Help+Manual News

Archive for category HelpXplain

HelpXplain 1.0.3 and Help+Manual 7.5.2 Updates

We are glad to announce two updates for both, HelpXplain and Help+Manual. The latter includes two small bugfixes, HelpXplain comes with new translation functions.

HelpXplain 1.0.3

  • This update has a dedicated Translation tab added to the File menu. The translation tab features an XLIFF export and import for external translations. In the Properties section, a Language option has been added (the language setting is required for XLIFF).
  • Another new feature related to translation is that player skins have an option to load translations from an external text file. Player skins may contain translatable text like “Play”, “Pause”, “Previous/next slide”. English, German and French translations are included.
  • New Slide menu: we’ve added a screencast option here. It was already possible to add a screencast to an existing Xplain. However, many users could not find this function. It’s now placed in the Slide menu for better visibility.
  • Bugfix object link: the option “go to website” could not be selected
  • Bugfix screencast: when adding spotligths to a new screencast, the spotlight was in the wrong place if the screencast layout was text-left or text-right.
  • Bugfix group/ungroup: z-index of objects sometimes wrong
  • Bugfix: when the slide list was selected, copy to clipboard and cut to clipboard did not work
  • Bugfix: the zoom slider was wrong on high-res monitors and the [-] button did not work as a result
  • Update build 1090: the command line compiler for Help+Manual could not export Xplains that were currently being edited in HelpXplain.

 

Help+Manual 7.5.2

The changes made in this update of Help+Manual are really minor. It includes two small problem fixes:

  • Bugfix in table selection: copy/paste was sometimes confused and when converting selected text (e.g. a link) in a table cell to plain text, the entire table cell was converted.
  • Word/RTF Import: in some rare cases, an image was considered a duplicate when in fact it was not duplicate

Download

Both are free updates if included in your maintenance plan! Please download the update(s) and install it over your existing version.

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HelpXplain 1.0.2 Feature Update

We are glad to announce the first feature update for HelpXplain. This update implements several bug fixes and two completely new features.

Pause after Animation

Object animations now have an optional pause field, in addition to duration and delay. This pause field is of special interest for cursor animations, that are played before a slide advances to the next (a typical situation for screencasts). Normally, when the slide advances to the next, you see the cursor move, then click. And right after the click animation, the slide changes. If you have set a slide transition that visually pans from one slide to another, it could be distracting, so that the cursor click animation is not really recognized. That’s exactly what the pause is for: the animation pauses after it has been played and before the next thing happens (another animation or a slide transition).

Animated Spotlights

Animated spotlights are a pretty cool new feature that work tremendously well for explaining larger screenshots. We’ve published an example Xplain in the last news post – please check it out if you haven’t seen it.

Additional Animations

The animated spotlights come with 5 new animations that were implemented for spotlight objects in particular. Spotlights can zoom in or out, they can move and change their size, they can be chained together or you may choose to combine them with an animated cursor object, which the spotlight follows.

Furthermore, we have implemented a new animation for texts: a counter animation that implements a visual counter that runs from [start value] to [end value].

Extended Style Settings

HelpXplain has global style settings that define the defaults for all objects in a particular project. You set the fill and outline for shapes, line options for arrows, font sizes for text, etc. This dialog has received additional settings: callout shapes are now separated from normal shapes to be style independently. And the new spotlight objects have got their own settings. This makes it easier to change multiple spotlights in a project, if you find them too dark or not dark enough.

Miscellaneous Changes and Bug Fixes

  • New examples included for custom scripts, custom object animations
    and spotlights
  • Screencast: the dialog to specify the screencast layout has additional options to add a pause after every cursor animation and to optionally add spotlight objects.
  • Project file is now locked during editing
  • Improved file handling when opening projects from cloud storages
    like OneDrive or Dropbox
  • Customize Theme dialog, error with color change fixed
  • Undo/redo error fixed when the canvas background image was changed
  • Grouping and ungrouping: improved handling of z-index
  • Group animations: Show and FadeIn did not work for groups
  • Group animations: when ungrouping objects that had both, a group animation and invididual object animations, the animation numbers were not updated
  • Bug fixes in PowerPoint import
  • Xplain loader script: the JavaScript xploader.js has been updated, this script created an error in IE8 and older. (IE8 does not work, we need IE9 or newer. But the script must not trigger an error, it should display a meaningful message.)

Download

This is a free update for all HelpXplain users! Please download the update and install it over your existing installation of HelpXplain.

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See what’s coming in HelpXplain

It’s less than three weeks that we released HelpXplain and we are already working on the first feature update.

One of the new features is separate styles for callouts and other shapes. In the current version, all shapes have the same default fill and outline. But callouts are usually different, so we separated them from the rest of the shapes.

The style settings in HelpXplain globally change the look of all objects of this kind in a presentation:

Global styles in HelpXplain

 

The second new feature are animated spotlights. An animated spotlight darkens the slide and leaves an unobscured area in the middle. This area can be animated with special spotlight animations.

What can you use spotlights for? Read the rest of this entry »

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HelpXplain v1.0.1 Maintenance Update

We are glad to announce the first update after the official release of HelpXplain!

HelpXplain is perfect for slideshows and HowTo screencasts embedded in web pages and technical documentation.

This is a free maintenance update that fixes several small bugs that have been reported by users during the last 8 days. Bug fixes in no particular order:

  • Problem with offline activation fixed
  • Several UI errors fixed
  • Errors in online help fixed
  • Optical glitches in object tree and high-dpi monitors fixed
  • Optical glitches in German UI fixed
  • Project Properties, Custom Scripts edit field: copy to clipboard with CTRL+C did not work
  • When changing the slide transition to “Show”, it was not permanently saved and was back to “Pan, rotate, zoom” the next time the Xplain project was opened.
  • Inserting SVG images: if the SVG has a defines size larger than the slide, it is automatically reduced to slide size.
  • Animation Preview: when the animation preview for a slide was running, it was possible to manipulate objects currently being animated, possibly resulting in access violations.
  • Changing background size could have caused an error when the background was too large.
  • After changes to the publishing skin or to the project properties, the Save button did not immediately become enabled.
  • Duplication of an existing slide did reset the project configuration
  • Object tree: images now also display their internal file name for easier identification
  • Several bugs fixed when creating image sliders:
    • The picture on the first slide started with the name “Image2” instead of “Image1”.
    • If an image was deleted from disk between image selection and the creation of a slider, HelpXplain raised an error.
    • If the images on the slider were small, the default slide size was still 960 x 540 px
    • Taking the aspect ratio of the first image on the slider did not work if images were cropped

 

To install the update, please download the trial version of HelpXplain from our download page and install it over your current version, to update.

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HelpXplain officially released!

We are happy to announce the official release of HelpXplain!

HelpXplain is perfect for slideshows and HowTo screencasts embedded in web pages and technical documentation.

Create animated step-by-step tutorials and quick instructions in minutes instead of hours. The magic is in the method: HelpXplain animates a series of simple screenshots, each of which can be edited or replaced at any time.

HelpXplain can also record multi-page screencasts of programs on your computer screen that run in autoplay mode like a video. Recording and editing them is massively easier and less stressful than trying to create a video!

A free trial version of HelpXplain is available from our download page.

Online orders:
50% off on HelpXplain during Summer 2019!

 

 

 

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Help+Manual 7.5.1 Maintenance Update

We are glad to anncounce the immediate availability of Help+Manual 7.5.1. This is a free update for all 7.xx user and ships with a few improvements – mostly concerning HelpXplain – including:

  • Editing tables and table cell properties could generate an index-out-of-bounds error
  • Setting column width by dialog window did not immediately refresh table
  • Undo after table change could cause strange effects
  • PDF manuals with double-rendering loops: snippets placed directly in the print manual template (MNL) had duplicate page referrers
  • Open picture dialog: HelpXplain files can as well be used as static images – similar to Impict pictures

Update Build 4713 (June 28, 2019)

  • Problem fix for style preview in tables
  • PDF export: in some case, page referrers of links in tables were missing
  • Error when converting a table to plain text
  • RTF/Word import: a special bullet character was not read correctly

 

Please download the update to Help+Manual 7.5.1 from our download page and install over your existing installation of Help+Manual.

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Help+Manual 7.5 Released!

We are glad to anncounce the immediate availability of Help+Manual 7.5.0. This update ships with several improvements including:

  • Text-to-table function updated: several users asked to simplify the text-to-table function and to not apply explicit column widths. The function is now much more transparent and simply splits text by tab stops.
    When using the right-click text-to-table function, the default table style class is applied automatically and the inserted table reflects the table style.
  • Clipboard paste from OneNote implemented
  • Improved topic header synchronization: when duplicating a topic in the TOC with copy and paste, and subsequently changing the duplicated TOC heading, the automatic synchronization with the topic header did not work, because of the added “_2” text that marks the topic copy.

Bugfixes and minor changes

  • Nested snippets from repositories did not work, PDF print styles were not applied to snippets.
  • PDF/Print: If a dropdown toggle had a page break right before the toggle icon, and the icon was removed for print and the left margin of this paragraph was zero, the page break was removed and not re-applied.
  • After saving a project, a topic reload sometimes occurred, causing the cursor to jump to the beginning of a topic and losing the current selection.
  • Font preview in main window: in some rare situations, an access violation ocurred
  • Windows EXE e-books: updated viewer application, the initial ClearCache command has been removed to avoid initiation problems on some systems.
  • Webhelp export: the standard bullets have a slightly different font definition to improve the bullet display and make it larger. Table heading row background color was sometimes wrong for nested tables, if the heading row background was defined the in the table style only.

HelpXplain supported

Last, not least, Help+Manual 7.5 now fully supports HelpXplain presentations. If HelpXplain is installed, you can make full use of responsive interactive HTML5 presentations and screencasts in Webhelp, HTML Help and Windows e-books. HelpXplain will be available soon.

 

Please download the update to Help+Manual 7.5 from our download page and install over your existing installation of Help+Manual.

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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

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