What's new in Help+Manual 8?

Version 8 of Help+Manual includes a wide range of major improvements and new features. Some that users have been asking for, some that will surprise and, we very much hope, delight you. The user interface is more modern and attractive and works even better than before on modern, high-resolution Windows displays.

The eWriter format now has its own stand-alone viewer, making it a fully-fledged alternative to obsolete CHM files for local software help.

You get a LaTeX-based formula editor, a machine translation plugin, PDF peer review features that synchronize the PDF with your project, an advanced new screen capture module and much more besides.

 

 

New Plugin System (PDF Review, Translation)

UI Detail Plugin System

Help+Manual 8 has a new interface for external plugins that will allow a wide range of external HTML-based enhancements in the future, including things like translation tools and grammar checkers. The initial release comes with the first two plugins that add very powerful features to the program:

DeepL machine translation plugin

DeepL is by far the best machine translation system that is generally available today. Compared to all other previous systems, it actually produces results that are usable with only a small amount of human editing.

You just select the text you want to translate in your topic and click on Translate in the plugin pane to translate it to the target language, keeping all the original formatting intact.

PDF review plugin

You create the PDF with Help+Manual, including your own comments, and distribute it to your colleagues for additional comments, which they add with their own PDF commenting tool.

When they return the commented PDF to you, you open it with the plugin in Help+Manual and it shows you all the comments side by side with the topic selected in Help+Manual.

Floating Server Licenses with Checkout

Floating server licenses can now be used anywhere, not just on your local network. Our original Server license system was conceived before the onset of cloud computing. The licenses only worked if all users were on the same local network. In today's world, that no longer makes sense. Users work on the go, from home, in coffee shops and on planes. Our customers wanted floating licenses that they could use for both permanent and occasional users in any locations.

How the new floating Server licenses work

Each user installs Help+Manual normally on their own computer. No more running Help+Manual via the network.

You give the user a license key that they check out. An Internet connection is required for checking out the license, but after that it can be used offline for up to 8 days, after which it is released automatically if it is not checked out again.

Benefits of the new floating Server license system

You no longer have to install Help+Manual on your own server. The license system is managed by our server, which only manages checking out the licenses.

Every user installs the program normally on their own computer, so you no longer have the problem of starting and running the program over network connections.

You can assign temporary licenses to occasional users for any purpose: contributing authors, translators, proofreaders and so on.

Server licenses can now be used anywhere in the world, even on planes provided they are checked out before takeoff.

Users in other locations no longer have to have a full Professional license to be able to work on version control projects. They can also use a floating license assigned to them temporarily while they are working on the project.

Animated Screencasts and new Screen Capture Tool

Help+Manual 8 introduces a completely new and much more advanced screen capture tool.

This tool supports:

The animated HelpXplain screencasts can be created and included in your projects without having HelpXplain. Help+Manual 8 will compile the animated Xplains and integrate them in your WebHelp, eWriter and CHM output. If you get HelpXplain as well you can edit them further and add background audio, audio narration and additional elements and effects.

Formula Editor and New Symbol Dialog

The many scientists and mathematicians who work with Help+Manual will love this: The new integrated formula editor is LaTeX-based and includes expression checking. You can build your own formulas directly in the editor with a wide range of selectable element and expression types, or just paste in your own LaTeX formula code.

This solves the problem of the missing or incompatible formula editor in MS Office (depending on your Office version), which can no longer be used to insert formulas in Help+Manual projects.

 

New Symbol Dialog, export Symbol fonts to SVG

You can add individual and groups of symbol characters to the new Custom Symbols list in the Insert Symbol tool for quick access.

Symbol fonts are very practical for inserting special characters and symbols, but they often cause problems in PDF and HTML. Embedding symbol fonts in PDF sometimes doesn't work well, and embedded fonts in HTML pages are often blocked by browser security settings.

 

The solution: Convert symbol fonts to SVG

Help+Manual 8 can be configured to convert symbol fonts like the open-source Font Awesome and other, user-configurable fonts to high-quality SVG vector images on export. These images are fully scalable and broadly supported, so they will display correctly in all output formats. The color and size match the text, background colors are possible.

 

PDF: Rotated Print, Table of Figures, HelpXplain

Table of Figures, Table of Tables

The tables of figures are configured in the Tables section in the print manual template, which you edit in Manual Designer.

A new object type called Figure Caption is the most flexible kind of counter. You can insert them anywhere in your topics to create captions for images, tables and any other numbered elements you want to use, list and reference in your projects.

 

Mixed portrait/landscape layouts

The page break tool now includes the ability to switch between portrait and landscape orientation in the middle of a PDF document or printed manual. Since this is set with page breaks it is possible to include just portions of your text in landscape mode, for example a very wide table.

 

Print options for HelpXplain media

Animated infographics created with HelpXplain cannot be animated in print formats like PDF and Word, of course.

You now have two options for handling animated Xplains in print output:

 

User Interface, Editing and Formatting

Enhanced high-resolution support

The entire user interface has been optimized for display on modern, high-resolution monitors and devices. This includes both higher resolution icons and controls and the new screen capture tool, which can now handle multiple monitors with different resolutions connected to the same computer.

Workspaces: Save your project setups for different tasks

In Windows 10 you can save "virtual desktops" with different configurations of programs for different tasks. Workspaces in Help+Manual are similar. They allow you to save the "set" of projects you are currently working on to a file so that you can then reload it in one easy process, instead of manually re-opening all the projects.

Save/Load Preferences

The Save/Load Preferences tool saves your program settings, recently-edited projects and much more to a simple text file. You can use this to load your desktop settings on your laptop computer, for example, or for restoring all your settings when you are upgrading to a new computer.

Stand-alone eWriter Viewer that auto-installs

We now provide an eWriter Viewer program that Windows 10 users get automatically from the Windows Store when they open an .ewriter help file or eBook. Free installers are available for the same viewer for earlier versions of Windows.

Project reports

Topics in the project report can now also be sorted by user names, along with the modification date.

New project overview

Recent changes are now shown in a clearer layout when you select the main project node in the Project Explorer. A new convenience function opens a recently modified topic and shows the current and previous version side by side (if project history is switched on for that project).

Rotated text in tables

You can now rotate text in tables to display it horizontally or vertically or a combination of both.

Magnifying glass icon on image toggles

Image toggles are now exported with a magnifying glass icon that make its function obvious to the user.

Export wide range of symbol fonts as SVG glyphs

Symbol fonts with scalable icons often cause problems in PDF output. Help+Manual can now convert these fonts to scalable SVG graphics with the same quality as font characters. The setting for this is in Publishing Options > PDF > Font Embedding.

Google Analytics: new tracking script with more options

Webhelp output includes a new Google Analytics tracking script. You can specify the tracker name (if not specified, the default name is used) and optionally track not just page names, but page names with path. This is especially useful if you have multiple Webhelp systems online that all report to the same GA account.

Premium Pack v4 Update

Premium Pack 4 introduces a range of modern new skin variants with full color configurability with an easy-to-use interface. The WordPress plugin has been updated to allow access to multiple WebHelp collections on a single WordPress site. The popular V3 skins for WebHelp and eWriter are also included, along with the V2 Webhelp/eWriter skins and CHM skins for the many customers who still use them.

 

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I've been using H+M since HM3 and it's amazing to look back and see how the product has evolved and how much work has gone into it over the years. I hope Help+Manual sells well for you and that EC Software continues to go from strength to strength. Well done!

Martin Wynne, customer since 2003