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Deploying eWriter for Software Documentation

Publish eWriter eBooks with Help+Manual

If you are using eWriter books as documentation for your software you will want to open specific topics in the help from your application. To do that you need to be able to reference the viewer directly, so it is best to install it along with your software. You can’t be sure that the user will have it or where it will be otherwise. You also need to consider the following issues:

  • You should always make your help calls explicitly to the version of the viewer that you have installed.
  • You are allowed to and should redistribute the viewer application with your own software.

Read on to learn how to get this set up and working optimally.

Step 1: Get the eViewer.exe executable from the Help+Manual program directory

The current version of eViewer.exe is always included in the Help+Manual program directory. You just need to include it in your own installation. It doesn’t require any special installation or registry keys. It will actually run fine from a USB stick. If you wish you can rename the viewer file and re-sign it with your own certificate so that it matches the rest of your software. That is entirely up to you and we don’t have a problem with it.

Don’t register the .ewriter extension

We also recommend that you do not register the .ewriter extension as part of your installation. Instead, always make your calls explicitly to your installed eViewer.exe and your own help files. This guarantees that you are using the same viewer that was up to date when you generated your help. However, you will also want your users to be able to open your help files themselves by double-clicking on them. So read on to learn how to do that.

Consider using a different extension for your own help files

It is also fine and actually a good idea to change the extension of your help files to anything you like. If you do this, you can register your own custom extension to your installed version of the eViewer application so that your users can open your help files themselves by double-clicking on them.

Then you don’t get any conflicts if the user gets .ewriter files from somewhere else. If they open .ewriter files on Windows 10 they will get the Windows Store version of eViewer automatically (and that extension is required for the Store viewer), and then you don’t have any conflicts: The .ewriter extension is always used for the Store version and your application always opens your help files with your installed version of the viewer.

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eWriter Creator Update

The free eWriter eBook compiler got a small maintenance update. This update does not introduce new features, but improves the readability for high contrast seetings.

Download the update:

eWriter with high contrast settings

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Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals

Starts this Friday, ends next Monday!

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Premium Pack 3.48 Maintenance Update

We have just released a very minor update of the Premium Pack with the following small improvements and fixes. You only need to update your skins if any of the following things are important to you.

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 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 if you do not yet have it.

V3 Skins (WebHelp and eWriter versions)

  • Tooltips in ATOC menu: The ATOC_TIP variable was not set to HTML and as a result the   entity was displayed as code in the tooltips instead of as a space.
  • Disabling the ATOC: The ATOC_SHOW variable for disabling the ATOC was not connected and had no effect. This was never noticed because the ATOC menu is automatically hidden if there are no corresponding links in the current topic.
  • Top navigation button: In some configurations clicking or tapping on the Top topic navigation button would not jump to the correct higher-level topic.

CHM skins

  • Topic header components: Improved scaling on modern. high-resolution monitors and Windows devices.
  • Drop-down menu components: Improved scaling on modern. high-resolution monitors and Windows devices.
  • Topic header title text color: New variable (HD_TEXTCOLOR in the Header Components group) setting the topic header title color in the skin. This eliminates the need to set the color correctly in the Help+Manual  project.

Toolbox utility

  • Close project warning: If you open a new project or skin while one is already open a warning is now only displayed if the current project contains unsaved edits. This makes switching to a new project or skin faster.

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HelpXplain on BitsDuJour

HelpXplain will be featured on as product of the day on July 9 and 10, 2019. Save the date!

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Premium Pack 3.44 Maintenance Update

Version 3.44 of the Help+Manual Premium Pack add-on is a maintenance update. It adds a couple of minor new features and corrects some issues reported by users.

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 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.

Changes and Fixes

[showhide type=”updated” more_text=”Click for details” less_text=”Click to hide”]

  • Search highlighting for external Zoom search pages (V3 WebHelp skins and V2 WebHelp skins)
    If you have an external Zoom search page for multiple WebHelp collections or your entire website, search result links to V3 and V2 WebHelp will now also correctly highlight the search terms in the topic page when it is linked to from your search page. In V2 this works both when accessing the topic directly (topic.htm) and with the full syntax (index.html?topic.htm) and also when switching back from the topic-only display to the full WebHelp user interface.
  • Support for opening WebHelp with the TOC closed on mobile devices (V3 WebHelp skins)
    You can now configure your V3 WebHelp skin to open with the TOC initially closed on phones and tablets if the display is narrow enough to force the topic to fill the entire screen width. This is now on by default as it may also slightly improve search engine rankings since the content is not initially covered (unconfirmed, but worth a try). You can configure this with the new MOBILE_TOCAUTOHIDE variable in the TOC, Index and Search variables group.
  • Full version of ZOOM: Support for WebHelp topics in recommended links (V3 and V2 WebHelp skins)
    If you use the full version of the Wrensoft Zoom web search indexer with V3 WebHelp skins or V2 WebHelp skins you can now also enter links to topics in your WebHelp in the Recommended Links feature of Zoom. Previously, this only worked with external web pages.
  • Breadcrumb navigation: incorrect “No TOC entry for this topic” display (all V3 skins)
    In some situations links and TOC entries referring to an anchor caused the breadcrumb navigation incorrectly to display the “No TOC entry for this topic” message instead of the correct topic reference.
  • Text not assigned to variable in keyword index script (V3 skins)
    The text of the IDXTEXT_CLICKTIP variable (“Select sub-keywords of this entry to see references to“) was not updated in the skin when you changed it.
  • Incorrect iOS version warning message (V2 iPad skin)
    The script in the V2 iPad skin incorrectly identified iOS 11 as an outdated version and displayed a warning the first time it was opened.


More information

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

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New Rescue Copy Feature in Help+Manual 7.3

In Help+Manual 7.3 we have removed the feature Rescue Copy from the Save menu. Instead, the feature is now implicitely integrated in the Save-As command. If you ever wondered what the Rescue Copy actually did, this topic is for you.

What the Rescue Copy did, was to create a new empty project that contained only the changes you made since you hit “Save” the last time. The idea was to save pending changes somewhere if Help+Manual could not save them to the original project.

Imagine you are running Help+Manual on your computer and open a help project from a remote file server. The server is connected through VPN and the connection depends on your Internet connection. The Internet connection breaks at some time, but you don’t notice because you are busy making changes to the project. Just when you hit “Save”… ooops! Can’t do it, Sir.

If the connection to the server is broken, Help+Manual cannot save the project to the original location. If you try, you get an error message.

(A bit of panik sets in…)

But Help+Manual suggests to save the project locally instead, using the Save-As command. Excellent idea, you say to yourself and hit Save-As…

The problem is: a “Save-As” normally creates a full copy of the original project, just saved locally. The entire content of the original project is duplicated in this case, including those topic files (on the file server) that have not been even loaded yet, because you did neither view nor change them. To do a complete Save-As, Help+Manual must load those yet-not-loaded files from the server to save them locally to the new project. Which, of course, fails if the server connection is broken, resulting in a second error message, that Save-As could not be completed.

(Tense panic now…)

At this point, it was time for the Rescue Copy. If nothing else works, the Rescue Copy would save the pending changes to a new help project to store them for later, when the connection to the server would be reestablished.

Would you have ever thought of this feature in Help+Manual, when in panic? Probably not. And this is exactly, why we removed the Rescue Copy feature. We implicitly implemented it in Save-As instead.

With Help+Manual 7.3, when the original Save operation cannot complete, because a server connection is broken, you can always use Save-As. Help+Manual will try to create a complete copy of the original project with Save-As.

If a complete copy is not possible (connection broken, remember!), it will save just the changes you made in the meantime and will report, what it could save and what it couldn’t. It is now a transparent save operation, that will work in any case and at the very least rescue all your recent work on the project.

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Free Trial: Premium Pack Toolbox with Normalize Styles

The Toolbox application included with the Premium Pack skin suite is a Swiss Army knife for Help+Manual projects and skins as well as a configuration utility for the Premium Pack skins. The upcoming 3.23 version of Toolbox has a powerful new feature called Normalize Styles that can radically accelerate two important tasks:

  • Integrating content imported from HTML and CHM files into your project stylesheet
  • Removing inline/manual formatting to clean up your projects’ XML source for translation

This is already fully compatible with the new Tidy XML feature in the upcoming Help+Manual 7.3 update, so if you are already using the 7.3 beta you can use the latest version of Toolbox with it. You can download a free trial version of Toolbox with these features here and try it out before it is officially released with Premium Pack 3.23:

Premium Pack Toolbox Free Trial

If you are a registered Premium Pack user you can use the trial version without restrictions. Otherwise you can test it on Help+Manual projects with a maximum of 20 topics. The trial will not disable your current version of Toolbox if you have one and expires two weeks after installation.

Integrating imported HTML into your stylesheet

When you import HTML files or a CHM help file to a Help+Manual project your formatting comes in as inline or “manual” formatting that cannot be directly controlled by the styles in your project. Normally, you need to create styles based on the formatting and then manually apply them to all the paragraphs in your project where you want to use the style.

So long as the text imported from HTML or CHM is tagged with style names, Normalize Styles eliminates many hours of tedious work by doing this automatically. All you need is for a paragraph or any text within the paragraph to be tagged with a style name. It will then apply your selected paragraph style to the entire paragraph. At the same time it eliminates manual formatting so that your paragraphs are fully under the control of the project stylesheet. But it also optionally allows you to keep text already formatted with other styles and manual bold, italics and underlining. And you can also automatically apply specified styles to hyperlinks and toggle links.


Normalize entire project

The second tab of the Normalize Project Styles tool is called “Entire Project”. It automatically normalizes all the text in your entire project, removing manual formatting and putting everything under the control of the styles defined in your project stylesheet. This can be very useful when you are preparing your project for translation, because it significantly reduces the number of redundant inline XML tags and attributes that can make life more difficult for the translator.

This even applies if you are using the new Tidy XML feature introduced in Help+Manual 7.3, because your project may still contain a lot of manual formatting “cruft” accumulated during normal day-to-day work (and it is fully compatible with Tidy XML). In our tests, Normalize reduced the tag volume in a 750-topic project by a further 25%, even after Tidy XML had been applied.

If you use styles systematically, this function too can save you hours of tedious work because you no longer need to manually tidy up all the manually-formatted paragraphs in your project after locating them with Project Report. And here too, you can protect text already formatted with other styles and manual bold, underline and italics.

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Using Help+Manual WebHelp on MS Azure

Experienced Help+Manual user Garry Robinson has just published a terrific tutorial explaining how he deploys and maintains Help+Manual WebHelp documentation on Microsoft Azure sites. In addition to the basics, he also explains how Dropbox and other similar services can be used to keep the site up to date.

Garry reports that the performance is outstanding, even with the lowest-tier Azure web service that he is using.

Visit the tutorial here:


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Major Update: Premium Pack 3.20 and 3.21

Premium Pack version 3.20 is now available, and since the initial release we have also put out a small 3.21 maintenance release that corrects some issues reported by users. This is a free update for all current Premium Pack 3 users. It is the largest update to date, with significant new features and improvements for the V3 Responsive skins and the V2 skins for both WebHelp and EWriter books.

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 Premium Pack 3. If you no longer have this please contact 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 in the V3 Responsive Skins

  • New handling of multiple TOC entries for topics
    Navigation now works perfectly for multiple TOC entries for the same topic. Previous, next and breadcrumb links go to the correct TOC entries, not to the first entry for the topic.  Chapters consisting of a single topic work correctly. You can also link to specific TOC entries with both URLs and topic links.
  • Support for user JS code, URL parameters and session variables
    Add code to be executed automatically after each topic loads. Pass parameters to your code with URLs and store them in session variables that persist for the current session or across sessions. Hide and show topic content on the basis of session variable settings.
  • Tap images and layout tables for mobile devices
    Tap images make normal images behave like toggles on mobile devices. A double-tap expands the image to the screen size with pinch-zoom. Layout tables hide tables that would break mobile layouts and replaces them with a tap bar. Tapping displays the full scrollable table on top of the help. You just need to add a class name to activate both functions.
  • Support for Google Web Fonts with H+M editor integration
    You now integrate Google Web Fonts in your WebHelp output and also use them directly in Help+Manual so that you see the fonts you are using while you are editing. Setting them up and using them is quick and easy.
  • Expand All option for Keyword Index pane in desktop mode
    Setting the new INDEX_DESK_EXPAND variable to true a fully-expanded keyword index is now generated in desktop browsers.
  • SmartCache for topics and popups
    Topics and popups are cached after the first visit in the current session, but the first access always loads from the server to ensure the user never sees an old version.
  • Support for formatted headers from the topic
    Include the formatted header from the topic in the header of V3 skins, enabling the inclusion of images inserted in individual headers. This is activated with a new Skin Build Options setting in the Publish screen.

New in the V2 WebHelp + EWriter skins

  • Support for user JS code, URL parameters and session variables
    Add code to be executed automatically after each topic loads. Pass parameters to your code with URLs and store them in session variables that persist for the current session or across sessions. Hide and show topic content on the basis of session variable settings.
  • Elimination of Flash for copying permalinks
    The Copy Permalink function no longer users an Adobe Flash component. This has been replaced by modern HTML5 functions. Among other things, this prepares for Google Chrome’s upcoming blocking of background Flash usage.
  • Preservation of help state during and between sessions
    Navigation pane width and state, header state and the current scroll positions of the keyword index and search results are now preserved for the user during the current session. Navigation pane width and header state are preserved between sessions.

New in the Premium Pack Toolbox

  • Editing templates for skins with spaces in their names didn’t work in some editors like Sublime Text. The editor opened multiple blank files with the names of the template name components.
  • Added a sortable Last Edit Date column to the Baggage Files section so that recently edited files can easily be sorted to the top of the list.
  • A large range of executable Windows script and batch file extensions are now automatically identified as editable “code” files when they are in the baggage so that they are opened in the code editor when you double-click them.
  • Changing build options on new baggage files added in the current session didn’t activate the Save Project button.
  • Changing the ID of build options in skins showed incorrect dialogs that needed to be clicked away before the ID could be changed.

Fixes added with the 3.21 Maintenance Update

  • V3 skins, FOUC:
    On some slow servers there could be a FOUC (Flash Of Unformatted Content) on the first load of the WebHelp.
  • V3 skins, IE bug:
    If the user had DOM Storage turned off in Internet Explorer options the WebHelp would come up completely unformatted. This could also happen on older versions of IE with buggy support for DOM Storage.
  • V3 Skins, tooltips:
    There were some hard-coded tooltips in the navigation buttons of the topic header so that changing the variable definitions didn’t change the tooltips.
  • V3 Skins, right-click on topic links:
    A right-click on a topic link executed the link and then displayed the context menu. This now only displays the context menu.
  • WebHelp/EWriter skins, Boxed Aqua skin:
    The file name for the box header background was hard-coded in the template and could not be changed with the configuration variables settings
  • WebHelp/EWriter skins, print preview:
    Print Preview failed to complete correctly due to a conflict with the new support for session variables.
  • WebHelp/EWriter:
    Identification of DOM Storage support for the new session variables updated to account for weaknesses in Internet Explorer.
  • Language Files:
    Some minor corrections in the German versions of the language files.
  • Premium Pack Toolbox:
    An incorrect error message was displayed when removing project and HTML options from the skin. Undoing such a removal now automatically restores the removed value if done while still in the same screen.
  • Premium Pack Toolbox:
    The program could hang on Open Project if the last folder visited was a network folder that had become unavailable, for example on a laptop no longer connected to the network.

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