Title is using a variable, should you update the variable at any time, the variable text will update within the topic text, title, Index and the TOC.