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H+M command line syntax

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This syntax guide for the main Help+Manual program is a quick reference for users familiar with using the Windows command line. For detailed instructions see the other topics in this chapter.

Paths in the command line

The syntax examples all assume that you are entering the command lines in the Help+Manual program directory, which is normally C:\Program Files\EC Software\HelpAndManual8. To get the same effect you can also add the Help+Manual program directory to your Windows PATH weblink environment variable so that you can use the HELPMAN.EXE file without adding a path to it.

When you do this you must only enter a path for the project file argument (project.hmxz in the syntax guide). All the other file name arguments automatically use this path so you don't need to enter a path for them if they are stored in the project directory. You must enter path information for all files stored in any other location. You can use relative paths if you want – they are then relative to the project directory.


Help+Manual (helpman.exe) command line syntax:

HELPMAN.EXE "<Path>\project.hmxz" /<format> /<other switches> ...

Always enclose all paths and filenames containing spaces in quotes.


Single option, use once only

The Help+Manual program file.


Single option, use once once only

The path to the project file, e.g. "F:\Projects\Help Project\project.hmx". Always enclose this and the project file name in quotes if they contain spaces. This path is used automatically for all other file arguments for which you do not enter paths.

project.hmxz /

Single option, use once only

The project file you want to open. This must always come directly after the Help+Manual program file name.


Multiple option, use once per output format, followed by the local options for that output

The output format switch. This must always be the first switch entered after the project file name. The other switches listed below can be used in any order but they must come after the output format switch.


/CHM (HTML Help)

/HTML (WebHelp)

/HXS (VS Help 2008 / MS Help 2.0 and VS Help 2010 / MS Help 3.0)

/PDF (Adobe PDF)


/EPUB (iBooks/ePUB eBook)

/MOBI (Amazon Kindle Mobi eBook)

/EBOOK (eWriter Help) OR
/EXE (eWriter Help)

eWriter Help:

eWriter Help files are created with an integrated viewer if you use the .exe extension and as a book only if you use any other extension. For clarity, you should always specify the output file name and extension for this format in your batch jobs. See here.




  /EXE="F:\Final Build\testproject.ewriter"

Visual Studio Help:

There is just one switch for both formats (.HXS and .MSHC). Which format is generated depends on the file extension you specify for the output file (.hxs or .mxhc).

Output file name and path:

You can also specify the output file name and path. If you don't specify it, the values used when you last published to the specified format will be used.



  /HTML="F:\Final Build\index.html"

/I=<include options>

Local option, use once per output format option, after the format option.


Always use this if your project uses format-based build options!

Corresponds to the include options set in the Make Help File & Run dialog. User-defined options are also supported. Use upper case only, separate options with commas and don't type any spaces between individual options.

If you don't specify the /I switch the program will use the last include options used when you last published to the specified format.

Important: These options do not select the output format!

Format include options:

ALL All builds and user-defined options "true".


HTML (WebHelp)

HXS (VS Help 2008 / MS Help 2.0 and

        VS Help 2010 / MS Help 3.0)

PDF (Adobe PDF)


EBOOK (Windows Exe or ePUB eBook)




You should always use this switch to specify the valid output format if your project uses format based build options (conditional text or TOC include options). Otherwise the build options may not work correctly!

For the same reason, when you use the /I switch you should also always include the format you are exporting to.

You can use your user-defined include options in exactly the same way as the format include options.

/E=<exclude options>

Local option, use once per output format option, after the format option.

Can be used on its own or in combination with and after the /I= include switch, to negate individual options.

This is the reversed version of the /I= include switch. It excludes content tagged with the specified build options instead of including it.


The /E= switch negates any existing includes set with the /I= switch, overriding all other switches for the affected content. This is useful if you want to exclude some individual items that have multiple build options applied.

For example, suppose you have multiple topics tagged with CLIENTA and some of those topics are also tagged with BETA. To include all the CLIENTA content that are not also tagged with BETA you would use this switch combination:



This will exclude all content tagged with the BETA build, no matter what other build options are included.

/TOC=<TOC Name>

Selects the TOC to be used for publishing in projects in which multiple TOCs have been defined.

IMPORTANT: Can only be used once in a single command line, because your output can only use one TOC.

Syntax example:

/TOC="Demo Version TOC"

Note the quotes around TOC names containing spaces!


Special option to execute a publishing task. Can be used multiple times in a single command line to execute multiple tasks.

For better clarity use on its own command line within a batch file not combined with other switches.

HELPMAN.EXE + Project + /TSK + /TSK..

Call a publishing task defined in your project. Syntax:

/TSK="Task Name:Action Name"

If you only enter the task name on its own (no : character!) all the actions in the task will be executed. If you include an action name separated by the : character only that action will be executed.

To execute multiple tasks or actions use /TSK= multiple times in the command line with one task or task+action per instance.

Copy and paste the task and action names from File > Publish > Task Manager.

Use the "Generate Publish Batch File" in the Task Manager to generate examples.


Local option, can only be used once per output format option, after the format option.

Use skins with the /O= switch if you want to apply multiple files for redefining variables to the same output. To redefine variables only with skins the skins should be saved with variables only.

Redefines some or all of the variables in your project with a list of variables in an external text file. You do not need to enter a path if the file is stored in the project directory. Use quotes if the path or filename contain spaces.

Data file format:

TITLE=Widget Editor V2.8

EDITORS=John and Jane Doe

COPYRIGHT=Widgets Inc., all rights reserved

One line per definition, no quotes, no spaces on either side of the = sign.

Command line usage examples:


/V="F:\Data Sources\variables.txt"


Local option, can be used multiple times per output format option, after the format option. The last file used has priority.

Apply a project skin to the project when publishing. Enter the name of the .hmskin file for the filename argument.

Overwrites all variables, settings and HTML templates in the project with those defined in the skin file. You can use this switch multiple times, specifying multiple skins. If the same attributes are defined in more than one skin the last skin in the command line always has priority.

Note that the use of .hmskin skins is intended for HTML output only. If you use them for other output formats you will only get the settings that can actually be edited in them in Help+Manual.


Local option, use once per output format option, after the format option

Only includes topics and chapters with the status "complete" in your published output. All topics with any other status are excluded. Only the status "complete" is supported for this switch.


Local option, use once per output format option, after the format option

Specifies the name of the PDF or DOCX template file. Include the path and use quotes if the path or file name contain spaces. Only supported for PDF and DOCX output.  You do not need to enter a path if the file is stored in the project directory.

If you don't specify this switch the program uses the template selected for PDF or DOCX in your publishing options.


Deprecated as of version 5.3, no longer has any effect.

In earlier versions this switch left Help+Manual open after publishing was completed. As of version 5.3 only a console is opened in command line mode, the main program is never opened and so this switch is deprecated. Using it will not cause an error, but it also won't do anything.


Global option, insert after the first format option for which you wish it to apply

Don't delete the temporary source directories and files generated when publishing HTML Help, Apple iBooks®/ePUB, Kindle/Mobi, EWRiter and Visual Studio Help.

/L=<compiler log file>

Global option, insert after the first format option for which you wish it to apply

Outputs the compiler log to the specified text file. If you don't enter a path the file is stored in the project directory. Use quotes if the path or filename contain spaces.

If you use multiple output format options or .INI files you can enter this switch after the last output format switch to log the error messages for all output formats.

If you do not use this switch no log will be written, even if errors occur. If you want to see the errors you must either include a pause command in your batch to keep the console open or specify a log file with /L.


Global option. Must be the SECOND command line parameter, directly after the project file reference.

Directs command output to STDOUT instead of creating a new console.

Should only be used in batch files.


Global option, use once per command line after all the format options

Display a message window before outputting showing the batch commands and whether they have been recognized properly. Use for troubleshooting if your command line doesn't work as expected.

Warning: Don't use /debug in normal batch build processes. It opens a modal window and will interrupt the automated process.