HTML templates are used to define the layout of all Help+Manual's HTML-based output formats (HTML Help, WebHelp, eBooks and Visual Studio Help). In topic pages, what you enter in the editor defines the content, the templates define the framework in which your content is presented. The HTML templates are stored together with your project.
The same HTML topic page templates are used for the topic pages in all three formats. In addition to this there are also separate templates for the frameset file and the Table of Contents and Keyword Index frames used in WebHelp, where they emulate the HTML Help viewer user interface.
For normal work with Help+Manual you don't have to think about what HTML templates contain and how to edit them. That is all handled in the background by the program. A simple style editor is provided that allows you to modify the basic layout of your pages in the associated output formats without having to edit the HTML code directly.
Nowadays you will almost always choose an HTML skin to publish your project to WebHelp or HTML Help/CHM. A skin is a special kind of Help+Manual project without topics that only stores your HTML templates and all the settings relevant for HTML output to these two formats. When you choose a skin, the templates and settings in the skin completely replace those in your project.
Normally, a skin is pre-designed and you don't need to change anything. However, if you do want to change something, you must do all your editing in the .hmskin skin file. Editing in your Help+Manual project won't have any effect because those templates and settings are not used.
To edit a skin, make a copy of the .hmskin skin file in your project folder and then open it in Help+Manual by selecting .hmskin as the file type to open in the Open dialog. All the templates and settings are in the same places as in a normal Help+Manual project.
Exception: HTML Export Options
The HTML Export Options section is not stored in skins and needs to be edited in your project.
For everyday work you can adjust the settings of your HTML templates just as you would adjust any of the other output settings in your Project Configuration settings. The simple style editor hides the HTML code with a point-and-click interface.
The HTML topic page template:
In most projects and skins there is just one HTML topic page template called Default, which is assigned to all new topics automatically. It can be viewed and edited in the Configuration section of your project or skin in the Project Explorer, in Configuration > HTML Page Templates, where you can also create new templates.
Among other things, the HTML topic page template defines the background colors of your topic and topic header in HTML-based output formats and the Top, Previous and Next navigation links displayed in the topic header in these formats.
The Simple Template Layout tab provides most of the functions you will normally need, see this topic for some basic instructions. This tab is disabled when code in the Source Code tab has been edited.
The HTML Source Code tab allows you to edit all the source code of the template and even completely replace it with your own code.
Disabled Simple Layout tab:
The HTML templates for WebHelp components:
There are also additional HTML templates for WebHelp, which define the layout frameset, TOC, Search, and Index components of the WebHelp user interface. These are accessed in Configuration > Publishing Options > WebHelp. See HTML Output and HTML Templates for full details.
The background colors of topics and headers are set in the HTML page template for all HTML-based formats. Background colors are not used in DOCX, PDF and printed manuals. Here too, the backgrounds are defined in your project if you are not using a skin and in the .hmskin skin file if you are.
See Background colors and help viewers for details on how to set the background colors in the HTML page template.
If you are familiar with writing HTML, Help+Manual's HTML templates are a very powerful tool that gives you a great deal of control over the appearance of your output pages in all HTML-based formats.
If you feel like getting under the hood and finding out what you can do with HTML templates, have a look at the HTML Output and HTML Templates chapter in the More Advanced Procedures section.