Author-it Tips and Tricks



One of the strengths of the Author-it is the help and support that members of the Author-it User Group provide to each other. But it occurred to me a lot of this useful information is lost and buried in the mountain messages and not captured anywhere. I also thought that it would be useful to have a repository of this great information.

So I have created a wiki to try and capture this information.

The wiki is at [Update: Wiki is now closed]

I encourage you to add your tips and tricks, your how-to’s, or if you find a great post about Author-it on the web, link to it. Or if you ask a question on the list and you get a useful reply or solution, add it to the wiki.

You will need to register to add or edit content, but anyone can view it.

I guess it is also a bit of a social experiment. Can a group dominated by professional communicators create and maintain a useable wiki? :)

There are also only two guidelines that I would ask people to follow:

  • Do not post opinions of the product (praise or criticism).
  • Do keep the tone professional; treat it like your own documentation.

This tip shows how you can use Publishing Profiles and an after publish batch file to rename the publishing folder with a unique name - the current date and time.

Create the Batch File

Create a text called rename_dir.bat and save it in a central location, for example, C:\Program Files\Author-it 5\Data\Templates. Paste the following commands in the text file and save it:

@echo off
for /f "tokens=2 delims=/- " %%f in ('date /t') do (set dd=%%f)
for /f "tokens=3 delims=/- " %%g in ('date /t') do (set mm=%%g)
for /f "tokens=4 delims=/- " %%k in ('date /t') do (set yy=%%k)
for /f "tokens=1 delims=/: " %%h in ('time /t') do (set hh=%%h)
for /f "tokens=2 delims=/: " %%m in ('time /t') do (set nn=%%m)

set foldername=%yy%-%mm%-%dd%_%hh%-%nn%

rename %1 %foldername%


Set Up Publishing Profile to Call Batch File

Add an "After Publishing" Command Line action to the Publishing Profile that calls the batch file, as shown below.

Update [2012-05-25]: Thanks to Harro de Jong from Triview who picked up an error in the batch file code. It was previously re-assigning the minute value to the month variable and using that value twice in the folder name. This has now been fixed. Thanks Harro.

Many software products have multiple supported releases deployed on customer sites. Documentation teams are often required to maintain documentation for all supported releases

This document (1.3 MB) outlines one solution for using Author-it Variants (introduced in v5.1) for maintaining documentation for multiple releases of software.

Also, this document (0.25 MB) outlines some alternative solutions.

If you use this solution, please register for updates.

[Update: 2009-12-17] Updated document with information about removing older releases and an FAQ.

[Update: 2010-03-10] Updated 'Removing old releases' section with information about re-indexing the search and using release states to track the variants to be removed.

Update: This list is out of date. Refer to the Author-it User Wiki. [Update: Wiki now closed]

Some notes/tips after using variants for a bit:

  • After adding your first variant variable in the Author-it Administrator, you need to restart the Author-it Editor before the variants command group is displayed in the ribbon.
  • "Publishing failed due to an error: The given key was not present in the dictionary" error. Occurred after adding a new variant in the Author-it administrator and then publishing a book that used that variant.
    Solution: Restart Author-it.
  • General rule after doing anything with variants in the Author-it Administrator: restart Author-it.
  • All variant variables are displayed in the 'Filter contents using variant criteria' tab in the editor, irrespective of whether the variants are used in the book or not.
  • Search does not find/report variant objects. [Thanks to Pat who found this one.] [Case#: 33748]
  • From the Book Editor, when you change a template of a sub-book, the change doesn't apply. You have to go to the Library view and change the template from there. [Again, thanks to Pat.]
  • When publishing, Author-it doesn't seem to test if a sub book itself has a variant applied to it. That is, if the sub-book has a variant, but none of the topic in the sub-book have variants, Author-it does not prompt for the variant value when publishing. [Case#: 33749]
    Solution: Have a topic in the sub-book that uses the variant, or, have a topic in the main book that uses the variant.
  • Same as above for file objects used in topics. If the file object has a variant, but the book does not contain a topic that uses the variant, you won't be prompted for the variant when publishing. However, if you have a topic that uses that variant, you are prompted for the variant value, and the correct file object variant is used. [Case#: 33749]
  • General Tip: Have a dummy topic in your main book that has no content that has one variant that has all variant variables assigned to it. When you publish the book, you will always be prompted for all variant variables, and the correct variants will be published.
  • Assigning Variant Criteria to a Publishing Profile means that you cannot update the criteria when you publish - it still displays the Publish Job Variant Assignment dialogue box.

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