Author-it: Duplicating objects

August 16, 2008

Although Author-it excels at content reuse, there are times when you might need to duplicate an object.

Duplication is a valid option in situations like these:

  • Create a new media/topic/file/style whatever object that’s the same as an existing one, except for minor variations
  • Create a new book that’s the same as an existing one, then remove topics from or add topics to the new ‘duplicate’ book so it now is different from the first.
  • Create a topic that’s the same in many ways than another one; for example, the beginning and ending steps may be the same, but the middle may vary from the other.

In all these cases, it is easier to create a duplicate and modify it, than to create the object from scratch (put it this way, if less than 50% of the existing object needs to change, I’ll duplicate it in preference to creating another from scratch). And a duplicate is necessary under these circumstances because you really DON’T want any connection with the thing you started from.

If you DO want to maintain connection, then you either have to create a new version (gets the same object ID), or use an embedded topic.

Duplicating is the cheat’s way of creating new things without having to build them from new. Everything you need is already there—the ‘based on’ template, the resizing and file path (if a file object), the output options, etc. In the case of topics, there’s even some text to play with.

Duplication is NOT the same as copy/paste – it’s actually more powerful. For example, in Author-it you can’t copy/paste a section that contains embedded content, but you *can* duplicate a topic that contains embedded content.

In Author-it v5.x, you can duplicate multiple objects at once (in v4.x you could only duplicate one object at a time).

In v5.x, you select the objects you want to duplicate, click the Manage tab on the ribbon, then click the Duplicate icon. Copies of all selected objects are made—you can find then at the bottom of the currently opened folder’s list. Their descriptions become “Copy of [original description]“.

Once you’ve made your duplicate objects, open them up, change their Description (and the Description on the output tabs too, if required), modify their contents or settings, then save. NOTE: If you use a manually-assigned file name for HTML output, you MUST give the duplicate a new file name, otherwise you’ll end up with blank pages in the HTML output.


  1. After duplicating a book, when I make a change in one of the topics, the same topic in the original book also gets changed. I need the changes to reflect ONLY in the duplicated book.

  2. That’s by design. If you want to duplicate a topic, you do that separately. Or make a variant of it.

  3. That is one *horrible* design if the behavior is truly is by design. Duplicating an object should duplicate the contents of the objects as well.

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