Help+Manual News

HelpXplain 1.8.0 Maintenance Update

We are glad to announce the release of HelpXplain 1.8.0. If your maintenance plan for HelpXplain includes the release date (Nov 23, 2023), this is a free update. The quickest way to find out, is to start HelpXplain and click Help > Check for Update.

Favorites Tool and Format Painter

We have implemented a favorites tool, where you can store objects that you want to re-insert regularly. This is a very comfortable function to store customized objects and have them ready for insertion whenever you need them. Favorites are stored in a hidden Xplain file, which you can open and edit to modify your favorites list.

Favorites Tool

The second really convenient new function is a Format Painter. It works in the very same way as it does in Help+Manual, or in MS Office.

Format Painter


Minor Changes and bug fixes in v1.8

  • New additional numbering steps – with text label attached
  • Canvas background: a transparent background option has been added. This option is less important for animated presentations. But if you use HelpXplain to annotate screenshots, it creates transparent PNG files.
  • Object Shadows can now be centered as well
  • Shadow direction is displayed independently from the object rotation (and keeps its position when rotating the object)
  • Function “Fit Slide to Objects” improved: it’s more exact and uses a more detailed positioning analysis.
  • Shape text editor: F2 starts edit and ESC cancels edit
  • Command line compiler XplainCmd.exe can now export single-slide Xplains to SVG
  • HelpXplain can open and edit .SnipX files (more on that later)
  • Bug fix: a change of line caps was not restored by the undo function
  • Bug fix: undo did not work after image modification with the Skew tool
  • Bug fix for multiple instances of HelpXplain (64 bit only)
  • Bug fix in script file: when slides were made invisible in HelpXplain, the slide index was mixed up in the output HTML file, causing slide animations not to run.


All updates are available from our download page. Download and install the update over your existing version of HelpXplain.


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EC Software Black Friday Week: 25% off on everything

From November 20th – 27th is Black Week for EC Software products. You get a 25% discount on everything at checkout, on top of any volume or bundle discounts. So head on over to the store and start saving:

EC Software Online Store

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HelpXplain 1.7.1 Maintenance Update

We are glad to announce the release of HelpXplain 1.7.1. If your maintenance plan for HelpXplain includes the release date (October 21, 2023), this is a free update. The quickest way to find out, is to start HelpXplain and click Help > Check for Update.

HelpXplain 1.7.1

This is a small update with just a couple of new features:

  • Support for Ziphelp in the Publish dialog
  • Three new line types: bent curve, s-curve and zigzag
  • When inserting an overview slide, the function optionally inserts links to all other slides


All updates are available from our download page. Download and install the update over your existing version of HelpXplain.


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Help+Manual 9.3 supports Ziphelp

We are glad to announce the immediate availability of Help+Manual 9.3.

This maintenance update implements Ziphelp support for the HTML5/Webhelp output. Furthermore, it includes the recently released eWriter Viewer 4.0.

Ziphelp is basically HTML5 in a zip archive with an additional Ziphelp sitemap. You can enable Ziphelp sitemap support by checking the corresponding option in the HTML5/Webhelp publishing configuration:


Ziphelp support in Help+Manual


New features and changes in Help+Manual 9.3

  • HTML5/Webhelp output with Ziphelp support
  • eWriter Viewer 4.0 included
  • HelpXplain command line compiler: before exporting an Xplain, the compiler checks if source file and output have the same time stamp and skips compiliation if they are equal. This speeds up compilation of projects that contain several Xplains.
  • Import Word/RTF: new import option added Use topic heading as ID (ignores the typical “refXXXXX” references from Word and replaces them with auto-generated IDs from the topic heading).
  • Import HTML Help/CHM: new import option added Import text-popups as standard topics.
  • OLE MathType objects were (no longer) transparent when exported to HTML. This bug was introduced with version 9.2 in August.

Build-Update 6582 (Oct 26, 2023)

  • The Ziphelp option for HTML5/Webhelp output was “on” by default and could not be changed. This build update changes the default for Ziphelp to “off”.



All updates are available from our download page.

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Soluling: A Translation Tool for Help+Manual and More

Translate Help+Manual projects and localize your software

Soluling is a powerful new translation tool for Help+Manual projects, software user interfaces, web content and much more. It offers a unique combination of support for multiple machine translation services with human translators, along with translation and terminology memory. The most important points for Help+Manual users are:

  • Supports Help+Manual projects (HMXP) directly
  • Also supports translation of software user interfaces, including most current IDEs
  • Help+Manual is just one of the many formats supported — over 100 in total
  • Supports machine translation with DeepL and many other services (Amazon, Google, IBM etc.)
  • Machine translation is very flexible, allowing combination of multiple services and human translators
  • Also supports translation by human services, crowd sourcing, direct manual translation and more
  • Translate by paragraph, multiple paragraphs or in bulk for entire topics and projects
  • Directly generates translated versions of the originals — no conversion necessary
  • Includes translation memory so that unchanged texts and phrases in your projects get translated automatically
  • Includes terminology memory to build consistency for your terminology translations
  • Both translation and terminology memory have cloud versions for simultaneous access by teams
  • All services and translation options are highly configurable, allowing fine-tuning of performance and results

For more information and downloads visit the Soluling website at

Translating Help+Manual projects

Translating Help+Manual projects in Soluling is a simple process. Basically, you point the program at a HMXP project and it loads the project tree and its content in a spreadsheet-like interface. You can translate manually directly in the right column. Or if you are using machine translation you right-click in the empty target language column and choose your configured translation service. Similarly, you can also use your translation memory there once it has been set up. Any XML tags within the paragraphs are shown, but this doesn’t trip the system up. Sentences are always handled as entire units, no matter how many sub-tags they contain. This is a pleasant contrast to some other XML-based translation tools.

Soluling user interface

Translating a HM project in Soluling

Bulk machine and memory translation

The spreadsheet paradigm makes bulk translation very simple. For a topic you select the topic file, press CTRL+A in the target column to select everything, then right-click and select your translation service or your translation memory. Translating the entire project with a single click works in the same way: Selecting the project name at the top of the tree on the left displays all the translatable elements in the entire project on the right. Then you just select them all and choose your translation service or your translation memory.

Translation memory and terminology features

The integration of translation and terminology memory is another major feature of Soluling. Once you are satisfied with your translation you can save it to the integrated translation memory database for your project. When the Help+Manual project is updated you just need to apply the translation memory to get perfect translations for all the text that hasn’t changed. Then you only need to work on what is new and changed.

By default, translation memory works with sentences as the basic unit, but you can also configure Soluling to handle phrases and other meaningful language units in the translation memory. It is extensively and minutely configurable, like everything else in this impressive tool. And in addition to your own translation memory database, Soluling can also integrate the Microsoft Terminology Service and the MyMemory translation memory service.

Similarly, you can also configure a terminology database that will automatically translate any defined terms in the predefined way for maximum consistency. And here too, you can combine your own database with the Microsoft Terminology Service.

Teamwork and cloud features

Soluling supports working on your translation projects in teams. You can generate Soluling packages to send to multiple translators and then integrate their results into your main project. And the translation memory and terminology databases can be maintained as cloud-based versions so that all translators can access them directly.

Software user interface translation

This goes beyond the scope of this review, but as already mentioned, Soluling isn’t only for translating Help+Manual projects, web content and a total of over 100 other different input formats. It is also a full software localization tool, with a complete set of powerful and configurable features for translating and localizing the entire user interface of your application. Visit the Soluling website for more information on this.

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eWriter Viewer 4.0 with Ziphelp Support

We have updated eWriter Viewer to version 4. Both, the Windows and MacOS versions are available from the eWriter download page. Viewer redistributables have been updated as well:

About Ziphelp

On the surface, Ziphelp is HTML5 in a zip archive. Pack any folder with HTML pages into a regular zip file, rename the extension to “.zhelp” and the eWriter viewer will open it. This not just works for Help+Manual’s Webhelp output, but for any HTML.

But Ziphelp is more than that, it is a protocol based on the standard sitemap protocol, designed to give a help viewer extended information about the content of the help system, in order to provide context-sensitive help to an application. Locally, on the web, and mixed.

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Help+Manual 9.2 and Translation Assistant 9.2

We are glad to announce the immediate availability of Help+Manual 9.2 and Translation Assistant 9.2!

This maintenance update is mostly about convenience functions. Take the Find & Replace dialog as an example: the selection of the search range are now 3 buttons instead of a combo box and for text searches in the current topic, a “wrap around” option has been added.


Help+Manual 9.2

  • Mouse wheel: Mouse wheel changed from keyboard focus to the control under the mouse pointer, making it easier to scroll any control without first clicking on it.
  • Find & Replace dialog: The selector “Current topic/All topics/All from here” has been replaced with 3 buttons. This saves one mouse click when changing this option. Plus, for text searches in the current topic, a “wrap around” option has been added.
  • Open Project: The recent files list now has a new right-click menu entry: “Show in Windows Explorer“. This will open Windows Explorer and select the project file. The function is intended for easier navigation to a project, for changes to the project folder, or for making a copy of an existing project.
  • Topic Editor, Images: the context right-click menu for images in topics has a new entry: Picture > Show in Windows Explorer. This function locates the picture file on disk and opens Windows Explorer for picture manipulations. The feature is a similar convenience function like the Show in Windows Explorer option in the Open Project dialog.
  • Snippets in Topics: the right-click context menu of the topic editor has a new entry, if the selected object is a snippet: “Locate Snippet Source“.
  • Report Tool: Repository snippet references were displayed in red, indicating a missing status. In the full project report, comments were listed with an invalid date.
  • Project Overview Page: Statistic display changed to a bar diagram, faster calculation and faster display.
  • New variable introduced for figure links: <%HMFIGURENUMBER%>
    This variable can be alternatively used instead of <%HMFIGURECAPTION%>. While <%HMFIGURECAPTION%> returns the full string of the figure reference, <%HMFIGURENUMBER%> returns the number only.
  • Word/RTF import: new option to import anchors in topics. Anchors were assigned to links automatically, but the anchor objects were not imported. Furthermore, anchors in tables were not correctly resolved and could result in dead links.
  • Markdown import: UTF-8 strings with 3 or 4 bytes per character were not imported correctly.
  • HTML Help / CHM Export: if export option “Export SVG files as PNG” is set to true, math objects (equations) are exported as PNG files, not as inline SVG. This export option originally applied to external SVG files only and is not used for inline SVG as well.
  • Conditional Text/IFDEFs: when editing an IFDEF object, everything of the IFDEF string beyond 255 characters was truncated in the dialog initialization
  • Webhelp Export: updated search script for the PHP based full-text search now supports PHP 8. Full-text search page contained an error if Google Analytics 4 was not defined.
  • PDF Export: if the “Tables” section in the manual template was not used, but the document contained figure links, the figure tables were not automatically calculated prior to export.
  • PDF Export: some printing issues with figure tables fixed.
  • eWriter Export: eViewer v3.5 included (see below)
  • User Interface: Refresh Project button was disabled for repositories
  • Temporary files folder: if a fixed location was specified for the temp files folder (CHM export, eWriter, ePUB), the temp folder name included the project name only. If more than 1 project with the same file name (e.g. multiple languages of one project) were published at the same time, the folder names conflicted.


Translation Assistant 9.2

  • Mouse wheel: Mouse wheel changed from keyboard focus to the control under the mouse pointer, making it easier to scroll.
  • Topic Editor: Table functions implemented in right-click menu.
  • Topic Editor: The copy-paragraph function moves the keyboard focus to the target editor and auto-selects the copied text. Subsequently this activates the DeepL plugin for translation of the copied text in the target editor.


eWriter Viewer 3.5

  • Small bug fix when moving viewer window from one monitor to another.
  • When the viewer was called with a command line like ‘loadpage=index.html?page.html#anchor1’, and “page.html” was already loaded, it did not refresh and did not jump to the anchor.


Build-Update August 25, 2023

  • DeepL: Due to an internal change in the DeepL API, translation with API glossaries did no longer work. The DeepL translation plugin responded with an error “400: glossary_id not valid”. The problem affected both, Help+Manual and the Translation Assistant and has been fixed with a small build update.


All updates are available from our download page.

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Premium Pack 5.1.0 maintenance update

We’re glad to announce the update of the Help+Manual Premium Pack add-on to version 5.1.0. This update includes a number of small but significant improvements to almost all the skins and is recommended for all users.

How to get the update:

You can download and install the update with the link and credentials you received when you purchased. If you no longer have these, just contact support by email and we will help you out.

What’s new in version 5.1.0:

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HelpXplain 1.7 Released

We are glad to announce the release of HelpXplain 1.7. If your maintenance plan for HelpXplain includes the release date (July 2, 2023), this is a free update. The quickest way to find out, is to start HelpXplain and click Help > Check for Update.

HelpXplain 1.7

We haven’t had many updates of HelpXplain in the last 2 years, it stood back behind Help+Manual and the Translation Assistant. That’s going to change, because we have several plans with HelpXplain.

For one thing, we are working on a new screenshot editor that’s going to replace Impict, which has been shipping with Help+Manual for many years. The new screenshot editor with seamless integration into Help+Manual will be based on the library of HelpXplain. The new save-as-SVG function (see below) is one leg of that journey.

Despite this is just a point update, there are several new features:

  • HelpXplain is now 64 bit. The setup includes both the 32 and 64 bit versions with English and German user interface.
  • The setup can install either for all users (requires admin rights) or just for the current user (without admin rights).
  • You can choose the examples folder during the setup.
  • Insert shape dialog: new basic shapes, new numbering tags with auto-numbering in several styles!
  • Callout shapes support multiple pointers.
  • You can export a single slide in SVG format (in addition to JPEG/PNG/etc.).
  • When copying selected objects to the clipboard, the clipboard will also contain a transparent PNG image of the selected objects. This is a convenience function: if you use HelpXplain as an ad-hoc image editor, it makes copy and paste really simple.
  • DeepL translation adds 5 new languages: Turkish, Ukrainian, Indonesian, Norwegian (Bokmål) and Korean.
  • Several minor issues fixed (mostly drawing glitches on high-resolution monitors).


New Features in Detail

The really big news are new numbering tags with auto-numbering and callouts with support for multiple pointers. Internally, the numbering tags are treated like callouts and support multiple pointers as well:

New shapes in Version 1.7

Another new feature is a little bit hidden, but nonetheless an important one. HelpXplain can export a single slide in SVG format, in addition to PNG/JPEG/etc. SVG is a scalable vector graphic that you can use on any web page, including documentation created with Help+Manual. HelpXplain embeds all data from the slide and creates a single SVG file with no external dependencies. The beauty of SVG is that it freely scales, which means that the content of the picture scales to whatever resolution is required.

How to save a slide as SVG
Zoom-in to an SVG image created with HelpXplain



All updates are available from our download page. Download and install the update over your existing version of HelpXplain.

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Test: Help+Manual on M1 Macs under Parallels 18

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been testing Help+Manual and related tools on the latest version of Windows 11 for ARM running on an M1 Mac under the new Parallels 18 virtual machine program.

Conclusion first: It works. Cautious recommendation

I can cautiously recommend Parallels 18 for running Help+Manual and its necessary helper programs under the current and latest version of Windows 11 for ARM. Earlier versions of Windows 11 ARM and earlier versions of Parallels will NOT work satisfactorily, but these latest versions appear to be surprisingly good.

Warning: It is still early days, so this recommendation remains cautious. Even though everything appears to be stable, I still wouldn’t yet depend on it if I was buying a new computer as my only machine. However, I would already feel pretty good about using this as a second machine, provided I had a genuine, Intel-based Windows machine as a backup.

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