Advanced Example
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In the following scenario a Project Manager has to manage a large Help Project called "Visual Mechanics". He has one key member of staff, Andrew, who can document the majority of the topics, but there are two sections of the project that require specialized knowledge that Andrew does not possess.

What are the options available?

The Project Manager opts for the second option, so he sits down with Andrew and determines the structure of the Help Project. This is time well spent, because once they have added all the Headings and Topics that they think they will need, they are left with a framework that now requires the content to be filled in, and is easier to quantify in terms of what needs to be done and by whom.

Here is what he decides. He has three resources, Andrew, Allan and Susan. He will create one project for each. One project will be the master project and the other two will be slave satellite projects.

Creating the Master Project

In line with the Project Managers plan, Andrew creates a new folder on their server called "Z:\Help Projects\Visual Mechanics". Beneath this he will create three projects, first is the master project which will bind the other two slave projects together. He selects "File | New Project" and fills in the details as follows:

He now has an empty Project, but before he starts adding topics, he wants to ensure there are no conflicts with the other two projects, so he selects "Project | Project Settings" from the menu and changes the Last Used Topic HelpID to 40,000 and the Popup HelpID to 800, as follows:

The reason for this is to avoid conflicts with the other two slave projects, as we will see later. He now begins adding the Headings and Topics that he has agreed with the Project Manager. His Project now looks like this:

The "Advanced Topics" heading is where the two slave projects will eventually be merged.

Creating the "Quantum Mechanics" Project

All Slave Projects should be created by the person who is responsible for the Master Project. After selecting "File | New Project", Andrew fills in the details as follows:

He now selects "Project | Project Settings" and changes the Last users Topic HelpID to 20,000 and the Popup HelpID to 200. Notice that this is a different range of numbers from the Master project to avoid possible conflicts. Each topic and popup has two unique identifiers, the HelpID and the ContextString. Setting the HelpIDs to their own range helps to prevent conflicts.

Keeping the Project Settings screen open, Andrew now goes to the ContextStrings tab and sets the "Prefix ContextStrings with:" field to "QM_", short for Quantum Mechanics. This will allow the Project Manager to later identify which pages were created by which Project or user, and will also reduce the possibility of two topics having the same context string.

After clicking ok, the project is now ready. He now has two choices. He can either leave the project empty so that Professor Allan can add his own topics as he sees fit, or create the basic structure by adding Headings and Topics now and asking the Professor to fill in the content. Our advice is to liaise with the Professor to help him establish the best structure, but either way will work and we will see how it progresses later.

The Project is now ready for the Professor, so Andrew informs the Professor of the location of the project on the server and the Professor then loads Fast-Help, selects "File | Open Project", points to "Z:\Help Projects\Visual Mechanics\Quantum Mechanics" and opens the project. He can now work on the project. Let's assume that he is progressing with that and we will return to him later. Andrew has a lot to do as it is.

Creating "The Law of Attraction" Project

Andrew selects "File | New Project", and fills in the details as follows:

He then goes into Project Settings and sets the Last Used Topic HelpID to 30,000 and the Popup HelpID to 400. He then clicks on the ContextStrings tab and sets the prefix to "LA_". He does not have to restrict it to three characters, nor does he have to use the "_" underscore character, it is simply a matter of preference and company standards. Andrew makes a note of the ranges of HelpIDs used and submits the following table to the Project Manager for his reference:

Master Project

Andrew Smith

Quantum Mechanics

Allan Jones

Law of Attraction

Susan Flaherty

Topic HelpIDs




Popup HelpIDs







Andrew will decide whether to leave the Project empty at this point or to create a basic structure. This Project will be worked on externally from the company, so Andrew now selects "File | Backup/Restore Project" and creates a minimum backup. This will create a single zip file containing everything the project needs. He then e-mails this zip file to Susan Flaherty. She unzips it to her local machine and then adds topics and headings, etc.

Fast forward two weeks...

Andrew has completed most of his tasks and both Professor Allan and Susan Flaherty are ready with their first draft. Susan has taken a backup of her work and e-mailed the zip file to Andrew. Andrew now loads "The Law of Attraction" Project, which is empty at the moment, and selects "File | Backup/Restore Project". He clicks on the Restore tab and chooses the zip file that Susan has sent. Andrew can now see all the work that Susan has been doing.

There is no need to do anything specifically with the "Quantum Mechanics" project because it is stored on the server, so now Andrew is read to add the two slave projects into the master project. He could have done this at an earlier stage, but it is best to do this once the structure of each project has been defined.

Registering the Slave Projects with the Master Project

Andrew now opens the master project and selects "Project | Multi-Project Register". He clicks the [Add] button and navigates to the "Quantum Physics" project and adds it, then repeats the same for "The Law of Attraction" project.

After clicking [Close], he is now ready to reference the slave topics in the Master project. He selects the Heading, "Advanced Topics", because he wants both slave projects topics to appear below that heading. But he could add individual pages anywhere throughout the project if he wished.

Andrew has prepared two headings below the "Advanced Topics" heading, one for each slave project. He  right-clicks on "Quantum Physics" and selects "Add a Topic from Another Project".

He selects the "Quantum Mechanics" project and clicks [Next], then clicks the [Check All Pages] button and then the [Finish] button. A report now shows what has been added. Log entries in Green indicate that there were no problems. Entries in Red indicate a conflict and a note will show how that conflict was dealt with. The master project now looks like this:

He repeats the process for the next slave project by right-clicking on "The Law of Attraction" heading, selecting "Add a Topic from another Project", choosing "The Law of Attraction" project, checking all pages and clicking [Finish]. The master project now looks like this:

Testing the Master Project

Andrew now reviews the referenced topics. As he is more experienced that the authors of the slave projects, he may now decide to make modifications to the original slave projects, adding links, more keywords, screenshots, images etc. If he does make modifications, he would need to take another backup of "The Law of Attraction" project and send it back to Susan Flaherty, if she needs to make any further updates. He may also now decide to create links from the master project's topics to the slave project's topics. 

Fast forward one more week...

Final amendments have been completed on the two slave projects and Susan Flaherty has e-mailed in her new backup zip file. Andrew has restored it. There are two new topics that have been added, so he adds these into the master project, but there is also one topic which Susan has deleted, and this needs to be deleted from the master project too. The only changes to the "Quantum Physics" project were to the help text. Andrew now compiles to the formats he needs, CHM, Website Help and PDF. Project complete.


Q: Why did Andrew add the slave projects to the master project at a late stage?

A: He could have added them right at the beginning, but he would have had to add all the new topics later because the structure was not initially in place in the slave projects. Whenever a new page is added to the slave project, if it will appear in the master project, then it needs to be added to the master project. Andrew wanted to wait until all the topics and headings were created before he added them to the master project.

See also

Updating and Maintaining Referenced Topics

The Multi-Project Register


Potential pitfalls and how to avoid them

Re-usability and your existing Projects

Splitting existing projects