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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:

http://www.helpinator.com/blog/2013/06/20/how-to-create-different-versions-of-documentation-from-the-same-source/

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

image

 

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”.

var1

 

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

var2

 

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:

ifcondition

 

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:

skiptopic

 

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.

Helpinator 3.11

In this update:

  • Now you can embed video into topics (both from video hosting services like YouTube and from local files)
  • Updated templates (both HTML and RTF based)
  • Updated welcome screen
  • Updated documentation
  • bugfixes

Java Help Systems Supported By Helpinator

As of version 3.10 Helpinator supports the following Java-oriented help systems:

  1. OracleHelp,
  2. JavaHelp
  3. HelpGUI

 

1. OracleHelp

The most powerful and well-thought help system for Java created by Oracle Corporation. Has two “branches”: OracleHelp for Java and OracleHelp for Web. New versions come out regularly.

Blog post about OracleHelp:

http://www.helpinator.com/blog/2013/02/24/version-3-10-oraclehelp/

2. JavaHelp

Original Java help system. Outdated and is not under active development.

Blog post about JavaHelp:

http://www.helpinator.com/blog/2013/01/10/version-3-9-javahelp/

3. HelpGUI

A lightweight help system with a limited set of features.

http://www.helpinator.com/helpgui.html

Version 3.10: OracleHelp

Version 3.10 adds new output format: OracleHelp. This format and help system is maintained by Oracle. It has two “modes”

1. OracleHelp for Java – for use with Java applications

2. OracleHelp for Web – for use as a WebHelp.

 

Using Helpinator you can create source data for both “modes”. It creates “books” for all languages in the project and OracleHelp for Web configuration file.

Also Helpinator creates “launcher.cmd” file for easy testing of your help system.

You can read more about OracleHelp here:

http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/topics/index-083946.html

 

How to compile OracleHelp:

1. Download and install JDK:

2. Download and install OracleHelp

http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/developer-tools/help/utilsoft-ohw-422139.html

3. Set Helpinator options (Main Menu->Tools->Options, “Compilers” tab)

enoptionsoraclehelp

 

4. Now you can click “Compile OracleHelp” on the main tool bar.

oraclehelptoolbar

 

Compiled OracleHelp looks like this:

oraclehelp-contents

oraclehelp-topic