- Help & Manual
- Buy Now
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.
Posted by Alexander Halser on June 5, 2012
Quite a few Help & Manual users have asked about options for integrating WordPress with Help & Manual output. Marc Beneteau of WordPress Academy has now responded to these requests with a third-party WordPress plugin that integrates WebHelp using the Premium Pack skins with WordPress membership sites.
The plugin is primarily designed for authors and vendors who need to provide paid access to information online. You can maintain your content with Help & Manual and use the features of WordPress membership sites for providing paid access. You can see it in action in Marc’s own implementation on his WordPress Academy site here:
The plugin does not require any changes to the Help & Manual skins, projects or output. You just put your HM WebHelp content online, and the plugin pulls it into your WordPress site.
Write to Marc Beneteau at email@example.com for more information on the plugin and have a look at the main WordPress Academy website at http://wpacademy.tv/.
Posted by Alexander Halser on March 28, 2012
Users of the Help & Manual Premium Pack for Help & Manual 6 can now download the 1.52 maintenance update. This update adds two small new features and corrects a number of isolated issues that were reported by some users.
- Topic title in browser title bar. The title of the current topic is automatically displayed in the browser title bar together with the name of the project (WebHelp only).
- Accented characters in sortable tables. You can now set sortable tables to sort text containing accented characters correctly. This can be turned off for languages that sort accented characters after Z.
Fixes have been implemented for better handling of very large sortable tables and topics containing a very large number of expanding text toggles. Printing topics from WebHelp in Internet Explorer has been improved and some CSS improvements have been added for Internet Explorer 9 in both standard and compatibility mode. Microsoft’s standard warning banner is now displayed when help is opened using Internet Explorer 6.
Posted by Alexander Halser on March 12, 2012
Help+Manual 6.0.3 is available as a regular maintenance update from our download page. This update mostly deals with minor glitches, but several small UI improvements have been implemented as well. We recommend to update to version 6.0.3!
Detailed list of changes and modifications: Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Alexander Halser on March 6, 2012
Marc Achtelig from Indoition has written a detailed review of Help+Manual 6 and compares it to RoboHelp and MadCap Flare. Read the full article in tcworld e-magazine!
Help & Manual remains the most pragmatic and flexible among Help authoring tools even with the new version. The online Help and the electronic media generated leave almost no wish unanswered.
Posted by Alexander Halser on January 24, 2012
Registration is open for the 2012 Conference for Software User Assistance in Memphis, Tennessee!
The focus of the Conference for Software User Assistance is on developing the best possible user experience for all types of software applications through well-designed interfaces and helpful and accessible support information.
Save the date: March 11-14, 2012!
Posted by Alexander Halser on December 31, 2011
This is an urgent maintenance update for Help & Manual 6 that unfortunately affects most HM6 customers: when you start Help & Manual 6 on December 31 or later, it might start as an evaluation version and say that the evaluation period has expired. Re-entering your registration information does not help. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Alexander Halser on December 15, 2011
Technical documentation, online help and manuals are increasingly distributed as HTML on CD or DVD, or installed locally together with the software. The HTML-based “WebHelp” generated by modern documentation tools like Help & Manual, RoboHelp and Doc-to-Help comes with powerful navigation, search and other features and displays in standard web browsers, making it very user-friendly and accessible.
Help & Manual 2 Go is a mini web server that solves this problem: It consists of a single 1.7MB file that contains everything needed to serve a complete WebHelp system to the local browser – even when opened from optical media. The browser sees a normal web server and behaves accordingly, opening the WebHelp with full functionality. You just need to store the HM2GO.EXE file on the CD or install it along with your software and start it together with the WebHelp documentation.
Users then get all the benefits of full-featured interactive WebHelp locally in their standard browsers, instead of laboriously searching through PDF files or putting up with the creaky and ancient interface of the HTML Help CHM viewer. Featuring intelligent caching, the mini server is just as fast, or even faster, than loading the HTML files directly from the hard disk or CD.
Help & Manual 2 Go runs on all versions of Windows from Windows 2000 and higher and is available as a completely free download. The license expressly permits distribution as long as no charge is made, also with commercial software. Help & Manual 2 Go works with the WebHelp systems of all known help authoring and documentation tools.
You can download Help & Manual 2 Go here: