Help+Manual News

Qt Help Format Support

We are happy to announce the immediate availability of QtHelpConverter, an add-on application for Help+Manual to create Qt Help files. With QtHelpConverter as add-on, Help+Manual now publishes help files in Qt Help format.

About Qt
Qt is a cross-platform application framework for developing application software that can be run on various software and hardware platforms.

Converts HTML Help to Qt Help

QtHelpConverter takes a compiled HTML Help/CHM file and outputs Qt help (.qch). Note that this application is not an authoring tool, it just converts a finished CHM help file to a corresponding Qt help file.

The converter is a stand-alone application and can be used with any standards-compliant HTML Help/CHM file.

For seamless integration in Help+Manual, QtHelpConverter has a command line interface to turn a CHM files created by Help+Manual into a Qt Help file. The converter application includes online help (in Qt format, of course) with detailed instructions.

QtHelpConverter is free

Download QtHelpConverter

 

 

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Help+Manual 7.3.1 Maintenance Update

We just released a maintenance update for Help+Manual 7.3,1. This maintenenance update fixes a few bugs that were still present in the 7.3.0 release.

Known Issues

  • Topic editor, paragraph options: if the options “Keep para with next” was set manually for a paragraph, the modification was not stored.
  • Optical glitch in Paragraph ribbon tab: for a paragraph with justified text, both options the “Left align” and “Justify” were displayed as “on”.
  • PDF/Print: 8-bit PNG images with bit-transparent areas appeared too transparent in PDF (transparency was applied by transparency-color, not by bit mask).
  • TidyXML: the batch change option included the reference to the schema file without a relative path. This is uncritical in Help+Manual but external validation of topic XML files might not work in this case.

Download

Please download the update to Help+Manual 7.3.1 from our download page and install over your existing installation of Help+Manual.

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Help+Manual 7.3 with TidyXML Released

We are happy to announce the release of Help+Manual 7.3. This maintenenance update includes an important new feature called TidyXML – a more streamlined XML topic format, that will help external translations of the content. The new TidyXML feature is explained in details here.

This update is free for all 7.xx users. Plus, there is an important update for the Premium Pack to version 3.30!

New Features

  • TidyXML implemented (see above).
  • Project Report: Remove Unused Images option implemented. When running the “Full Project Report”, it displays a list of apparently unused images. There is a new button per image folder to move these images to a backup folder.
  • AuthorIT Import: embedded images are now supported.
  • PDF: new option implemented to embed TrueType collections as Type3 fonts. TrueType collections are multiple fonts in one font file and cannot be embedded as TrueType (example: “MS Gothic”).
  • Syntax highlighter configuration dialog: option to save/load a configuration added.
  • Insert Link dialog box: when editing Internet Links, the dialog behaves more intelligently.
  • The function Rescue Copy has been moved from backstage view to the “Save As” function.
  • Style combo, Font and Font Size combobox: dropdown lists have been made longer.

Known Issues

  • Webhelp: XSS vulnerability fixed – all skins and default settings now handle direct context sensitive calls extremely strict, to prevent any form of cross-site scripting.
  • Improvements for high-res 4K monitors
  • PDF/Print: some rare line break problems fixed. Improved widow/orphan control at the beginning of topics.
  • PDF: PNG images with < 24 Bit color depth in PDF: these images were not transparent in the PDF file.
  • Word/DOCX: page breaks at the beginning of a topic are now placed before the topic heading and not between heading and text.
  • Word/DOCX: Several Wingdings bullets symbols did not work on non-ANSI Windows (e.g. Hebrew, Polish, Chinese, Russian).
  • Word/DOCX: links to topic names longer than 43 characters did not work.
  • Word/DOCX: an empty topic body was exported as 1 blank line, which is now suppressed (similar to PDF).
  • PDF Manual Designer: pasting a topic text placeholder somewhere else but at the topic band caused an error.
  • When changing a topic ID, references in secondary TOCs were not changed.
  • Bullet symbols on Hebrew Windows: Wingdings #250 did not work.
  • Image maps in responsive images with % width of page: optical glitch fixed, the hotspots had a small vertical offset.
  • XSLT style sheet for XML file rendering in browser: small bug fix for image search path – a relative image search path that was outside the project folder was not correctly resolved.
  • Webhelp: inline videos (MP4) were reset when clicked twice. A second click must stop the video instead of restarting it.
  • Insert Picture dialog: the padding window has improved positioning on small screens. The dialog now remembers alignment, HTML class, zoom and padding for new images.
  • HTML Help/CHM: Optical glitches in standard CHM-skins fixed.
  • Webhelp: when a blank line contained exactly 2 blanks, the line was exported as
    <p><span> </span></p>, which caused most browsers to ignore the line completely.

 

Premium Pack 3.3 Update

Together with Help+Manual 7.3 we have also released version 3.30 of the Premium Pack add-on. This update brings a major improvement to the Premium Pack Toolbox utility, adding a powerful new feature called Normalize Project Styles. This new tool can save you many hours of manual work when importing formatted text from HTML and CHM. See the Toolbox Help for details.

Version 3.30 of Toolbox also includes a feature for transferring your personal configuration from an old skin to a new one. You can select from ten different settings groups with previews to copy exactly what you need to an updated skin.

In a maintenance update to the skins themselves, a number of issues reported by users have been corrected. The formatting of drop-down menus in the CHM skins has been improved. All WebHelp skins now have an option for removing the “Score/Hits” line below each search result.

Download

Please download the update to Help+Manual 7.3 from our download page and install over your existing installation of Help+Manual.

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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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A great example of integrated WebHelp from Scooter Software

We recently worked with Scooter Software to better integrate their online help into their website.

Scooter makes BeyondCompare, the best multi-file comparison tool on the market. We use BeyondCompare ourselves to synchronize and merge source code changes and Scooter uses Help+Manual for producing their own documentation.

A WebHelp version of BeyondCompare’s documentation is also available online. The old version didn’t match their beautiful Steampunk theme, which we really love. That was a pity, because Help+Manual is extremely powerful when it comes to embedding help content into your website.

This has changed in their gorgeous new version, however: Starting with a draft of a new WebHelp skin that matches the design of their web pages, the web designers at Scooter then fine-tuned the skin and fully integrated it in the host pages. The result is a beautiful example of what is possible with Help+Manual with just a little extra tweaking:

http://www.scootersoftware.com/v4help/

Scooter Software Webhelp

 

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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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Help+Manual 7.3 Beta with TidyXML

We are glad to announce that Help+Manual 7.3 Public Beta is available for download! Version 7.3 implements a slightly modified XML format that is more translation-friendly. We had announced this feature before, now you can try it for the first time.

You can download and install the 7.3 beta version like any previous 7.x update from this direct link:

http://download.ec-software.com/help-and-manual-setup-v730-beta.exe

The link will be kept active during the beta phase and will be updated 2 or 3 times a week.

 

About TidyXML

As you know, Help+Manual saves a project in XML format, enabling external translation programs to parse the XML and translate it. The XML code, that Help+Manual creates, however, is a bit more complicated than many translation programs would like to have it. It is best explained with an example…

Please run Help+Manual and paste the following 2 lines of text into a topic:

Now let’s switch the editor to “XML View” and have a look at the XML code created for these 2 lines:

 

The XML colored in yellow is the code created for the two lines. These are 2 paragraphs (<para> tags in XML) and several separate text elements (<text> tags in XML). A translation program that parses the XML code, does not see the visual representation like you do in Help+Manual. It sees the XML structure only and has to make sense of it.

 

Changing the XML format

Version 7.3 has a switch that you can activate to apply a new and cleaner (tidier) XML syntax. The switch applies per help project and is placed under Configuration > Common Properties > Miscellaneous Options.

To activate the function, perform the following steps:

  1. Make a backup of your help project (!)
  2. Make sure the backup can be restored any time
  3. Open the help project and navigate to the configuration section as shown below
  4. Enabe the option “Write translation-friendly XML“, then click “Apply to all topics

 

 

The difference in XML

The new XML syntax writes <text> tags only where necessary. If the text style is identical with the paragraph style, the text is simply placed between the <para>…</para> tags, making it much easier to read for an external translator. Explicit <text> tags are inserted if the text has a different format than the paragraph. Furthermore, style classes are inherited. The new XML syntax omits redundant “styleclass” attributes for <text> tags and links.

The entire XML structure becomes smaller and more readable.

This new XML structure, however, is not compatbile with older versions of Help+Manual. While you won’t lose content when opening such a converted help project with an older version of H&M, the style inheritance is not recognized and the format might look distorted. Do not open a converted project with an older version of Help+Manual!

 

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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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Learn Technical Writing Online with Help and Manual

We’d like to point you to a new online training course about Technical Writing with Help+Manual, created by Subash Sarath, a technical writer, software developer and Help+Manual user.

This is an online class consisting of several dozens of video tutorials and is best described as a Technical Writing Course for Beginners using Help+Manual.  The focus is more on technical writing than on the nuts and bolts of Help+Manual.

Having used Help+Manual more than any of the other HATs, in the course I teach a fairly good amount of Help+Manual besides fundamentals of Technical Writing. If you or anyone you know is interested in learning Technical Writing or wants to become a Technical Writer, then this is the course for you. You may follow this link to the course.
Subash Sarath

The class curriculum includes among other chapters:

  • Technical Writing Style and Technical Writing Grammar
  • Formatting Content
  • Capturing and Editing Images from the screen
  • Creating more topics for your help file
  • Compiling and Generating the Online Help
  • Generating other forms of Help

 

The online course costs $225 regular (a special offer for $199 in December 2016 is planned) and offers unlimited access to all videos in the class.

Check out the link to the course with several short free preview videos:

http://learn-technical-writing-fast.teachable.com/p/become-an-awesome-technical-writer-with-help-manual

 

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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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