Help+Manual News

Archive for category WebHelp

Review of Help+Manual 8 on UA Europe

The well-known help technology expert and trainer Matthew Ellison has just published a comprehensive review of Help+Manual 8 on the UA Europe site. As an expert on help authoring, Matthew is uniquely qualified to assess a program like Help+Manual.

UA Europe Help+Manual Review

Click to view the review
on the UA Europe site

 

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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 2.0 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:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Premium Pack 3.47 Maintenance Update

We are happy to announce the release of version 3.47 of the Help+Manual Premium Pack add-on. This is a minor maintenance update. It includes fixes for the issues described below in the V3 skins and the Toolbox utility. All other skins remain unchanged.

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.

V3 WebHelp and eWriter Skins

  • Anchors with keywords: Selecting anchors with keywords in the keyword index caused a JavaScript error and did not open a toggle associated with the anchor. This was a side-effect of the Google Analytics query feature added in 3.46.
  • Non-server mode: The optional q=search+term addition to the URL for Google Analytics for search and keyword index clicks added in 3.46 is now automatically disabled when V3 WebHelp is accessed without a web server. This caused errors in non-server mode and cannot be used there anyway.
  • Non-server mode: In some cases the use of a file name other than index.html for the main WebHelp file caused errors when viewing V3 WebHelp without a web server. This has been corrected, but use of index.html is still strongly recommended.
  • Search highlighting: In some configurations search terms were not correctly highlighted in the found topic pages.
  • Popups: Popups can now also be closed with the ESC key.
  • Popups: The title font from the popup title bar is no longer applied to the entire popup (the main font from the project is used).
  • Popups: Automatic positioning and sizing of popups have been improved.
  • Port reference in permalinks: The port reference is now included in permalinks if the web server is not running on the standard port 80.

Toolbox Utility

  • Editing warnings: Additional checks and warnings have been implemented to help prevent simultaneous editing of skins and projects in Help+Manual and Toolbox.
  • Non-active options: The program would exit if the user tried to activate a non-active option without first setting a value for the option (e.g. in HTML Options or Project Options).
  • Add Build Option: The Add Build Option tool in the Edit menu was not active in projects that did not yet have any build options defined.
  • Delete user-defined variable: Deleting the last user-defined variable in a skin or project did not refresh the variables list and the deleted variable was still displayed.

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Help+Manual 7.4.2 Update

We are proud to anncounce the immediate availability of Help+Manual 7.4.2. This update ships with several small improvements including:

  • Text-to-table function implemented: if you select existing tabbed text in a topic and click Insert Table, it will convert the tabbed text into a table.
  • Conditional text: if IFDEF statements were used in text, in particular in tables, a long list of IFDEF options resulted in relatively wide condition tags. The display size of the condition tags has been restricted, a mouse-over hint shows the full list of conditions.
  • Images hotspots dialog: entry field for topic ID permits editing (copy and paste)
  • Topic editor context menu: when the context menu was opened with the keyboard (e.g. SHIFT+F10), it had some glitches with tables and with the spell checker.
  • Topic editor: the scaling message for small images has been improved, it displays % only, no text.
  • High resolution displays: problems fixed for OLE objects and embedded images (PDF/HTML/DOC export)
  • Double quotation marks could be entered in topic IDs, though they are not valid for file names.
  • Task publishing: when creating eWriter eBooks with a publishing task, the specified skin was not used.
  • Insert horizontal line: when specifying a custom style, the line not use the specified line height, but rather used the default.
  • Spelling checker: support for the latest update of the Spanish OXT dictionary implemented

 

Please download the update to Help+Manual 7.4.2 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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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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Premium Pack 3.45 Update

Version 3.45 of the Help+Manual Premium Pack add-on adds a new set of V3 WebHelp and EWriter skins using the popular Samurai Red color theme and corrects some minor issues.

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.

New Samurai Red Skins

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The Samurai Red color scheme in the older V2 skins was so popular that many users have asked to have a version of it in the new V3 skins. We have now complied and provided a total of six new V3 Samurai Red skins, with Boxed, Flat and Minimalist versions for both WebHelp and EWriter. Matching tablet and phone modes are included in all three WebHelp skin variants, of course.

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Changes and Fixes

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  • V3 skins: The social sharing option did not always disable in phone mode when it was turned off.
  • V3 skins: A change in the Safari browser on Mac computers prevented V3 WebHelp from working correctly in local mode without a web server.
  • V3 skins: If the topic title contained an ampersand character (&) it was displayed as & in the browser tab title.
  • V3 skins: In embedded/field-level topics and popups a dummy page title text was sometimes visible briefly on slower servers.
  • V2 skins: Web links to secure pages (https) did not automatically open in a new tab when this was configured. This now works correctly for links starting with http://, https:// and //.
  • V2 skins: If the topic title contained an ampersand character (&) it was displayed as & in the tooltip for the internal topic tabs in the page.

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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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Premium Pack 3.42/3.43 Maintenance Update

Versions 3.42/3.43 of the Help+Manual Premium Pack add-on is primarily a maintenance update. It is recommended for all Premium Pack users because it corrects several small but potentially annoying issues.

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.

3.43 Additional Corrections

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  • Incorrect comma-separated skip words in search options (Skins and Toolbox)
    Due to an old bug in Help+Manual itself, some skins contained comma-separated excluded words in the search settings. The WebHelp indexer ignored these skip words. This has been corrected to space separated in all skins. Toolbox will now automatically check for and correct this setting when any skin or Help+Manual project is opened.
  • Popup help window was exclusive (Toolbox)
    An error in 3.42 made the popup help window for settings exclusive so that you needed to close it to move to another setting.
  • Editor not found check (Toolbox)
    Toolbox now checks whether your selected editors for code files and graphics have become unavailable before using them.
  • Configuration variable validity checking (Toolbox)
    The performance of the validity checks for non Premium Pack settings and non-configured settings has been improved.
  • WebHelp templates in CHM skins (V2 CHM skins)
    The unnecessary WebHelp templates have been disabled in the CHM skins so that they can no longer be accidentally selected in Toolbox.

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V3 Skins Maintenance Update

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  • Add/Remove Topic ID Prefixes function (Toolbox)
    In some cases, the Add/Remove Topic ID Prefixes function would hang and fail to complete, particularly with older projects. This has been corrected. The function now also aborts with a warning if a topic containing invalid XML code is encountered and checks whether duplicate topic IDs would be created when removing topic ID prefixes.
  • Configuration help window too far on top (Toolbox)
    The popup help window for variable configuration etc. was displayed on top of all programs on the Windows screen. It is now only on top of Toolbox itself.
  • Variables to adjust navigation tab positions (V3 skins)
    The V3 skins now have new variables in the TOC, Index and Search section which allow you to fine-adjust the vertical position of the navigation tabs. This can be necessary if you change the base font of your project, which can change the physical size of the relative rems units used in the layout.
  • Bug in Edge browser when viewing WebHelp without a web server (V3 WebHelp skins)
    The V3 WebHelp skins allow you to view WebHelp locally, without a web server. This was not possible in the new Microsoft Edge browser in Windows 10 due to a bug in Edge. A workaround has now been added to deal with this bug.
  • Scrolling to anchors (V3 skins)
    The scroll position of an external link targeting an anchor could be wrong if the width of the navigation pane had been previously changed by the user, or if the help window was narrow enough so that the navigation pane overlaps the topic pane. Scrolling now waits for completion of topic positioning.
  • Multiple clicks on keyword index entries and search results (V3 skins)
    A second click on a keyword index or search results topic link caused the breadcrumb trail to change to >No TOC entry for this topic<. This was a side-effect of another recent correction.
  • Multiple clicks on search results – visual side-effects (V3 skins)
    In some cases, multiple clicks on the same search results topic link could make part of the breadcrumb navigation to become progressively more transparent and less legible. Another side effect of this was that it was sometimes necessary to click twice on a search result to display highlights on the found search terms in the topic.
  • Overlapping TOC scrollbar (V3 skins)
    In the EWriter skins and in the WebHelp skins when displayed in Internet Explorer the vertical scrollbar in the table of contents and the keyword index panes sometimes overlapped its border slightly at the top and bottom.
  • JavaScript warning in search results (V3 skins)
    In some configurations it was possible for the warning text that JavaScript must be on to view the help to be displayed in the context excerpt text for topics in the search results.
  • Opening toggles for search results (CHM skins)
    A change in Windows stopped toggles on the page from opening to show the highlighted search items in CHM files when jumping to a topic from the CHM search results.

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Extended support for the full version of the Zoom web search indexer

[showhide type=”zoomsupport” more_text=”Click for details” less_text=”Click to hide”]If you are using the full version of the Zoom web indexer from Wrensoft instead of the integrated version included with Help+Manual you can now use the advanced features listed below with both the V3 skins and the V2 WebHelp skins. In addition to this the layout of the search pages in all skins has been reworked and improved.

With the exception of thumbnail images these features are also supported in Help+Manual’s standard skins, but just “as is”. They have now been explicitly integrated in the layout of the V2 and V3 WebHelp skins, where some of them did not appear correctly before because of the customized layouts.

  • Thumbnail images
    You can associate images with individual topics to be displayed as a thumbnail next to the topic listing in the search results. This needs to be configured in your project to associate images with your topics. See the V3 WebHelp skins and the V2 WebHelp skins topics for instructions.
  • Autocomplete
    The full version of Zoom features an autocomplete feature that shows a list of terms included in the help as the user is typing in the search box.
  • Categories
    You can assign categories to your topics and search will then allow you to filter your search results by these categories.
  • Date range search
    Restrict the search results to topics with dates falling within a specific range (desktop browsers only).
  • Recommended links
    Display predefined links to external web pages for specific search keywords, optionally with a thumbnail image sourced from the web page.
  • Search optimization
    Further enhance your search results with weighting, filtering, synonyms, recommended links

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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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