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Posted by tim green on December 4, 2012
This is the first major update to Premium Pack 2, introducing several major new features and a wealth of improvements and enhancements. The main additions are offline web app mode for the iPad skin and integration of XCommentPro comments for WebHelp. Offline web apps mean iPad documentation can be stored locally on the iPad. It is then displayed like an app with no browser header and full support for search, and will update automatically in the background when the device is online. XCommentPro is a commercial PHP-based comments system that allows you to host your own comments rather than relying on a public provider like Disqus or IntenseDebate. It works both on the Internet and local intranets.
HOW TO GET THE NEW VERSION
If you already have Premium Pack 2 this is a free upgrade. You can get the new version by using the download link in the mail you received when you purchased PP2, or just contact EC Software support for help. If you don’t already have any Premium Pack you can purchase from our online store. If you have Premium Pack 1 you can purchase an upgrade from the store.
GET A 50% DISCOUNT ON XCOMMENTPRO
As part of the launch of Premium Pack 2.1, Help & Manual users can get a special 50% discount on the XCommentPro commenting package. Just visit the XCommentPro store and use the coupon code PPXCOMMENT when you make your purchase.
- Integration of XCommentPro
- All comments are now displayed in a lightbox with scrollbar (also Disqus and IntenseDebate comments)
- Image lightboxes have been updated: they now automatically expand within the borders of the browser window, with a zoom button for full size
- All tabs synchronize with the TOC
- Users can specify up to 5 topics that will be opened automatically in tabs
- The visitor’s last tabs can be reopened automatically on the next visit (30-day cookie)
- Comprehensive overhaul of search page layout for full compatibility with the full version of Wrensoft Zoom and better general layout
- Email feedback: You can now alternatively enter an URL for your own email feedback page with a paramater string
- Email-Feedback: Your email address is now only stored in one central location and can be obfuscated (anti-spam)
- Topic title display in the browser title bar can be disabled
- Google Chrome check to warn users trying to open WebHelp in Google Chrome without a web server
- Pages with large images didn’t have a horizontal scrollbar if the topic had no header
- Permalink fixes for the Metro version of IE 10
- Fixes for videos in IE 10 Metro and Desktop versions
- Windows 8 laptops and tablets with touch-screens are now correctly identified
- Additional icon sets for sortable tables were missing in some skins
- Hide search and index tools in the toolbar when the user has disabled search or index
- Relative web links open in a new window or tab (necessary for links to other webhelp sites)
- Solved problem with “script busy” messages shown on IE 8 for help with very long TOCs
- Save iPad documentation as an offline web app with automatic background updating
- Support for retina images (automatic switch)
- Touch support for lightbox images with automatic height and width adjustment and zoom button
- Automatic warning if iOS version is out of date
- Update of search page layout for compatibility with the full version of Wrensoft Zoom and better general layout
- Updates for iOS 6 (multiple issues)
- SEO enhancements
- Image lightboxes have been updated: they now automatically expand within the borders of the browser window, with a zoom button for viewing image full size
- File Link Fixer failed with some file links
- Additional icon sets for sortable tables were missing in some skins
- Lightbox images are now supported on smartphones
- Support for retina images (automatic switching)
- Option: Open to TOC instead of first topic
- Option: Load topics in background when selected in TOC
- SEO improvements
- Modifications for Chrome on Android (multiple issues, Chrome is still buggy)
- Images exactly matching the device width are now resized correctly
- Significantly improved responsiveness
- Topics can now use any file extension, not just .htm
Posted by tim green on December 3, 2012
FindMySoft (http://www.findmysoft.com) has written an extensive and very nice review for our capture tool TNT Screen Capture. Check out the review from the link below!
TNT Screen Capture is our freeware tool for creating stunning screenshots, with intuitive editing tools for turning them into professional illustrations for your documentation. It’s a great add-on for Help & Manual, but it can also be used as a stand-alone tool for all your screen capture needs. It is completely free for both private and commercial use!
Posted by Alexander Halser on November 19, 2012
We are glad to announce the availability of Help+Manual 6.2 with integrated SubVersion support!
SubVersion now directly supported!
The most important addition to Help & Manual 6.2 is active support for the SubVersion source control system. SubVersion is much more advanced and powerful than the old Microsoft Visual SourceSafe source control system currently supported. It is also free and open source, widely supported, well maintained and has an excellent range of free clients that you can choose from.
While SubVersion is the biggest new feature in 6.2 (aren’t we adding major new features in almost every free minor update?), we also implemented several improvements and fixed a couple of bugs. Most nobable are the changes to VisualStudio Help:
Changes to Visual Studio Help (.mshc format)
- Sandcastle 2.7 now supported!
- First of all, skins must not be used for MSHC! We don’t know why, but the MSHC indexer crashed on Premium Pack skins. It is probably the UA meta tag that confuses it, but this is beyond our scope. The Premium Pack skins are not designed for Visual Studio help and should therefore not be used for this output format.
- Keywords: the MSHC format actually has a 2-level keyword index, although it is not displayed in VS Help. The keyword index is accessible through 3rd-party add-ons only (see http://mshcmigrate.helpmvp.com/news/helpviewerkeywordindexvs2010ext) and otherwise not visible. Nevertheless, we export the regular keywords now as <meta name=”Microsoft.Help.Keywords” content=”my keyword” /> tags. Just in case.
- F1 help: MSHC supports F1 help in Visual Studio. The older HxS format did use keywords for this, so it is very likely that customers who created HxS files before, have inserted keywords for F1 help as regular keywords. H&M now exports either A-keywords as F1 help (if a topic defines A-keywords) or alternatively the regular keywords (if no A-keywords are defined).
- Top-level TOC entries: when a help project contains multiple top-level entries in the TOC, the integration in Visual Studio gets completely messed up. Multiple top-level entries are not an error condition during the export. H&M requires exactly 1 top-level entry in the TOC, all other entries must be grouped under this one.
- Templates and VS integration: To show a topic properly integrated in VS, the <html> tag of the topic must contain an xmlns reference to MSHelp. This reference is automatically inserted during compilation, H&M changes the <html> tag to <html xmlns=”http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml” xmlns:MSHelp=”http://msdn.microsoft.com/mshelp” xmlns:mshelp=”http://msdn.microsoft.com/mshelp”>
Webhelp and HTML Help
- Help+Manual 2 Go: our little local webserver was updated to version 1.1 and includes an “Open HTML file” command in the context menu
- Webhelp TOC inline CSS: for templates that were not updated for HM6, the inline style=”xxx” attribute was written without a blank as separation from the preceding ID attribute.
- Export of selected TOC entries (change): Build tags are applied to selected items as well: implicitly selected children must match the include options, explicitly selected entries are always included
- HTML file names: special characters like ‘È’, ‘É’, ‘Ê’, ‘Ë’ are converted into their base character. ePUB, for instance, does not accept file names with characters outside the ASCII 32-126 range.
- Lines spacing > 100% in bulleted and numbered lists was ignored, when lists were exported as text
- Webhelp: updated version of Zoom highlighter.js script implemented.
- Webhelp search script in PHP: the split() function has been replaced with explode() to work with PHP 5.3.2
- Webhelp: small modifications to the Highlight.js script and to the Topic_init.js script.
- The variable <%TOPIC_DESCRIPTION%> now returns the topic text without the “[object]” placeholder, to improve SEO
PDF user manuals
- Small bug in hyphenation: when the first word in a sentence started with a space, H&M included a leading space to test the word for hyphenation, which led to invalid hyphenation results.
- Embedded files in PDF did not work correctly and the embedded file cannot be found, H&M issues a compile error. Now, the error includes a link to the source topic as well.
- Math symbols are now generalls exported as glyphs to avoid problems with embedded fonts
- Slight baseline offset of numbered lists fixed
- When chapters without text and without any child entries were included, the PDF outlines of siblings were wrong
- Slovak special characters in image captions were not exported correctly (paragraph text worked fine)
- Search path for repositories implemented, repositories can now handle images
- Table styles from repositories were not properly linked to project
- Bugfix when project styles were replaced by styles from a repository. The replacement function did not reset the style properties and the parent, which could have led to strange inheritance artifacts and did create problems with table styles.
General improvements and bug fixes
- Leading and trailing spaces in variables are preserved
- New topic IDs: lowercasing of topic ID suggestions implemented in 6.1 was actually not such a good idea. The lowercased topic IDs are much harder to read in link lists, topic lists and reports. The function has been removed, topic ID suggestions are camel-cased again.
- Command line mode with server licenses: when no license slot was available, H&M popped out a dialog window. Now, the message is written to the command line and H&M terminates with error code 1.
- Program start failed when main window was maximized and the project explorer was hidden.
- Baggage file text editor automatically turns on word-wrap for content with excessive line lengths (> 1020 characters)
- Updated topic editor: this update comes with an improved line break function and solves a rendering problem with soft hyphens, where the print space was not calculated correctly (with some fonts only), when soft hyphens were included.
- When copying and pasting topics in the TOC, new help context numbers are now automatically assigned
- Font dialog and paragraph options dialog: when making changes to a text or paragraph, the style name was removed and completely replaced with modified properties. The modifications are still in place (e.g. no comparison with the original style), the style name, however, is kept.
- Project report: snippets loaded from files or repositories created an error
- Image hotspot editor: when moving multiple hotspots at once with the mouse, the hotspots received an invalid height
- Topic editor now uses a smaller icon to display anchors
- Quick search in task bar: font size is fixed
- BackstageView: when opening the backstage view (File menu), the publish task could not be started with the ENTER key
- New topics dialog, topic templates for new topics: in the dialog, one can select a template for the new topic and the selection is remembered as long as H&M is running. However, if H&M finds a template in the project folder, that is named Default.template.xml, it automatically defaults to this template, unless the user selects a different one.
- Videos: when copying and pasting videos (or dragging them to a new place), the poster image disappeared and the video could no longer be edited.
- Program options: shortcuts now support the modifier key combination SHIFT + ALT and the shortcut toolbar on top of the main window has a new entry: Refresh Topic
- Automatic backup options: backup is not triggered anymore when an OLE container is open (the backup progress window always closes the OLE container), backup is executed less often (a small bug caused the backup function to execute even when there was nothing changed since the last backup).
Version 6.2 is a free update for all 6.x users. Please get the update from our download page: http://www.helpandmanual.com/downloads.html
Posted by tim green on October 2, 2012
If you’re just getting started with Help & Manual or would like to hone your existing H&M skills this course could be just the thing for you.
UA Europe is kicking off the first in a series of new training courses for Help & Manual users from November 20th – 21st in Southhampton, England. The courses will be led by Matthew Ellison, one of the most experienced user assistance and help authoring consultants in Europe. In addition to his consulting work, Matthew also organizes the popular UA Europe conferences for technical writers and help authors.
Although it is designed for beginners and intermediate users, this course can also be very helpful for authors who have been using Help & Manual for a long time. You will probably discover many features you didn’t know about, faster, more efficient ways of performing your authoring tasks and ways to produce better-looking output.
For more information and registration visit the course page here:
Posted by Alexander Halser on September 12, 2012
We are glad to announce the availability of the first beta build for Help+Manual 6.2!
The most important addition to Help & Manual 6.2 is active support for the SubVersion source control system. SubVersion is much more advanced and powerful than the old Microsoft Visual SourceSafe source control system currently supported. It is also free and open source, widely supported, well maintained and has an excellent range of free clients that you can choose from. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Alexander Halser on September 10, 2012
Documentation Insight from DevJet Software is a Delphi and RAD Studio plugin that helps you to document source code. It produces Webhelp, compiled HTML Help and, with the latest 18.104.22.168 update, Help+Manual project files.
Documentation Insight integrates directly into the Delphi/RAD Studio IDE. This is a huge advantage over other source code documentation tools like Microsoft Sandcastle for Visual Studio. It scans your project, whether it is a Win32 application, a DLL or a component suite, builds a documentation skeleton from properties, functions and events.
The Documentation Inspector is a rich text editor to document classes and procedures in place. You put the cursor to a class defined in your source code and the editor window, which as an overlay window or docks into the IDE, updates automatically to that class, function or event that you pointed to. It offers an easy editing layout for standard code documentation. Changes to the documentation are stored directly in the source code.
When you are done with editing, you set the publishing options and start generating the documentation. Though you can tweak the templates, most of the process is automatic and the resulting Webhelp, CHM or HxS file has the look and feel of classic Visual Studio documentation.
There is however, one limitation that has to do with source code documentation in general: formatting is limited and additional topics/chapters that are not directly related to a source code unit are impossible, because the documentation is stored in the source files, where it belongs. The new version of Documenation Insight overcomes this limitation with another publishing format: it generates the documenation in Help+Manual project format. The result doesn’t open in a browser, you can open it directly in Help+Manual, complete and formatted.
You might want to use Help+Manual to edit the project with the environment you are familiar with, before you publish it as Webhelp, compiled help or PDF manual. Or you might want to integrate the source documentation into a larger scope, as part of your application documentation, for internal use. The merge function in Help+Manual can easily integrate a separate project into a master documentation.
Features at a glance:
- WYSIWYG xml documentation editor
- Live Documentation Explorer
- Live Spell Check
- Generates Webhelp
- Generates compiled HTML Help (.chm)
- Generates Microsoft Help V2 file and integrate into RAD Studio Documentation
- Generates Help+Manual files
- Documentation Formatter
- Documentation Validation
- Support most common XML tags
- Support collapsible region to manage documentation
- Synchronization between code and documentation
- Integration with VCL API Documentation
- Integration with Help Insight
- Hyperlink Navigation
- Customizable Region styles
- Several note styles
- Code Snippet editor
Delphi 7, RAD Studio 2007/2009/2010/XE/XE2/XE3
Supported versions of Help+Manual:
Version 5 and 6, Basic, Professional and Server
Documentation Insight 2 (Enterprise Edition) is €249.
Summary from the editor:
Combines the best of source code documentation and external documentation and perfectly integrates into Delphi/RAD Studio as well as Help+Manual.
Posted by tim green on August 2, 2012
We have just released a small maintenance update of Premium Pack 2, version 2.02. New customers will get the new version automatically. All registered users can update with the download link and installation password from their purchase confirmation.
Coming in September: Local iPad Documentation as WebApp
To whet your appetite: When we return from vacation at the beginning of September the iPad skin is going to get a major update with a new WebApp option. This means that you will be able to store your iPad documentation directly on the the iPad for offline access, including full support for search, index etc. You just create a shortcut on the iPad home screen and all the content is downloaded automatically. When the iPad is online any new material is downloaded in the background with a progress indicator for the user (browsing can continue normally while this is happening).
Changes in Premium Pack 2.02:
- Spaces in paths in permalinks
Some stubborn browsers like Safari do not automatically correct spaces in invalid path names to %20. The permalink scripts now do this automatically. (WebHelp)
- Relative links to HTML files in WebHelp
Relative links to external HTML files in WebHelp topics did not open in an external window if this was specified in the link in the topic. (WebHelp)
- Toggle jump with toggles inside a table
If toggles were inside a table links to anchors in toggles inside the table would sometimes open the first toggle in the table instead of the correct toggle. (WebHelp and CHM)
- Header backgrounds in CHM skins
In some CHM skins the header of the background did not expand enough when very long multi-line topic headings made the header box taller than the background.
- Videos in popups
If you have problems with videos in popups that keep playing when the popup is closed (audio can still be heard) you can now activate an option to kill the video when the popup is closed. There is a new POP_KILLVIDEO configuration variable in the affected skins. Just set this to “true” to automatically kill the background video on closing a popup.
Posted by Alexander Halser on June 27, 2012
We are glad to announce the release of Help+Manual 6.1.0, a free update for all customers who already purchased version 6! This update is all about “search” … a new search panel in the main window and search engine optimization.
The first change is obvious, although it is an unobstrusive new feature: a search entry field in the status bar of the main window, that searches program functions and data, like Windows does in the Start menu. Just give it a try and you will wonder how you could ever do without it!
SEO with Help+Manuals Webhelp
The second set of changes and new features improves search engine visibility of Help+Manuals Webhelp output. We made a lot of changes with version 6 already, now we are going to fine-tune them. Let’s have a closer look…
- Topic title entry field in the topic options panel: this entry field is normally synchronized when you make changes to the TOC or to the (formatted) topic header. But necessary, it can be manually edited. The content of this field typically goes into the <TITLE> tag of the HTML page. Google displays the title tag as the caption of the search result, but only the first 65 characters. To make this limit obvious, the topic title entry field changes its color to red, when the title exceeds this limit. An easy way to check your topic titles for SEO compatibility!
- New variables for topic templates: if the content of your documentation is not English, you will appreciate the new variable <%XMLLANG%>, which returns the language of the help project, to include it into the topic template. More importantly, there is a new variable for the description meta tag: <%TOPIC_DESCRIPTION%>. This variable returns the HTML encoded plain text content of your topic and includes the first 1-2 paragraphs. Minium 50 characters, maximum 180 characters, truncated properly after the last word with an elipsis.
- Sitemaps: the optional sitemap, that Help+Manual creates with the Webhelp output, no longer includes the navigation pages (TOC, index, search). Instead, it contains a complete list of all topics. We strongly recommend to use the sitemap feature, if you publish your documentation on your website.
- Image titles and captions: all images and image toggles have both, a caption and an optional title attribute. For better search engine visibility, we changed the rules and prefer the image caption for the title attribute, if available. This generates a more appropriate description when a screenshot from your documentation shows up in Google image search.
More new features…
- Custom word list for the automatic hyphenation in PDF and print: the spell checker configuration dialog has a new option for a custom hyphenation word list. You can define your own hyphenation rules for certain words including phrases and names that you do not want to be hyphenated.
- Project report: new filter options to find topics with include option “None” (e.g. topics that are used as snippets).
- Resizable lightboxes: image toggles, when displayed in lightboxes, now don’t expand to their original size, if the browser (or help) window is too small. The lightbox increases and reduces its size dynamically, when the window gets resized. In other words: we do it like Facebook handles images.
- HTML code objects: when inserting HTML code in topics, a #MERGE command enables merging of external HTML files and snippets. The question, whether the merged HTML code gets its own <p> or <div> tag or is a paragraph on its own, was determined before the HTML code got merged. This has been modified, so that it properly works with external code as well. Furthermore, the HTML #merge command takes the encoding of the external file into account and converts it properly (UTF8 vs. ANSI).
- Table and figure counters: we have introduced table and figure counters with version 6, now they have been extended – you can have as many counters as you want and there is an additional reset option. More about counters here.
- Webhelp full text search: when using the full version of the Zoom indexer instead of the built-in command line version, you can specify a custom configuration file for the indexer. This setting now handles variables for better automation.
- The default topic (that one that opens automatically, when you open the help file) now supports variables.
- User interface: a new Close All command is available on the quick access toolbar.
This update also includes several minor bug fixes. None of these bugs was severe, but we recommend to update.
- Recent files dialog was slow when it contained links to files on disconnected drives
- Multi-monitor configuration: negative screen coordinates caused H&M to start on the main monitor again next time.
- HXS (Visual Studio help) registration problem fixed
- Videos in lighboxes: if the poster image contained a space, it was not correctly displayed
- Repositories: invalid bindings caused an access violation when closing H&M
- Problem with modifying and publishing bulleted lists on Chinese Windows XP fixed
- Command line builds with an external variables file: these variables were treated as text variables, now they keep their project defined setting as text/HTML variables
- PDF export: automatic hyphenation for Russian texts within conditional defines fixed. Image hotspots in PDF were not properly aligned when the image had a caption and was scaled.
- Right-to-left languages: indentation of bullet lists was wrong, TOC icons glitch in Webhelp fixed.
- Dropdown toggles are tested for errors during export. If the toggle body is missing for some reason, you’ll see this in the compiler report.
- Russian Winhelp projects did not import correctly
- Minor CSS changes to standard templates
- Our mini webserver HM2Go did not serve UTF8 encoded HTML files on Chinese Windows systems.
- UI glitches in Insert Video dialog box fixed
- Webhelp: cursor over chapter icons changed to hand pointer
- Webhelp: GA tracking did not work correctly for topics
- Built-in screen capture: on Win7, some fixed-sized dialog windows were not correctly framed
Lots of news… It’s really time to write a more detailed article on how you can take advantage of all the search engine optimization with your own Webhelp content. Most of the modifications work automatically, but some need to implementated per project. Stay tuned – you will read it in this blog!
Download Help+Manual 6.1.0:
Posted by Alexander Halser on June 20, 2012
SERVICE&MORE is a service provider to medium-sized interior design consultancies and furniture retailers who, through 2 purchasing associations, looks after more than 230 members all over Austria.
SERVICE&MORE’s extensive range of services is what predominantly sets them apart. Besides the centralized purchasing of furniture and interior décor, they also support most small and middle-sized companies in their core competencies. SERVICE&MORE provides not only service, marketing and business management, but also a diverse range of specialized services, including an extensive training program with an e-learning platform.
Assimilated process documentation
The sheer amount of information in a company makes nowadays makes it necessary to document the internal processes and procedures. What used to be depicted in Word documents, Excel sheets and HTML sites should now all be consolidated and managed centrally by two employees. Therefore, the first particular challenge was to enable a seamless integration with the internal Content Management System. The second important task was to restructure the documentation procedure in order to avoid repeating content that appears several times – quality management, also for internal documentation. The last but most important task was to make a complex system user friendly with no teething problems – simple for even those employees whose main occupation doesn’t deal with documentation.
Close collaboration with the creator of the CMS
The people who were responsible became quickly convinced by the user friendliness of Help & Manual because it made it easier for the users to concentrate on writing the content. But could the program be incorporated into the current Content Management System?
This concern was successfully addressed with “Webhelp” and the PDF Export from Help & Manual. The company’s internal CMS is a customer specific solution which delivers database driven contents, as well as, static documents (HTML sites, PDF and Word data, spreadsheets, etc.) via the internal browser network. It succeeded in achieving a space in CMS for the extensive HTML documentation to be completely incorporated into the general layout of the intranet.
Re-use of existing content
Even internal processes often cross over and parts of a process are then found in other processes. In order to maintain the volume of documentation to a manageable level, these should be consolidated to avoid duplication.
That’s where Help & Manual was able to assist with a highly modular structure of the documentation project. Segments were moved to separate projects and then added again as components into the superior process documentation.
Implementation period: just a few weeks
In summary, we can say that integration was very successful. The software fulfills all of the stipulated technical requirements and, for the employee, all of the visible documentation is seamlessly embedded in the Content Management System.
Whereas projects of this size normally take months to implement, we were able to implement the combination with Help & Manual within just a few weeks – from the completed planning phase to going live; an advantage not to be underestimated.
As a professional partner in the interior design sector, SERVICE&MORE offers medium sized companies everything they need in order to remain successful in the age of mass production providers. With the purchasing associations GARANT-MÖBEL Austria and WOHNUNION, SERVICE&MORE looks after more than 230 furniture retailers and interior designers.
Posted by tim green on June 7, 2012
We are proud to announce the release of the Premium Pack 2 skin pack for Help & Manual 6. It comes with a total of 45 skins and a wealth of new features. In addition to great layouts you get a huge range of powerful functions like auto-generated topic contents menus, permalink and user feedback tools, print preview and more. Visit the announcement page for full details and video demos.
Dedicated skins for WebHelp, CHM, Smartphones and iPad
The new skins are very mature, with separate skins for different outputs. You now have separate skins for WebHelp, CHM output, Smartphphones (iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7 and BlackBerry OS6+) and the Apple iPad. See further below for screenshots.
WebHelp skins with toolbar and tabbed browsing (14 skins)
The new WebHelp skins are actually a complete user interface for accessing documentation on the Web. They introduce a toolbar for quick access to all functions, tabbed browsing with the ability to undock tabs and park topics in tabs, and customizable drop-down menus for integration in your website. You can configure automatic redirects to take mobile devices to your smartphone version.
Smartphone skins for delivering mobile help (8 skins)
The smartphone skins provide an intuitive touch interface with support for tap, swiping and pinch to zoom. Images are resized automatically to fit the screen. You can swipe to switch between the Contents and topics or use the toolbar. You can define “tap tables” for displaying large-format content in scrollable overlays that can be displayed or hidden with a single tap. Automatic redirects for desktop browsers are available.
CHM skins for efficient Windows application help (8 skins)
The CHM skins make efficient use of the limited available space in the topic header by putting access to functions in drop-down menus. The new “file link fixer” feature makes it possible to link to external files with relative paths. These links now just work.
Dedicated iPad skin
This skin provides a slick iPad style interface with smooth single-finger scrolling regions. It’s a great way to deliver web-based documentation for iPad access. Here too, you can configure automatic redirects for other devices.
Visit the announcement page for full details and video demos.