Help Authoring on Steroids
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 professional HTML Help CHM 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.
An HTML Help System Created with HelpSmith
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.
|Sample of a Web Help System
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.
|A Printed Manual Generated with HelpSmith
Use Templates to Easily Customize the Appearance of Help Topics
Templates is a simple yet very powerful feature of HelpSmith, allowing you to prepare the common layout of help topics. The main idea of a Template is to let you create a document which, unlike a regular help topic, contains common parts used in more than one help topic such as the topic's header or footer. Of course, you can specify where the actual topic's content should be placed - by inserting a special Topic Content Placeholder object.
HelpSmith allows you to create an unlimited number of Templates and apply them to all or to individual help topics. You can also set different Templates to be used for the same help topics depending on the output help format.
The fact that you edit Templates using the HelpSmith's built-in word processor gives you complete freedom in creating an original design for your help topics. So while working on a custom template, you can insert Graphics, Tables, Breadcrumbs objects, Variables, add a Non-Scrolling Area, and use any other objects supported with HelpSmith.
Thus, the benefits of Templates are obvious. With this great feature you can create and change the appearance of the entire help system without having to spend much time on editing each and every help topic of your help project. Moreover, HelpSmith offers some standard Templates making it extremely easy to provide professional design for your help file without having to do anything.
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 (including your own styles), so the same style can have different views when the project is compiled into HTML Help, Web Help, or exported as a printed manual.
Thus, dynamic styles will save much of your time and significantly speed up the process of writing technical documentation and help files.
Manage Graphical and Video Files Effectively as Never Before
HelpSmith allows you to use graphical and video files in your help files and provides an advanced way to manage that multimedia. All media files that you insert into your help project automatically get into the built-in repository. This approach makes it possible for you not to care about copying any file from its original location on your hard disk. In case you need to copy the entire help project to another computer, for example, in order to make a backup copy, all multimedia files are already stored in a single place together with your help project.
Another benefit of the multimedia repository is that you can update any graphical file without having to edit all the topics where that media appears. For example, if you have a dialog box that has changes in the new version of your application, you can create a new screenshot and insert it into the repository instead of the obsolete one.
|Single Media Repository
Additionally, HelpSmith includes an automatic converter for graphical formats that can convert bitmaps (.BMP) or metafiles into a more appropriate graphical format such as .PNG, .JPEG, or .GIF when you compile your help project into HTML Help or Web Help, for example.
No Need to Know Anything about HTML/CSS Coding
HelpSmith is very easy to use just like any regular office application we use duirng our everyday computer activities. So even if you are new to help authoring, you can start writing help files and documentation without having to learn anything about technical issues of creating help files. There is no need to code .HTML or .CSS or even know anything about it. By concentrating on writing with the help of such tools as dynamic styles, you will complete your help project much faster than it could be done with any other help authoring software.