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Delphi Developer Days 2017

As you probably know, we have been a proud sponsor of the Delphi Developer Days for several years and would like to remind you that DDD 2017 is coming!

Tour dates

Chicago, Illinois Sepember 25-26, 2017
Antwerp, Belgium October 9-10, 2017
Frankfurt, Germany November 27-28, 2017

 

Detailed information and registration

http://www.delphideveloperdays.com/

 

 

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New Rescue Copy Feature in Help+Manual 7.3

In Help+Manual 7.3 we have removed the feature Rescue Copy from the Save menu. Instead, the feature is now implicitely integrated in the Save-As command. If you ever wondered what the Rescue Copy actually did, this topic is for you.

What the Rescue Copy did, was to create a new empty project that contained only the changes you made since you hit “Save” the last time. The idea was to save pending changes somewhere if Help+Manual could not save them to the original project.

Imagine you are running Help+Manual on your computer and open a help project from a remote file server. The server is connected through VPN and the connection depends on your Internet connection. The Internet connection breaks at some time, but you don’t notice because you are busy making changes to the project. Just when you hit “Save”… ooops! Can’t do it, Sir.

If the connection to the server is broken, Help+Manual cannot save the project to the original location. If you try, you get an error message.

(A bit of panik sets in…)

But Help+Manual suggests to save the project locally instead, using the Save-As command. Excellent idea, you say to yourself and hit Save-As…

The problem is: a “Save-As” normally creates a full copy of the original project, just saved locally. The entire content of the original project is duplicated in this case, including those topic files (on the file server) that have not been even loaded yet, because you did neither view nor change them. To do a complete Save-As, Help+Manual must load those yet-not-loaded files from the server to save them locally to the new project. Which, of course, fails if the server connection is broken, resulting in a second error message, that Save-As could not be completed.

(Tense panic now…)

At this point, it was time for the Rescue Copy. If nothing else works, the Rescue Copy would save the pending changes to a new help project to store them for later, when the connection to the server would be reestablished.

Would you have ever thought of this feature in Help+Manual, when in panic? Probably not. And this is exactly, why we removed the Rescue Copy feature. We implicitly implemented it in Save-As instead.

With Help+Manual 7.3, when the original Save operation cannot complete, because a server connection is broken, you can always use Save-As. Help+Manual will try to create a complete copy of the original project with Save-As.

If a complete copy is not possible (connection broken, remember!), it will save just the changes you made in the meantime and will report, what it could save and what it couldn’t. It is now a transparent save operation, that will work in any case and at the very least rescue all your recent work on the project.

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Free Trial: Premium Pack Toolbox with Normalize Styles

The Toolbox application included with the Premium Pack skin suite is a Swiss Army knife for Help+Manual projects and skins as well as a configuration utility for the Premium Pack skins. The upcoming 3.23 version of Toolbox has a powerful new feature called Normalize Styles that can radically accelerate two important tasks:

  • Integrating content imported from HTML and CHM files into your project stylesheet
  • Removing inline/manual formatting to clean up your projects’ XML source for translation

This is already fully compatible with the new Tidy XML feature in the upcoming Help+Manual 7.3 update, so if you are already using the 7.3 beta you can use the latest version of Toolbox with it. You can download a free trial version of Toolbox with these features here and try it out before it is officially released with Premium Pack 3.23:

Premium Pack Toolbox Free Trial

If you are a registered Premium Pack user you can use the trial version without restrictions. Otherwise you can test it on Help+Manual projects with a maximum of 20 topics. The trial will not disable your current version of Toolbox if you have one and expires two weeks after installation.

Integrating imported HTML into your stylesheet

When you import HTML files or a CHM help file to a Help+Manual project your formatting comes in as inline or “manual” formatting that cannot be directly controlled by the styles in your project. Normally, you need to create styles based on the formatting and then manually apply them to all the paragraphs in your project where you want to use the style.

So long as the text imported from HTML or CHM is tagged with style names, Normalize Styles eliminates many hours of tedious work by doing this automatically. All you need is for a paragraph or any text within the paragraph to be tagged with a style name. It will then apply your selected paragraph style to the entire paragraph. At the same time it eliminates manual formatting so that your paragraphs are fully under the control of the project stylesheet. But it also optionally allows you to keep text already formatted with other styles and manual bold, italics and underlining. And you can also automatically apply specified styles to hyperlinks and toggle links.

 

Normalize entire project

The second tab of the Normalize Project Styles tool is called “Entire Project”. It automatically normalizes all the text in your entire project, removing manual formatting and putting everything under the control of the styles defined in your project stylesheet. This can be very useful when you are preparing your project for translation, because it significantly reduces the number of redundant inline XML tags and attributes that can make life more difficult for the translator.

This even applies if you are using the new Tidy XML feature introduced in Help+Manual 7.3, because your project may still contain a lot of manual formatting “cruft” accumulated during normal day-to-day work (and it is fully compatible with Tidy XML). In our tests, Normalize reduced the tag volume in a 750-topic project by a further 25%, even after Tidy XML had been applied.

If you use styles systematically, this function too can save you hours of tedious work because you no longer need to manually tidy up all the manually-formatted paragraphs in your project after locating them with Project Report. And here too, you can protect text already formatted with other styles and manual bold, underline and italics.

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Using Help+Manual WebHelp on MS Azure

Experienced Help+Manual user Garry Robinson has just published a terrific tutorial explaining how he deploys and maintains Help+Manual WebHelp documentation on Microsoft Azure sites. In addition to the basics, he also explains how Dropbox and other similar services can be used to keep the site up to date.

Garry reports that the performance is outstanding, even with the lowest-tier Azure web service that he is using.

Visit the tutorial here:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/publishing-websites-azure-garry-robinson

Azure website configuration

 

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Major Update: Premium Pack 3.20 and 3.21

Premium Pack version 3.20 is now available, and since the initial release we have also put out a small 3.21 maintenance release that corrects some issues reported by users. This is a free update for all current Premium Pack 3 users. It is the largest update to date, with significant new features and improvements for the V3 Responsive skins and the V2 skins for both WebHelp and EWriter books.

How to get the update:

You can download and install the updated version with the same download link and installation password from the mail you received when you purchased your copy of Premium Pack 3. If you no longer have this please contact support@ec-software.com and we will help you out.

See the Premium Pack product page for more details on Premium Pack 3 and visit our online store to purchase.

New in the V3 Responsive Skins

  • New handling of multiple TOC entries for topics
    Navigation now works perfectly for multiple TOC entries for the same topic. Previous, next and breadcrumb links go to the correct TOC entries, not to the first entry for the topic.  Chapters consisting of a single topic work correctly. You can also link to specific TOC entries with both URLs and topic links.
  • Support for user JS code, URL parameters and session variables
    Add code to be executed automatically after each topic loads. Pass parameters to your code with URLs and store them in session variables that persist for the current session or across sessions. Hide and show topic content on the basis of session variable settings.
  • Tap images and layout tables for mobile devices
    Tap images make normal images behave like toggles on mobile devices. A double-tap expands the image to the screen size with pinch-zoom. Layout tables hide tables that would break mobile layouts and replaces them with a tap bar. Tapping displays the full scrollable table on top of the help. You just need to add a class name to activate both functions.
  • Support for Google Web Fonts with H+M editor integration
    You now integrate Google Web Fonts in your WebHelp output and also use them directly in Help+Manual so that you see the fonts you are using while you are editing. Setting them up and using them is quick and easy.
  • Expand All option for Keyword Index pane in desktop mode
    Setting the new INDEX_DESK_EXPAND variable to true a fully-expanded keyword index is now generated in desktop browsers.
  • SmartCache for topics and popups
    Topics and popups are cached after the first visit in the current session, but the first access always loads from the server to ensure the user never sees an old version.
  • Support for formatted headers from the topic
    Include the formatted header from the topic in the header of V3 skins, enabling the inclusion of images inserted in individual headers. This is activated with a new Skin Build Options setting in the Publish screen.

New in the V2 WebHelp + EWriter skins

  • Support for user JS code, URL parameters and session variables
    Add code to be executed automatically after each topic loads. Pass parameters to your code with URLs and store them in session variables that persist for the current session or across sessions. Hide and show topic content on the basis of session variable settings.
  • Elimination of Flash for copying permalinks
    The Copy Permalink function no longer users an Adobe Flash component. This has been replaced by modern HTML5 functions. Among other things, this prepares for Google Chrome’s upcoming blocking of background Flash usage.
  • Preservation of help state during and between sessions
    Navigation pane width and state, header state and the current scroll positions of the keyword index and search results are now preserved for the user during the current session. Navigation pane width and header state are preserved between sessions.

New in the Premium Pack Toolbox

  • Editing templates for skins with spaces in their names didn’t work in some editors like Sublime Text. The editor opened multiple blank files with the names of the template name components.
  • Added a sortable Last Edit Date column to the Baggage Files section so that recently edited files can easily be sorted to the top of the list.
  • A large range of executable Windows script and batch file extensions are now automatically identified as editable “code” files when they are in the baggage so that they are opened in the code editor when you double-click them.
  • Changing build options on new baggage files added in the current session didn’t activate the Save Project button.
  • Changing the ID of build options in skins showed incorrect dialogs that needed to be clicked away before the ID could be changed.

Fixes added with the 3.21 Maintenance Update

  • V3 skins, FOUC:
    On some slow servers there could be a FOUC (Flash Of Unformatted Content) on the first load of the WebHelp.
  • V3 skins, IE bug:
    If the user had DOM Storage turned off in Internet Explorer options the WebHelp would come up completely unformatted. This could also happen on older versions of IE with buggy support for DOM Storage.
  • V3 Skins, tooltips:
    There were some hard-coded tooltips in the navigation buttons of the topic header so that changing the variable definitions didn’t change the tooltips.
  • V3 Skins, right-click on topic links:
    A right-click on a topic link executed the link and then displayed the context menu. This now only displays the context menu.
  • WebHelp/EWriter skins, Boxed Aqua skin:
    The file name for the box header background was hard-coded in the template and could not be changed with the configuration variables settings
  • WebHelp/EWriter skins, print preview:
    Print Preview failed to complete correctly due to a conflict with the new support for session variables.
  • WebHelp/EWriter:
    Identification of DOM Storage support for the new session variables updated to account for weaknesses in Internet Explorer.
  • Language Files:
    Some minor corrections in the German versions of the language files.
  • Premium Pack Toolbox:
    An incorrect error message was displayed when removing project and HTML options from the skin. Undoing such a removal now automatically restores the removed value if done while still in the same screen.
  • Premium Pack Toolbox:
    The program could hang on Open Project if the last folder visited was a network folder that had become unavailable, for example on a laptop no longer connected to the network.

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Delphi Developer Days 2016

Being Delphi developers ourselfs, we are a proud sponsor of the Delphi Developer Days!

Delphi Developer Days 2016 is a four-city Delphi tour in the United States, Europe, and Scandinavia. Each Delphi Developer Days event includes two days of Delphi sessions with Cary Jensen and Nick Hodges. They present both joint sessions, in which they explore in-depth topics together, as well as simultaneous tracks, where they break out into separate rooms to present diverse topics. All attendees will receive a Delphi Developer Days course book, containing more than 300 pages of material presented during Delphi Developer Days.

Chicago, Illinois: November 14-15, 2016
Copenhagen, Denmark: November 24-25, 2016
Frankfurt, Germany: November 28-29, 2016
Baltimore, Maryland: December 5-6, 2016

dddlogo
Delphi Developer Days 2016

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Publisher & Product Awards: H+M Is the Top Help Tool on ComponentSource

cs-award-2016-product-top-100-large

cs-award-2016-publisher-top-50-large
We are proud and excited to announce that EC Software has once again received both the Top 50 Publisher and Top 100 Product Awards from ComponentSource, one of the leading online shops for professional development software.

In addition to this, Help+Manual is now the top-selling help authoring tool at ComponentSource by a wide margin. Help+Manual ranks 67th in the overall sales ranking for all products in the ComponentSource store.

ComponentSource Publisher Awards page:

https://www.componentsource.com/help-support/bestselling-publisher-awards-2016

 

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Standalone free EWriter Tool Updated

Our free standalone tool for generating EWriter eBooks and help files from HTML source files has now been updated to 1.0.1. This update brings the standalone version up to date with the EWriter publishing features in the current version of Help+Manual 7.

You can download the installer for the updated EWriter tool here:

http://download.ec-software.com/ewriter-setup.exe

About EWriter

EWriter is a freeware Windows eBook and help format that supports context-sensitive help and can replace CHM files for documenting Windows applications. It combines the benefits of CHM and WebHelp and eliminates the major disadvantages of both: Like CHM, it is a compact, single-file format that opens every context help call in the same window. Like WebHelp, the entire interface can be skinned and the books work on network drives. In addition to this, it also supports unique security functions and the ability to link to EXE files to create interactive documentation.

ewriter-standalone-ebook-creator

Limitations

Note that some features supported only by Help+Manual, like links to EXE files, still require EWriter source files generated by Help+Manual itself, because the HTML code for the links is different. Even if you generate the source as WebHelp in Help+Manual and then use the standalone EWriter tool to compile the WebHelp to EWriter the links to EXE files won’t work because they will be coded differently.

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Author-it Import (Beta) in Help+Manual 7.1

We are close to beta release Help+Manual 7.1, the next free minor update scheduled for April 2016, and we are looking for beta testers in particular for the new Author-it import.

Help+Manual 7.1 will support the latest version of Team Foundation Server, Microsoft Sandcastle and comes with a new import format: Author-it XML project files. We plan to import Author-it projects as precisely as possible to offer a seamless transition from Author-it to Help+Manual.

If you are interested in beta testing the new version, any of the new features above but in particular the Author-it import, please send an email to support@ec-software.com for an invitation to the beta test.

hm710-ait-import

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Premium Pack 3.1 Update

We are delighted to announce the release of the first major update to Premium Pack 3 for Help & Manual 7. This update brings several important new features, adds a wide range of improvements and corrects a number of issues in the original skins. The update is free for all Premium Pack 3 users.

How to get the update:

You can download and install the updated version with the same download link and installation password from the mail you received when you purchased your copy of Premium Pack 3. If you no longer have this please contact support@ec-software.com and we will help you out.

See the Premium Pack product page for more details on Premium Pack 3 and visit our online store to purchase.

New Features in the V3 Responsive skins:

Language Files for all Skin Types
To make translations easier, the Premium Pack Toolbox utility can now export and import all the interface texts stored in your skin to and from external language files. Users can now share their language versions, which we will make available with skin updates as we receive them. German and English language files are included for all skins. 

Field-level Topics
The very popular field-level popups have now been supplemented by field-level topics. You can now display entire topic pages from your help without taking the user away from your page. Toggles, popups and even videos are supported on the pages.

URL switches for Search and Index tabs
The V3 responsive skins now support URL switches for Index and Search. You can create links to the help that open the keyword index or search tab and perform a search for a specified keyword.

Additional programming options for embedded help
We have added additional options for JavaScript programmers for handling embedded help on your pages. You can open and close the embedded help from your own scripts, and specify a “callback function” to be executed after the help opens or closes.

Blink effect for anchor targets
In the V2 skins the targets of anchor links and Auto-TOC headings blink twice briefly after you scroll to them as a cue to the user. This turned out to be so popular that users were missing it in the V3 Responsive skins. We have now restored it there and made it configurable. You can turn it off with a configuration variable.

Improvement for operation without a web server
We have corrected the jquery.history.js component to work better with Internet Explorer when displaying WebHelp locally without a web server. It now also works correctly from paths containing spaces and paths to local servers like NAS devices.

Fixes and Improvements:

The 3.1 update package includes the following fixes and improvements. Most of them apply to the new V3 Responsive skins, but we have also made some key changes to the WebHelp/EWriter skins.

V3 Responsive Skins:

  • Field-level popups can now be closed with the ESC key as well as the close icon. They can be called with the topic ID on its own, without the previously required “.js” extension.
  • Accented and umlaut characters in variables were rendered incorrectly in WebHelp output during browsing (but not on the first page). This fix requires updating to Help & Manual 7.0.9 or later
  • Anchor links to topics in popups did not scroll to the anchor.
  • Topics with multiple entries in the TOC: Selecting a duplicate TOC entry highlighted the first entry pointing to that topic instead of the one that was clicked or tapped.
  • Links to topics with anchors did not work if the links were on the default topic page (index.html).
  • Links to anchors didn’t work if the anchor name contained a dot.
  • The titles of topics defined without headers in Help & Manual did not display correctly.
  • Some interface variables were not updated in templates when they were edited.
  • If there was more than one video light box on a topic page, only the first one worked.
  • Opened image toggles did not close if the user navigated to a new topic while the toggle was open.
  • Some entries for variables and settings in PP Toolbox showed an error message even if you entered correct values (errors in the plausibility checks for some values).
  • Variables for the texts in the permalink popup were not applied when the variable texts were edited.
  • Variables in topic footer didn’t update when browsing to new topics. Topic footer failed to display on browsing without a web server.
  • Browsing WebHelp without a web server failed on some non-mapped drives, for example NAS systems in the local network.
  • Browser history sometimes failed when browsing via the TOC (back button went to the previous page instead of the previous topic).
  • Show/Hide Expanding Text hamburger menu item did not switch to “Hide” when toggles are open in a topic when the topic is first loaded.

V2 WebHelp/EWriter skins:

  • New variables for setting the maximum width of the browsing, search and index tabs and the current title displayed in the browser tab.
  • Tools in the toolbar were sometimes too widely spaced the first time the help was opened.
  • Improved topic print preview and multi-page printing for both WebHelp and EWriter.
  • New variable for setting monochrome printing (sets all text on the page to black and all backgrounds to transparent for the printout.

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