Help+Manual News

Archive for category WebHelp

HelpXplain Animated Infographics Beta Program

Try out HelpXplain now by joining the beta program

HelpXplain is an exciting new program from EC Software that takes the pain out of making HowTo tutorials and other animated infographics for the web. You can see some examples and join the beta program here:

http://helpxplain.com/

HelpXplain takes the pain out of making HowTo tutorials

HelpXplain can make a whole range of different web-based infographics, but for documentation authors its ability to make animated HowTo tutorials is nothing short of revolutionary. Instead of trying to get every step of a “performance” right you just make a series of screenshots that the program then links together in an editable screencast with an animated, editable mouse cursor. Let me put what this means this into perspective from the point of view of a documentation author.

From typewriter to word processor

I’ve been working with HelpXplain for a while now while writing the help for it. For me as a help author there is one aspect of it that stands out from all the others. It reminds me of the huge aha experience I had the very first time I saw a word processor. The one thought I had was: “I am never going to have to retype anything ever again.” That was huge. For writers of all kinds, it is still 99.9% percent of the benefit of using a word processor instead of a typewriter. Everything else that modern writing tools do is nice to have, but all those additional functions are still nothing compared to the ability to edit and change your text without retyping everything.

From video screencasts to HelpXplain

HelpXplain is the first time that I have had a similar experience as a documentation author. It is really comparable. Like everyone else, I experimented with using video screencast tools like Camtasia and Captivate. Like everyone else outside of very large, very rich companies, I abandoned them very quickly. They only make sense if you have a huge amount of time to work on little video tutorials, and if someone is willing to pay you a reasonable hourly rate for that time. Both of those things are simply unrealistic expectations for most technical writers working in today’s market. It just doesn’t happen. You’re not going to have that much time to work on a tutorial, and even if you do nobody is going to pay you for it.

Video: When you had to do it just right

But that’s not the only problem with video screencast tools: They are very stressful and thus unpleasant to work with, because you have to get everything right. If you make a mistake while making the video you have to start again. And again. And again. And again. And if you ever need to add something you have to remake the entire screencast. Again. I found this so unpleasant that I would do pretty much anything to avoid having to make video tutorials even if I did have the time and reasonable payment for them. To be honest, I would probably even pay to not have to make them.

HelpXplain: Work at your own speed, correct later at leisure

That is why HelpXplain is such a revelation for me, personally, quite separate from the fact that this is an EC Software product. Once you get the hang of it, making little HowTo tutorials is literally as easy as making a series of screenshots — which is what we are doing anyway. And it is completely stress-free: I don’t have to get my timing right and I don’t have to worry about needing to set up everything right. Between screenshots I can take my time to make any changes I want in the program. And not only that: If I ever need to change or add something I can do that at any time, without having to redo the whole thing.


HelpXplain New Dialog

There is no doubt that making tutorials with HelpXplain is radically faster and more pleasant than struggling with a video screencast tool. In fact, for myself, I could say that it is infinitely faster, because with HelpXplain I am actually making the tutorials, whereas with video screencast tools I wouldn’t be making them at all. Not in the real world.

HelpXplain can do a lot more. But if you’re a documentation author, taking the pain out of making HowTo tutorials for documentation simply makes it a must-have.

Tim Green

No Comments

eWriter 1.2 released – Free HTML-to-eBook Converter

eWriter is a converter application to turn HTML pages into a self-contained Windows executable. This output format is completely integrated into Help+Manual as eWriter eBooks. The eWriter converter application is the free stand-alone version.

About eWriter

eWriter creates portable websites in a single compact Windows file with an integrated server and viewer. eWriter “books” can be viewed on any Windows device, even on old and outdated versions of Windows. They support direct contextual references from your applications to display specific pages and to scroll to anchors on your pages. Unlike a normal website, repeated calls to an eWriter book will all open in the same window.

How to create an eBook with eWriter

This version 1.2 update now includes the option to create data-only eBooks that can be opened with a separate viewer – similar to the functionality in Help+Manual.

Download

You can download eWriter stand-alone edition directly from our website:

https://www.helpandmanual.com/ewriter.html

 

,

No Comments

Premium Pack 3.45 Update

Version 3.45 of the Help+Manual Premium Pack add-on adds a new set of V3 WebHelp and EWriter skins using the popular Samurai Red color theme and corrects some minor issues.

How to Get the Premium Pack Update:

You can download and install the updated version with the credentials you received when you purchased. 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 Samurai Red Skins

Changes and Fixes

More information

See the Premium Pack information page for general details and purchase information and the Premium Pack web-based documentation for full instructions.

No Comments

Premium Pack 3.42/3.43 Maintenance Update

Versions 3.42/3.43 of the Help+Manual Premium Pack add-on is primarily a maintenance update. It is recommended for all Premium Pack users because it corrects several small but potentially annoying issues.

How to Get the Premium Pack Update:

You can download and install the updated version with the credentials you received when you purchased. 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.

3.43 Additional Corrections

V3 Skins Maintenance Update

Extended support for the full version of the Zoom web search indexer

More information

See the Premium Pack information page for general details and purchase information and the Premium Pack web-based documentation for full instructions.

No Comments

Premium Pack 3.40 — SVG Icons Edition

This update to the Help+Manual Premium Pack add-on adds replaceable SVG sprite icons to the user interface. It also adds a few refinements to the V3 skins and the Toolbox utility, tidies up some of the CSS and squashes a couple of small bugs (crunch crunch crunch). It is a recommended update for all Premium Pack users.

How to Get the Premium Pack Update:

SVG Sprite Icons

V3 Skins Maintenance Update

Toolbox utility maintenance update

More information

See the Premium Pack information page for general details and purchase information and the Premium Pack web-based documentation for full instructions.

No Comments

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

 

,

No Comments

Help+Manual 7.2 Maintenance Update

We are glad to announce the release of Help+Manual 7.2 ! After v7.1 earlier this year, this update is another big “minor” update that is free for all 7.xx users. Plus, there is an important update for the Premium Pack to version 3.20!

XSS vulnerability in Webhelp fixed

Version 7.2 fixes an XSS vulnerability in Help+Manual’s Webhelp output (standard skins only). It was possible to inject arbitrary Javascript commands by creating a fake url that pointed to a Webhelp system. Premium Pack skins were not affected by this problem. We strongly recommend to update your version and re-publish any Webhelp output that is placed on a public web server.

New features and modifications

  • The Keyword Index Tool (available in Pro/Server only) has an XML export and import function.
  • PDF/manual designer: the options page for the PDF keyword index contains a new setting “Avoid duplicate page numbers in Index”. This option is on by default and will avoid printing the same page number multiple times if the same keyword occurs in two or more consecutive topics that happen to start on the same PDF page.
  • Program Options: configuration setting for temporary compiler files (CHM, eBooks) implemented. This can improve compilation speed when the help project is located on a server share with a slow connection.
  • Projects saved in Dropbox are now permitted (uncompressed HMXP projects are opened read-only, compressed HMXZ projects are editable with warning).
  • Webhelp/CHM/eBooks: when doing a HTML-based export, H&M checks for duplicate IDs (anchors, image, table, toggle, videos) and reports a duplicate ID in the compiler log. Also implemented: <p> tags with “Normal” style now have a dedicated class name.
  • Project Report / Styles Report: this report always reported code examples as individually formatted text (they of course are). Now, the “Code Example” style is reported as individual formatting only if there are more changes than font color and font style (bold/italic/underline). Other styles are reported as individual formatting if there are more changes than just the font style (bold/italic/underline).
  • Improved multí-monitor handling: Dialog windows are positioned relative to the main window – this improves multiple instances on different monitors. Please note that after the switch to version 7.2, the initial dialog window positions might be wrong on your computer because of this change. This automatically fixes itself when the dialog windows are repositioned.
  • Replace images with copy & paste: when the editor selection marks exactly 1 image or toggle image and you hit CTRL+V or click Paste, H&M asks to replace the picture and saves it under the original file name. This makes it easier to update screenshots with copy & paste, for all properties of the image (caption, zoom, tags, hotspots, etc) are kept intact.
  • Spelling check: updated format of OpenOffice 4 spell checker dictionaries is supported.
  • Topic options: the drop-down field for the topic anchor (available for TOC items) can now be manually edited, it is possible to enter a non-existing anchor. If a TOC entry points to a non-existing anchor, the topic anchor field shows a red background to indicate the missing anchor.
  • PDF/print: word break options for slashes and backslashes / \ were changed – the slash and backslash does no longer permit a break after. Example: this line does/not break after “does/”.
  • ePUB cover images: IPP images are now supported as ePUB cover images. If an IPP image contains text objects (text, callouts, buttons) with variables, the variables are replaced and the image is repainted before it gets exported.
  • TidyXML: the XML topic parser is prepared for reading a more compact and more translation-friendly XML format that we are going to implement in the next update after 7.2. More on this new feature in a later post on this blog!
  • Windows EXE eBooks: plenty of new features!

New features in EWriter eBooks

H&M’s output format “EWriter eBooks” (self-executable eBooks for Windows) is getting more and more popular as a replacement format for CHM files. We have implemented new features to make it more flexible:

  • Separate viewer and data files: Help+Manual can optionally output the eBook data and the executable viewer separately. If a help system consists of several books, this saves space and makes it easier to update the data.
  • The eBook viewer has larger menu button and larger icons for systems with 120, 144 and 192 dpi. The buttons switch automatically on high-resolution monitors.
  • New shortcut: CTRL+0 changes zoom back to 100%.
  • The default extension for topic file names was always “.htm”. Now the eBooks take the default extension from the Webhelp configuration.
  • eBook menu configuration: when entering a new entry and changing it to “Menu Divider”, the entry kept its previous caption, which resulted in a menu text in the final EXE eBook, not a divider.

Bug fixes

  • Webhelp standard skins: XXS vulnerability fixed
  • Find & Replace: partial replacement of images names could run into an endless loop.
  • PDF: page referrer icons were too large on Windows systems > 96 dpi. Furthermore, the page icon is now tied to the preceeding text link and cannot accidentially break to a new line.
  • PDF: when a nested snippet was used inside a snippet that was placed on a hard-coded manual page, the nested snippet used style mode “Screen” and not style mode “Print”.
  • PDF, table printing: if a table with visible borders was nested within another table, the last cell border at the bottom of inner table was not painted correctly.
  • HTML (all HTML-based publishing formats): if an image with hotspots was placed on a paragraph with hanging indent, the hotspots were set off by the indent.
  • Help context numbers > 2147483647 were not exported to Webhelp and EXE eBooks.
  • Dropdown toggles: if the toggle text/heading was made up of multiple styles, parts of the toggle did not work.
  • Variables in the field <%TOPIC_DESCRIPTION%> were not resolved.
  • Team Foundation Server: H&M now saves the password.
  • Webhelp, full-text search: when compiling Webhelp from the command line with multiple instances of Help+Manual, all running at the same time, it was possible that the full-text seach index was not created.
  • SVG images: text drawing problem with overlapping text fixed.
  • Bugfix in Winhelp (.hlp) import for damaged images, that could crash the import.
  • AuthorIT import: help context numbers were wrong.

Major Premium Pack 3.2 Update

Together with Help+Manual 7.2 we have also released version 3.20 of the Premium Pack add-on. This is a major upgrade with a number of powerful new features and improvements. These include a WordPress plugin, support for Google Web Fonts, advanced support for developers and new ways of displaying tables and images on mobile devices.

Download

Please download the update to Help+Manual 7.2 from our download page and install over your existing installation of Help+Manual.

No Comments

Premium Pack 3 and Help+Manual 7.0.8 Released

We are proud to announce the release of the all-new Premium Pack 3 with advanced responsive skins. This is accompanied by Help+Manual 7.0.8 with new features to support the new skins and a set of demo Premium Pack 3 skins. Help & Manual 7.0.7 or higher is required to use the new responsive skins.

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

Premium Pack 3: Responsive. Fast. Embedded. WebHelp.

A single WebHelp site now works smoothly on desktop, tablet and smartphone browsers, with an optimized user interface for each device type. Even large TOCs and keyword indexes are handled well on smartphones. And browsing has been optimized for lightning-fast topic loading. These skins represent the first iteration of our new online help format, which we call WebHelp 3. This has been made possible by a number of new technologies that we have been working on for the last eighteen months.

Key Features

  • Fully responsive – create one WebHelp site for desktop, tablet and phone browsers
  • Frameless topics – no more index.html layout page, the topic pages are your pages and their names are your URLs
  • Embedded WebHelp – embed your help in existing web pages with a snippet of code like a YouTube video
  • Field-level popups – display formatted popups from your help in your own web pages with simple links
  • Responsive X-tables – add a single setting to data tables to make them reformat automatically on mobile devices
  • Local WebHelp – deploy WebHelp locally without a web browser, even for Google Chrome and Internet Explorer
  • Fast browsing – highly optimized topic loading for extremely fast browsing
  • Scalable – user-adjustable text size for the best possible user experience.

Premium Pack Toolbox Configuration Utility

The Premium Pack now also comes with a configuration utility with direct help for every configuration setting when you select it. This also works with older Premium Pack skins and comes with a large number of additional advanced features for power users. For example, you can add features to skins that are normally only available in your project settings. And you can edit your templates and baggage files directly in your favorite code and graphics editors.

Help+Manual 7.0.8

Help+Manual 7.0.8 comes with a set of demo Premium Pack 3 skins that you can try out, plus support for the new features in the Premium Pack 3 skins. Help+Manual 7.0.7 or higher is required for using the responsive skins in Premium Pack 3.

No Comments

Help+Manual 7.0.6 Maintenance Update

We are glad to announce the release of Help+Manual 7.0.6!

Once more have been the responsive Webhelp skins the focus of our attention. Improvements for display on mobile devices with small screens (iPhones and Android) and extended customization options.

The second focus point was on Windows eBooks in executable format. Windows EXE eBooks now fully support context sensitive help calls, properly display Asian book titles in the header and the status bar on non-Asian Windows versions and have improved support for external PDF links. Unlike CHM files, the eBooks can execute external files with a relative path without problems. What has been added, is the ability to open external PDF files at a particular page. With a regular file link, this is actually not possible. The eBooks query the system for the default application to open a PDF file and start this application explicitely. If the application is recognized (the eBook knows the command line syntax of Adobe Reader, Foxit, PDF X-Change and Sumatra PDF), PDF files will at the page that is optionally specified with the file link.

Changes, bug-fixes and improvements in 7.0.6

  • Windows EXE eBooks: several changes and improvments.
  • Word/DOCX export: minor bug fixes
  • PDF export: when using topic snippets in the manual template, variables in the name are now supported. Feature images in PNG format where unintentionally stretched in the PDF file, now the are proportionally resized to fill the print area.
  • Version control glitch with master/child projects: the child projects sometimes created an additional internal topic history, which is switched off, when a project is under version control.
  • Windows 10: after changing the style of an image, the image caption disappeared.
  • User interface: new shortcuts for the ribbon tabs Write, Table, View and Help. An additional (initially empty) “Insert” tab has been added. You can use this additional tab to move tab groups from other tabs to this one, for better grouping of the commands.
  • Image dropdown gallery: Access violation when ribbon group was minimized
  • Reload topic: when there are pending changes that would be discarded, H&M asks before reloading the topic
  • Program options/Customize: new configuration option to define the replacement character for blanks in topic IDs (default is a hyphen)
  • Impict: change of default font in callouts did not work
  • Webhelp with local video files: for the M4V and MP4 format (which is natively recognized by almost any modern browser), the HTML video tag has been modified to prefer native HTML5 playback. The optional plugin is used as fallback solution.
  • YouTube videos: parameter added to avoid the display of “related videos” when the video ends.
  • Import of CHM and HTML files: bugfix for tables with cells spanning multiple columns
  • Import of CHM files: improved keyword index entries

 

Get the update

If you have installed Help+Manual 7 already, please download and install the 7.0.6 update over your existing installation. The setup will recognize the previous installation and update it accordingly:

http://www.helpandmanual.com/downloads.html?upd

No Comments

Premium Pack 2.72 Maintenance Update

Help & Manual Premium Pack 2 has been updated to version 2.72 for Help & Manual versions 7 and 6. There are bug fixes for the CHM and Smartphone skins and minor corrections for the WebHelp and Classic version 1 skins. In addition to this, Premium Pack 1 for Help & Manual 6 and 7 has been updated to version 1.65 to handle the new popup link format in hotspots in Help & Manual 7 (this update is not needed for Help & Manual 6 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 the Premium Pack. If you no longer have this please contact support@ec-software.com and we will help you out.

Popup links in image hotspots:

Help & Manual 7 has a new format for popup links in image hotspots, which was not identified by the Premium Pack scripts. As a result, the standard HM popups were displayed instead of the Premium Pack’s draggable, resizeable and automatically positioned popups. This has been corrected in the Premium Pack 2 WebHelp and CHM skins and the Premium Pack 1/Classic Dual Mode skins.

Bug fix in the CHM skins

On some high-resolution Windows devices the topic body could sometimes be positioned a little too high so that its top edge was behind the bottom of the topic header.

Bug fixes in the smartphone skins

Changes in the code generated by Help & Manual 7 caused problems with the links in the keyword index and search results. This has been corrected.

A new bug introduced in Apple iOS 9 prevents the slide transition between the TOC and topic panes from working correctly on the iPhone. Instead of sliding, the page would appear to turn away and twist with a strange 3D transition. This has been changed to a fade transition. The slide transition is still used on Android and Windows Phone.

No Comments