HelpSmith 3.4 Enables Integration of Help Systems with YouTube and Google Analytics

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Divcom Software recently released HelpSmith 3.4, a new version of the help authoring tool for software developers and technical writers. The new HelpSmith update allows users of the product to easily integrate their help systems with popular Internet services. Now the user can insert custom HTML code directly into help topics or topic templates, which provides almost unlimited possibilities to tech writers. Thus, you can insert video directly from YouTube, add Google Analytics tracking code to your help systems, or use JavaScript.

The new release of HelpSmith, a help authoring tool known for its powerful features which are combined with an easy-to-use interface and slight learning curve, introduces new possibilities. One of the main features implemented in HelpSmith 3.4 is the ability to insert custom HTML code into any place of a help topic or topic template, which provides many new possibilities to help writers. Thus, a user of HelpSmith can easily integrate video clips located on any video hosting including YouTube. Another use of the new feature is adding Google Analytics tracking code into your Web Help system, so you can get statistical information about the visitors. Of course, these are not the only cases where the new HTML insertion functionality can be applied.

Since HelpSmith 3.4 it becomes possible to easily generate SEO-friendly URLs for help topics, which are based on the values of topic textual identifiers. This is very important because modern search engines including Google take into account keywords in URLs for ranking pages in search results. The new feature is completely automatic and activated on new help projects by default; on existing help projects you should simply enable the appropriate project option.

HelpSmith 3.4 also includes other enhancements. Now HelpSmith users are able to automate creation of their help systems, thanks to the command line support. For example, if your team prefer to automate the process of creating product builds, help files can also be created automatically: the command line parameters allow you to specify the output help format (HTML Help or Web Help, for example), select the output directory, and even override values of variables used in the help project. Thus, the given feature can save much of the time spent on creating product builds.

“In this HelpSmith update we’ve added features that give new possibilities to software developers and technical writers, who create help systems for their products. Now you can easily insert video into help files from YouTube or similar services. We’ve also implemented other useful features requested by many HelpSmith users. As a result, HelpSmith has practically everything needed for quick and easy creation of high quality help systems,” said Eugene Ivanov, Divcom Software.

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HelpSmith 3 is Released

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Divcom Software announces the release of HelpSmith 3. This version of the popular help authoring tool introduces new features such as a possibility to create topic Templates, use text Variables both in the built-in word processor and almost everywhere in the entire help project.

There is also a new customizable Breadcrumbs object which is replaced in the compiled help system with the location of the selected help topic in the Table of Contents. Depending on the settings of the Breadcrumbs placeholder and structure of your help system, the path can also include clickable hyperlinks for easier navigation through the parent chapters.

HelpSmith Main Window

Another great feature of HelpSmith 3 is the ability to create permanent topic headers that are not scrolled with the topic’s main content. Such a header or Non-scrolling Area usually contains the topic’s title and navigation elements. The Non-scrolling Area works in the HTML Help as well as in Web Help output help format. Unlike other help authoring tools, the developers of HelpSmith continue to follow the “What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get” principle, so the Non-scrolling Area can be easily added for a template or for an individual topic directly in the HelpSmith’s built-in word processor.

The developers have also added new possibilities making it quite easy to provide a Context-sensitive Web Help system for your web application. A Web Help system generated with HelpSmith contains built-in scripts that process URL parameters for displaying a specific help topic. So you can simply add hyperlinks from your web application to specific help topics of your Web Help system and such a link will display the required topic and save all the navigation frames. Moreover, the topic displayed will be found and highlighted in the Table of Contents.

There are also other new possibilities added in the new HelpSmith release. You can read the full list of new features and improvements in the blog of the HelpSmith team. Or, you can visit the HelpSmith’s official website and download the latest version of this great product.

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Help Authoring on Steroids

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An article from HelpSmith’s website, a powerful yet very easy-to-use help authoring tool with dynamic styles and other unique features.

As a technical writer you might have tried many help authoring tools - from low cost applications to complex and expensive systems. So now you may be asking yourself why you should choose HelpSmith for your help project. There is no need to say that HelpSmith is a fast, powerful, and affordable help authoring tool. Let’s better take a look at what you can do with it.

Create HTML Help (CHM) Files
With HelpSmith, you can easily create CHM (HTML Help) files. Based upon the What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get principle, HelpSmith provides you with a powerful word processor with native support for dynamic styles and the live spell checker feature. So the process of working on a help system simply gets to a new quality level. You can use graphical images, insert tables, create hyperlinks, and so on. Finally, being a complete help authoring solution, HelpSmith allows you to create the Table of Contents and the keyword Index for your help file just in several minutes due to the built-in editors with drag-and-drop support.

Create Web Help from the Same Source Help Project
You can create Web Help by exporting all the data from your help project into a series of HTML files: simply click the “Create Web Help” command on the “Project” menu or click the corresponding button on the toolbar (similarly to when you export your help project into other help formats) and HelpSmith will prepare all the necessary files. A WebHelp system generated with HelpSmith includes a collapsible Table of Contents (similar to the TOC in CHM), an alphabetical Index, and the Search feature.

All you have to do then is just upload all the files of your Web Help system to your web server or simply copy them to a shared folder if you want to provide access for other people in your corporate network.

Supply Printed Manual Documentation
You can use HelpSmith to supply technical documentation both in the electronic and printed formats. With HelpSmith, you can see all the results as they are before the final version of the documentation is compiled or printed out. You can print out the manual directly from HelpSmith; or you can export the manual into MS Word, for example, to demonstrate it to your clients who may have no HelpSmith installed on their computer.

Get the Power of Dynamic Styles
Mentioned above, the HelpSmith system of dynamic styles is a unique but must-have feature for any help authoring tool. Dynamic styles allow you to store all formatting information separately from topic documents, which lets you make any changes in formatting at any time without having to manually process lots of help topics.

Moreover, with dynamic styles, you do not have to apply the same attributes over and over while writing help topics. Simply select the part of text and then double-click the necessary style to set the required formatting attributes to the selection.

Additionally, HelpSmith allows you to specify alternative views for a particular style… Read More…

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Graphics in Help Files

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Using screenshots in help files makes your program much easier to learn and more comprehensible. But simple screenshots, which just demonstrate your program working, are not enough. The screenshots should include so-called hotspots. These are predefined regions that can be clicked on by the user to display context-sensitive information.

How do you create images with hotspots? This functionality is provided with the Segmented Hyper Graphics (.SHG) file format, which was developed for use with WinHelp (.HLP) files. However, Help Development Studio lets you easily use .SHG files for both WinHelp (.HLP) and HTML Help (.CHM) files. All you need to do is simply insert a .SHG file into the text of a topic and compile your help file. With Help Development Studio, you can use .SHG files in HTML Help as if they were .BMP, .JPG, .GIF or any other graphical file formats.

We offer an excellent tool, which has been specifically designed to create images and screenshots to be used in help files. This is Hotspot Builder, another of the help authoring products available on our Web site. Hotspot Builder is not just an editor of Segmented Hyper Graphics (.SHG) files; it is also a powerful tool for the efficient creation of screenshots and processing of images. The program includes a variety of different screen capturing tools such as “spy-tool”, which allows you to make screenshots by capturing only the required dialog-boxes. There is no need to copy an entire window and paste it to a separate editor like Paint, via the Windows Clipboard.

Moreover, Hotspot Builder allows you to change image color depth and also includes some special features for preparing Segmented Hyper Graphics (.SHG) to be used in HTML Help. This would make the tool useful for those who would like to use .SHG in their HTML Help Workshop (.HHP) projects, but prefer not to use Help Development Studio. As mentioned above, Help Development Studio fully supports the Segmented Hyper Graphics format and automatically compiles .SHG files into a HTML Help (.CHM) file, therefore, Hotspot Builder’s special HTML features are not required by those users. This, of course, does not diminish the usefulness of Hotspot Builder for Help Development Studio users, who will find it to be an indispensable member in their help authoring toolkit.

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