Help+Manual News

Happy Anniversary: Help+Manual is 25 Years Old!

Can you believe this? Help+Manual is 25 years old! And we are excited to celebrate this anniversary with you:

25 Years!
25 Days!
25% Discount on all products!

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A brief history of Help+Manual…

1997: The Beginning

It was mid November 1997, when Help+Manual version 1.0 went online. Two weeks later, our website was suspended because we had exceeded the “fair use” traffic limitation of our web host. The version 1 downloads had generated over 20 GB of traffic, which was absolutely massive back then. After a few days of busy reorganization we were back up and running again.


2001: First Milestone

Our breakthrough year came in 2001. Help+Manual 3 was the first help authoring tool that could generate PDF files natively, directly from the source. Printing manuals had been part of the feature set from version 1, but direct PDF export was something completely new and no other competitor was able to do this at this time (not even RoboHelp, which was still owned by Macromedia, before Adobe purchased the company). Version 3 already had variables and conditional text. The release doubled our revenues overnight.

One year later, the Help+Manual user forum went live. The English user forum is still one of the busiest places with over 10.000 users and more than 70.000 postings.

Help+Manual Version 3


2009: XML and Multi-User

The next major changes came with the release of  version 5, in which we switched from a proprietary single-user database format to open XML for all source files.  Making this change smoothly was not easy, because Help+Manual had always been known as a very fast application, and we were determined to maintain that status. After months of experimenting, we finally found an XML parser that was fast enough to handle the task for reading everything from XML. With the new XML project file format, Help+Manual not only became more open (vs. being locked-in with a particular data format), it introduced multi-user editing as well.

Furthermore, version 5 introduced HTML skins for easier Webhelp publishing. This feature led to the development of the Help+Manual Premium Pack add-on.

Help+Manual Version 5


2016: Multiple TOCs, Version Control

Version 7 was released in 2016, with further extension of the original version control support implemented in Help+Manual 6. Other major new features included DOCX export, integration of Sandcastle source code documentation, ePUB 3.0 export and a new import function for AuthorIt project files. This was also the year of in which our eWriter Help format became official: We changed the name of the previous Windows EXE help format to eWriter and released it together with a completely new viewer that could also be used stand-alone.

Help+Manual Version 7


2019: HelpXplain

In the middle of 2019, HelpXplain joined the product portfolio as a kind of “PowerPoint for the Web” and though it is a stand-alone application, it is tightly integrated with Help+Manual. It helps the documentation author to explain multiple steps in a single image or slideshow, respectively.

Why did we develop our own presentation software? To receive the best possible output for every publishing format. HelpXplain presentations are pure HTML, interactive when embedded in an HTML-based output, printed as multiple slides in a PDF user manual. And, of course, translatable.

HelpXplain in Help+Manual


2020: Machine Translation and Plugins

In 2020 DeepL in Cologne had been the rising star among machine translation services for a few years, stunning everyone with the quality of the translations it produced.  When they made an application programming interface available, we implemented machine translation with a plugin. Other new features in version 8 included an equation editor, mini-TOCs and updated screen capture.

In another important innovation, Help+Manual 8 also introduced our new floating license system, which made it possible to use shared licenses from any location instead of being tied to a local network. This turned out to be perfect timing, because soon after the release the pandemic started forcing people to work from home, which the floating licenses helped to make possible.

Help+Manual Version 8


2022: eWriter for Mac, Translation Assistant

In Summer 2022 we published our first MacOS software: eWriter Viewer v3 for Windows and Mac! Three months later, we released our new product Help+Manual Translation Assistant, which had been in the making for quite a while. The Translation Assistant is an important add-on for Help+Manual users who produce documentation in multiple languages. It combines bulk machine translation with DeepL for entire topics, chapters and projects with a 3-pane side-by-side view for the old original, new original and translation, with a WYSIWYG Help+Manual editor in every pane.

eWriter Viewer for Mac

Translation Assistant


Was this the last software release for 2022?

We don’t think so. Stay tuned! You’ll read it in this news feed…


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