ClickHelp Technical Writing Blog
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ClickHelp Features - Global Find and Replace

Posted by
Anastasia in ClickHelp Features on 3/13/20203 min read

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You can create a truly awesome user manual. Hundreds of topics that describe every product feature thoroughly. Navigation elements that are conveniently located throughout the documentation. Your readability score is high. You’ve configured styles and scripts in your online documentation portal according to your needs.

It’s been going great, except... How are you going to update and maintain all this?

We have an answer. If you are a ClickHelp client, you know it too - Global Find and Replace. It isn’t what you were expecting? All the more reasons to sit back and enjoy this blog post while I am going to show you how helpful this functionality actually is and how you can start applying it right now to begin maintaining your user manuals in the most effective way possible. First, let me describe what this functionality can do, and then we will talk about the real-life use cases.

What can you find and replace?

  • Text - this is, probably, the main use case. If you are applying single-sourcing in your help authoring, you have a fair amount of repeating content under control. And, still, there will definitely be parts of text left that you will need to update manually. This is where Global Find and Replace steps in. Besides the possibility of finding and replacing text, you can do the same with source code!
  • Topic links - the necessity to update topic links is a huge pain for technical writers. God knows where somebody mentioned them... In ClickHelp, aside from Global Find and Replace, we've got one more killer feature to help you keep up with your topic links - automatic link validation and update implemented: now, when a topic or file URL changes, the system looks for all links and suggests updating them automatically if some links are found.
  • File links - yet another awesome feature to make your life easier.

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Here's what you can search for across the entire documentation portal:

  • Topics (both title and source)
  • Styles
  • Scripts
  • ToDo items
  • Index keywords
  • TOC nodes (their captions)
  • Review comments (with any status)

ClickHelp has multiple filters for search customization. Filter search results by entity type and by publications/projects. Or, go even deeper: apply extra filters like match case (or the whole word) and use regular expressions. For your convenience, search results can be previewed with matches highlighted. You can replace all matches in one go or choose only specific matches to be replaced manually.

How You Can Apply Global Find and Replace

Just as I promised at the beginning of this post, I am going to give you more use cases for this functionality. Although, the value described above is huge on its own.

  • Use Global Find and Replace for post-import cleanup of content and styles. This can be pretty handy when removing third-party master page markup and scripts or replacing third-party navigation elements (like Next/Previous links).
  • Make more content single-sourced for even easier maintenance. You can find all occurrences of a word/phrase/source code snippet and simply replace it with such single-sourcing elements as variables, snippets, or conditional blocks.
  • Fix content styles swiftly. This works like magic for documentation imported from Word files with automatic CSS class generation.
  • Turn this Global Find and Replace feature into an additional tool to fine-tune your single-sourcing. Find and replace variables and output tags.
  • Use this functionality to find each and every reference to a JavaScript function/variable.
  • And much more - just turn on your imagination!

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Conclusion

With Global Find and Replace, handling your documentation will become a pleasure instead of torture. Now, there is no need to clean up your content and styles, find and replace all occurrences of an external URL, and the like manually! Moreover, it will help you be proactive with adding more single-sourcing! Enjoy using it!

Good luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices

 

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