Help+Manual News

Archive for category Utilities

Premium Pack 4.2.1 Maintenance Update

We have just updated Premium Pack 4 to version 4.2.1. This is a minor maintenance update that adds one important new feature to the Toolbox utility, which can now edit HMXR style repository projects as well as Help+Manual projects and skins.

How to get the Premium Pack update

You can download and install the updated version with the download link and personal installation password you received when you purchased. If you no longer have these details please contact support@ec-software.com and we will help you out. See the Premium Pack product page for more details on Premium Pack 4 and visit our online store to purchase if you do not yet have it.

Main changes and new features

The main change in this otherwise minor update is the addition of the ability of Toolbox to edit style repository projects (.hmxr). This makes it possible to use the new import/export styles tool on these projects as well. You can also use the other topics tools on these projects.

In addition to this, it was found that Help+Manual continues to maintain outdated XSD schema files in some old HMXP projects. This happens when backup or other tools are used that update the XSD file timestamp to the current date, which prevents HM from identifying an outdated file. When Toolbox encounters XSD validation errors it now automatically backdates the XSD, forcing HM to update it next time the project is updated.

Toolbox changes

  • Support for editing HMXR projects
  • Check for read-only TOC and topic and files in otherwise accessible projects
  • Add/Remove prefixes: Error if a topic ID was shorter than the prefix
  • XSD validation: Force Help+Manual to update outdated XSD schema file

Skin changes

  • The variable for the “Copied!” text in the new code sample boxes was inactive in some skins.

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Premium Pack 4.2 Update

We have just updated Premium Pack 4 to version 4.2.0. This is a significant update with several new features, along with a number of minor fixes and corrections.

How to get the Premium Pack update

You can download and install the updated version with the download link and personal installation password you received when you purchased. If you no longer have these details please contact support@ec-software.com and we will help you out. See the Premium Pack product page for more details on Premium Pack 4 and visit our online store to purchase if you do not yet have it.

Main changes and new features

Version 4.2 includes a general overhaul of a lot of code, also for the update to the latest version of jQuery. Because of this, please don’t try to backport this version to older skins — use the new skins instead. It also brings three major new features:

Code Sample Box

All skins now include a Code Sample Box feature. This enables you to add programming code samples to your documentation in a box with a Copy to Clipboard link that copies the sample code directly to the Windows Clipboard. This even works in CHM files.

Import/Export Styles

The Toolbox utility has a new Import/Export Styles feature, with which you can import individual text, paragraph and table styles to Help+Manual projects from other projects and style files created with the tool. (In Help+Manual itself you can only replace an entire project stylesheet with another one.)

Validate XML against XSD

The Toolbox utility now validates XML against the XSD schema file included with every Help+Manual project. This prevents the accidental creation of invalid HM XML when working on the XML source code, for example with the search and replace tool.

jQuery Update

All skins have been updated to the latest 3.6 version of jQuery. This includes quite a lot of low-level code changes in the scripts, so please don’t try to backport the changes in these skins to older versions. Use the new skins instead.

Toolbox Utility Changes and Fixes

  • XML validation against XSD: This checks all projects and skins you open and prevents the creation of invalid XML (see above).
  • Import/Export Styles tool: Import individual styles to Help+Manual projects from other projects or style files exported with the tool.
  • Normalize Styles: Corrected an error that could incorrectly reset Bold/Underline/Italics formatting when processing some projects.
  • Edit Preferences: A message is now displayed in Edit Preferences explaining that all current projects and skins need to be closed to change some options.
  • Complex Search & Replace: On some projects the search and replace tool could only be used once if the Autosave feature was active.
  • Complex Search & Replace: An error could be generated when replacing in invalid topic files because they were not automatically excluded from searches.
  • TOC \Maps folder in uncompressed HMXP projects: Toolbox would crash silently on opening an HMXP project if there were non-TOC files or invalid secondary TOC files in the \Maps folder.
  • Plus a number of cosmetic changes, like showing a red explanation that you need to close all projects to be able to edit the disabled preferences in Edit > Preferences.

V3 and V4 WebHelp Skins

  • Embedded Help: A new option enables you to leave the WebHelp header visible when opening help embedded in another web page.
  • Local without Web Server: Changes in the security features of current browsers caused a number of errors when using these skins in local mode without a web server. These errors have been corrected, along with others caused by some Google Analytics features not being disabled in local mode.

All V3 and V4 Skins

  • Image toggle close mode: The Click Inside option for closing image toggles caused an error in some skins.
  • Image toggles: Image toggles were inactive when published with Help+Manual 7.
  • Search results: Some V3 WebHelp and eWriter skins showed only the project title in the search results instead of the topic title. The incorrect topic title was sometimes shown in the search results in the Advanced skins.

All Skins

  • A potential cross-site scripting vulnerability has been corrected in the Zoom Search component. The vulnerability was only available when date range searching was activated. This is only supported the full, standalone version of Zoom, so it was not an issue in WebHelp generated with the version in Help+Manual.

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Premium Pack 4.0.3 Maintenance Update

We have just updated Premium Pack 4 to version 4.0.3. This now includes the promised V4 Modern Standard set of skins, which are similar to Modern Flexible but with a more basic appearance and functionality. In addition to this it tidies up some color variables and style settings and corrects a couple of small 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 support@ec-software.com 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.

Skin Updates 

  • New skin category: The V4 Modern Standard skin category is now included. This is a simple, functional layout similar to Modern Flexible, but without width restriction (always full width), with simple drop-down user-configurable menus in the page header.
  • General: Minor corrections in color variables and layout.
  • Modern Compact skins: New settings in Skin Options to disable the logo and link buttons.
  • Flexible and Magazine skins: The MAX_PAGEWIDTH variable in the General Settings variables section now accepts both pixel (px) and percent (%) values for setting the maximum width of the help in the browser window.
  • Magazine skins: Improvement to drop-down menu behavior in phone mode (opening one submenu now closes any other submenu to save space, as in the other skins).
  • Flexible skins: Feature images did not move up with the page header in phone mode when hiding the page header, leaving a gap.
  • V3 eWriter skins: An error caused a delay on opening WebHelp, during which context calls to the skin would fail.
  • V3 eWriter skins: The Minimalist Standard skin included some double variable references that prevented saving changes.

Toolbox utility

  • New program icon
  • New language files for Dutch for V4 skins
  • Minor bug fixes

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Coming soon: New Screen Capture Tool

We have implemented a completely new and much more advanced screen capture tool in Help+Manual. This tool supports:

  • Captures on multiple monitors with different resolutions
  • Multi-part captures (add new captures to the existing capture to create a single image)
  • Capture animated HelpXplain screencasts for tutorials – a series of screenshots with animated transitions showing how to do something on the computer screen

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Premium Pack 3.50 Maintenance Update

This update adds some significant improvements to Google Analytics configuration and handling to the V3 WebHelp skins. It also includes some other small improvements and fixes in the V3 WebHelp skins and the Toolbox utility.

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 support@ec-software.com 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 WebHelp Skins 

  • Google Analytics updated from the older gat.js system to the new analytics.js system. This should be more reliable. In addition to this you can now configure inclusion of the WebHelp path, named trackers and the titles of the search and keyword index events in your Google Analytics console. See Google Analytics in the V3 WebHelp skins chapter.
  • No Server Mode: Demo links in the header menus failed in some browsers because they used the shorthand // protocol instead of http:// or https://. Browsers have become stricter about resolving links using the shorthand protocol reference since this feature was created.
  • No Server Mode: Anchor links in the TOC and keyword index failed as an unintended result of another change in recent updates.
  • Permalink tool: The “:” colon character for the port reference was included even when the port was the standard port 80 and was not referenced. This was also caused by a change in browser behavior.
  • Smartphone mode: Tables tagged with the phone CSS class were hidden in phone mode because of changes in HM HTML output for tables. This is related to CSS for the X-Tables function that was then applied to other tables.
  • X-Tables function: Expanding rows lacked borders in some X-Tables in phone mode. This was also related to changes in Help+Manual HTML output for tables.

Toolbox utility

  • Baggage Files — Add File: After adding a Baggage File the column headers of the Baggage Files list were sometimes updated incorrectly.
  • Baggage Files — Export File: On some systems the prompt to save the baggage file could appear multiple times when exporting a baggage file.

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Premium Pack 3.49 Maintenance Update

We have just released a minor update of the Premium Pack with the improvements and fixes listed below.

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 support@ec-software.com 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)

  • Search highlighting: When the topic already containing search highlighting was selected in the search results after a new search the original highlighting was not removed.
  • Google Analytics: Occasionally it was possible for the first topic visited to be tracked twice.
  • Google Analytics: Ghostery and other similarly aggressive tracking blockers will no longer cause a critical error in WebHelp. These blockers simply kill the tracking function within the Google script instead of actually blocking the outgoing tracking calls, and this disruption of the script needs to be caught so that it does not terminate all other scripts on the page as well.
  • Image toggles: In response to many requests, image toggles are now closed by clicking outside the image in desktop mode. Tablet and phone modes remain unchanged.
  • Search results: Breadcrumb trail was not displayed in the header of a topic opened from search results (side-effect of a previous search update).
  • Anchor links: Anchor links sometimes did not scroll to the target anchor on internal topic links (side-effect of previous search update).
  • TOC: If the last item in the sibling chapter before the current chapter was a sub-chapter clicking the Top button would highlight that sub-chapter instead of the actual parent chapter.
  • Android devices: Small script error in some pages corrected. This probably had no effect on performance and only showed up as a JS console message.
  • EWriter skins: Removed Android and Google Analytics code that didn’t do anything.

Toolbox utility

  • Open new project: The current project will now only be closed if you actually open another project. If you cancel, the current project remains open.
  • Save Project button: The save project button now turns green when active for better visibility.

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eWriter 2.1 Maintenance Update

eWriter is a converter application to turn HTML pages into a self-contained Windows executable or eBook. This output format is integrated into Help+Manual as well (and will soon become available in HelpXplain). The eWriter converter application is the free stand-alone version.

 

Update Version 2.1

This update includes an updated viewer app with improved support for eBooks in full-screen/maximized window mode.

Download

Download eWriter Creator stand-alone edition directly from our website:
http://www.e-writer.com/

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eWriter 2.0 released

eWriter is a converter application to turn HTML pages into a self-contained Windows executable or eBook. This output format is integrated into Help+Manual as well (and will soon become available in HelpXplain). The eWriter converter application is the free stand-alone version.

Redesigned Runtime Viewer

The viewer for eWriter eBooks is now a stand-alone app. We have completely rebuilt the viewer app with this version and made it (optionally) available as a separate installer. The viewer looks more modern, but more important is the new code base which it is built on: it is more or less platform-independent.

The eWriter Viewer app is currently available in 32 and 64 bit versions, and it is listed in the Microsoft Store:

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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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eWriter 1.2 released – Free HTML-to-eBook Converter

eWriter is a converter application to turn HTML pages into a self-contained Windows executable. This output format is completely integrated into Help+Manual as eWriter eBooks. The eWriter converter application is the free stand-alone version.

About eWriter

eWriter creates portable websites in a single compact Windows file with an integrated server and viewer. eWriter “books” can be viewed on any Windows device, even on old and outdated versions of Windows. They support direct contextual references from your applications to display specific pages and to scroll to anchors on your pages. Unlike a normal website, repeated calls to an eWriter book will all open in the same window.

How to create an eBook with eWriter

This version 1.2 update now includes the option to create data-only eBooks that can be opened with a separate viewer – similar to the functionality in Help+Manual.

Download

You can download eWriter stand-alone edition directly from our website:

https://www.helpandmanual.com/ewriter.html

 

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