How to use “REimport” feature

Version 3.11.4 introduces new feature called “REimport”. What is it for?

Let’s consider this scenario  – you start your help project by importing html/rtf/txt files that you already have as documentation, do some alterations, formatting, screenshots, etc and all over sudden source documents change and you have two options – copy/paste them manually or import all documents and start your help project from scratch. Sad.

But not any more. Now you can selectively import changed documents into existing topics.

First, scroll the project tree down to the “Tools” node and select “REimport” sub node.



If your documents were imported with version 3.11.4 and above, “File name” and “Path” columns should be filled with paths of source documents. In our case we have old project with blank columns. Helpinator will remember selected file names for future use.

First of all check topics to import with check boxes in the first column. Then select file names to import – double click the cell next to the topic title and select file name in the dialog that appears.

When everything is set and done click “Run” button on the toolbar below “REimport” title.

How to use “Batch Compile” to create different versions of your documentation

“Batch compile” feature not only allows you to compile all supported help and documentation formats using only a couple of clicks. It also allows you to compile different versions of documentation based on preset and conditional compilation described in this post:

In this post we’ll use “Conditional Output” sample project from the set of Helpinator samples included with installation.



This simple demo has PRO and FREE presets and “Topic 1.1” which is to be published only when “PRO” preset is selected.

Open this sample (Welcome screen->Samples->More Samples) and click “Batch compile”.

Helpinator 3.11.1 - CUsersPublicDocumentsHelpinator Samplesconditions.hpz (Registered to Dmitri Popov)


1. Double-click “PDF” in the list on the left to add two “Compile PDF” tasks.

2. Enter “Save to” paths. In our case we will store two files (for Free and Pro editions respectively) into out project’s help folder. {%PRESET%} placeholder will be replaced with the selected preset name. You can also use variable names in this field.

3. Select “FREE” preset for the first task and “PRO” fro the second.


Batch Compile


Now you can click “Compile” and Helpinator will create two PDF files: “FREE.pdf” and “PRO.pdf”, the first one will go without “Topic 1.1” (as indicated by it’s “Skip topic“ condition).

How to create different versions of documentation from the same source

OK, Helpinator is a multi-format single source help authoring tool, e.g. you can create help files and documentation in different formats from the same source. But what if you need different versions of content? Say, your app has two edition: Pro and Lite with different sets of features and you need to create CHM help files for both editions. What to do? Create different help projects for each edition? NO! Use conditional output!

Conditional output is based on variables. Variable values control conditional statements, that in their turn alter output at compile time. Helpinator has special type of variables that allow to switch their values quickly. Values of these variables depend on which values preset is selected at compile time. Take a look at the “Variables” tab of project options. At the bottom of it there’s “Preset” drop-down list and commands to add, rename and delete presets. Let’s add two presets: “PRO” and “LITE”.



Now we can add control variable that we will use in conditional statements. Let’s call it “EDITION”.



Set it’s value to “PRO” for PRO preset and “LITE” for LITE preset.

Now when “PRO” preset is selected this variable has PRO value in it and LITE when “LITE” preset is selected.

There are two ways you can control output:

  1. Via IF directives in the topic content
  2. Via topic inclusion condition


First let’s see how to use IF directive. Say, our help project has “Features” topic with a list of features in it. Remember, our PRO and LITE editions have different sets of features. You can use a directive like this to make topic “Features” contain only features of LITE or PRO editions:



But that’s only one problem. Our help project also contains separate topics for each of the features and we do not want to include topics with features of PRO edition into the help file of LITE edition. This is where topic inclusion condition comes in help. Take a look at the bottom of the topic editor, there’s “Skip topic” tab. It contains “Skip when condition is FALSE” field, it allows you to set condition for topic inclusion. In our case we’ll create a condition EDITION=’PRO’ for the topics that cover features of PRO edition, so they will be included in PRO edition help file and skipped from LITE edition help file:



Hope this little tutorial will help you to get familiar with conditional compilation. Also there’s a sample project with the same name that you can access via “Samples” section of the welcome screen. Click “More samples” and select “Conditional output” from the list.

How to Use Code Snippets

Version 3.7 introduces new feature – “Code Snippets”. Essentially, “code snippet” is a formatted portion of code you use in your help file to show how to use your library, document API or something like that. Helpinator now has “Code snippets” manager, code editor with syntax highlighting and a new pseudo-tag to insert code snippets into editor.

Here’s how it looks like.

Code snippets manager. You can hide it from the tree and show again using the visibility control button on the left.



You can add, rename and delete snippets and also import them from the file.


Code editor looks like this:



It has cut/copy/paste/import from file toolbar buttons and syntax selector.


To insert code snippet into topic editor use “CODE” pseudo-tag like this:



On compile time Helpinator will turn a snippet into corresponding format. Here how it looks like in CHM:



And in PDF:



How to use “Global Spellcheck” tool



With “Global Spellcheck” tool you can spellcheck all topics in your project at once. First click “Options” and check that correct dictionaries are selected. Then click “Run” and wait for the process to finish. When it’s done the table will show you misspelled words, what topics are they in and suggestions for each word. Click on a suggestion to see other suggestions.

Now you need to select action for each word. Default is “Replace”, e.g. this word will be replaced by the one in the “Suggestions” column. Another options are:

– Ignore – this word will be ignored in further checks.

– Add to dict – this word will be added to your custom dictionary.

When you have set up all actions you can click “Apply” and the required changes will be made.

How to use “Screenshots” tool



With “Screenshots” tool you can capture active windows and store captured images to the project’s Image Library. You have the following options:

– “File name format”. Here you can specify naming rule for captured images. You can use several predefined placeholders:

Name Description
WINCAP Caption of the captured window
EXT Extension of the image format (see below)
HOUR Current hour
MIN Current minute
SEC Current second


– “Image Format” – specifies image format to store images to. You can select between PNG, BMP, JPEG and GIF.

– “Create topic” – if this option is checked then right after a window is stored to the library Helpinator creates topic with the same name containing captured image.

– “Append to topic” – if this option is checked and topic is selected from the drop-down list, Helpinator adds captured image to the end of the topic.

– “Background width” – specify what part of the active window background to capture along with the window itself. For example, if set to 30 pixels, then Helpinator will capture active window and surroundings with 30 pixels to the left, right, top and bottom. Set to 0 if you don’t want to capture background.

– “Background Effect” – select effect to apply to the background of the window. You can select from Blur, Darken, Pixelate and so on.

– “Drop shadow” – check this if you want active window to have a shadow on the background.

All this options combined allow you to take screenshots like this:


– “Hotkey” – select hotkey to trigger screen capture. Default is “Ctrl-Alt-S”

To start capturing images click on “Start” button.

How to use “Context IDs” tool


With “Context IDs” tool you can view and edit all Context IDs assigned to topics in your project. When you edit Context ID value in the corresponding column changes automatically propagate to topic itself. Now you don’t need to browse through topics when you need to change all or several Context IDs and once.

Note that you can use “Topic Titles and Ids” report to print context ID of all topics in the project.

Also you can automatically generate header files for C++, VB and Delphi with topic identifiers and Context IDs using “Main Menu->Tools->Generate headers”.