eBook format creation

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eBook format creation

Unread postby Sue King » Tue Mar 28, 2017 2:15 am

Hi,

I am trying to use FinalBuilder to create my help files.

I have the problem with chm files having their index/search/toc panes corrupted when help is spawned from a Delphi VCL application using styles.

Following some earlier posts about this, I converted to building the eBook format. However this appears to have Help and Manual permanently used for the company in the Short Menu created.

I downloaded the eWriter exe provided and was able to generate a manual with the required company showing in the menu.

It seems that eWriter cannot be run from the command line. Is there a way to do this so that it can be run from FB ?
Is there a way to customise the menu when creating an eBook in H&M ?

Either solution allows generating the file in FB.

I'd like to stick with the eBook format, as it is more modern looking than chm.

H&M Version 7.2.0 Build 4035, Windows 10 64bit. FB 8.

TIA

Sue
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Re: eBook format creation

Unread postby Tim Green » Tue Mar 28, 2017 7:51 am

Hi Sue,

There's absolutely no need any more to use the stand-alone EWriter program. All its functionality is now integrated in Help+Manual 7, and you can generate your EWriter books from the command line there just like any other format. Just make sure that you are using the current version of the program (7.2.0 Build 4035) -- you can get the update installer here if you need it: http://www.helpandmanual.com/downloads.html?upd Just install on top of your current version to update.

That all being said, we would like to know how your TOC, search and index panes are getting corrupted in CHM. If Final Builder is just running Help+Manual from the command line to generate CHM from a project, that shouldn't be possible. If you could send a demo project to support AT ec-software.com (replace the AT with @) so that we can check what's going on it would be helpful. :)
Regards,
Tim (EC Software Documentation & User Support)

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Re: eBook format creation

Unread postby Sue King » Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:48 am

Hi Tim,

I have used FB to create the eBook directly. The reason I was trying to use eWriter is that I can't see how to modify the menu in the eBook to link to the customer web site and not Help and Manual web site. Can you point me to some help for this ?

FB have made a change today to enable a selected skin to be used when generating the eBook.

I don't think the problem is with the FB generated CHM file. The problem occurs with the CHM if the calling program (built with Berlin Upd2) is using a style. If there is no style, the CHM works fine. I will try a CHM created from H&M using the UI tomorrow, and confirm this.

I'm also challenged by getting the eBook to close when the application closes, but that is another problem for tomorrow.

I prefer the eBook output to CHM, so would really like to get it working properly if I can.

If you would still like a sample program, I can put something together tomorrow. (It is 8:40pm and I'm finished for the day).

Regards
Sue
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Re: eBook format creation

Unread postby Tim Frost » Tue Mar 28, 2017 3:29 pm

I have used both FinalBuilder and Help & Manual for many years and I have seen your postings in the Finalbuilder forum. I had intended to post there but saw this topic first today!

We generate three types of help (Web, PDF and EBook) from the same large project, but the principle is the same even if you only use one: we simply ignore the FinalBuilder H&M actions and use an Execute Program action instead to run HELPMAN.exe, passing to it as parameters the project file and an INI file with all the options we need, which then runs all three of our help builds. This still reports all the H&M output in the FB log file.

The INI file always gives you access to all available H&M options, even for a new H&M release before FinalBuilder is updated (though this is commendably quick, usually). We also use FinalBuilder to write the build information into a variables.txt file, referenced using 'V=' from the INI, and to write the INI file itself. This maintains the ability to have all our build steps held inside a FinalBuilder project, without risk of the INI file getting accidentally edited during the authoring process.

The INI format needed for H&M is a little terse, but well documented, and you should not need to change it often.
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Re: eBook format creation

Unread postby Sue King » Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:56 pm

Hi Tim,

Thanks for the suggestion.

I can create the eBook successfully now in FB using the H&M action.

A fresh look this morning enabled me to find the customisation of the eBook I had missed yesterday.

My only challenge now is closing the eBook when the application closes.

Sue
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Re: eBook format creation

Unread postby Martin Wynne » Wed Mar 29, 2017 12:56 am

Sue King wrote:My only challenge now is closing the eBook when the application closes.

Hi Sue,

In your application's closing function:

Code: Select all
  viewer_str:=path_str+'ewriter.exe';
  content_str:='close';

  if ShellExecute(0,'open',PChar(viewer_str),PChar(content_str),nil,SW_SHOWNORMAL)<=32
     then ShowMessage('Sorry, unable to close the Help window. Please close it if no longer needed.');

regards,

Martin.
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Re: eBook format creation

Unread postby Sue King » Wed Mar 29, 2017 7:11 am

Hi Martin,

I have just seen your reply after spending most of the day getting it closing using the process handle from CreateProcess, success coming about 10 minutes ago.

Creating the task with the 'close' parameter is much easier and more reliable.

Thanks,

Sue
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Re: eBook format creation

Unread postby Sue King » Wed Mar 29, 2017 7:13 am

Hi Tim,

I have sent through a test project as requested.

If you need anything else, please let me know.

Regards
Sue
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Re: eBook format creation

Unread postby Martin Wynne » Wed Mar 29, 2017 12:12 pm

Sue King wrote:have just seen your reply after spending most of the day getting it closing using the process handle from CreateProcess, success coming about 10 minutes ago. Creating the task with the 'close' parameter is much easier and more reliable.

Hi Sue,

It is in fact documented, see:

http://help.ec-software.com/index.html? ... writer.htm

but I confess that I also spent a long time trying other ways before finding that page.

Tim, perhaps "Linking to EWriter topics" isn't the obvious place to find this info?

regards,

Martin.
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Re: eBook format creation

Unread postby Tim Green » Wed Mar 29, 2017 12:52 pm

Martin Wynne wrote:Tim, perhaps "Linking to EWriter topics" isn't the obvious place to find this info?

Yes, I'm not so happy with that location myself. Do you have a good suggestion for an additional place for it that you would find more naturally?
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Re: eBook format creation

Unread postby Martin Wynne » Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:17 pm

Tim Green wrote:Yes, I'm not so happy with that location myself. Do you have a good suggestion for an additional place for it that you would find more naturally?

Hi Tim,

This seems to be the obvious place:

http://help.ec-software.com/index.html? ... ks_exe.htm

But looking at the number of further links on that page, it does seem that EWriter info is scattered over a wide area. I would prefer a main chapter called EWriter in its own right, and not muddled up with the other eBook formats.

But what I would really like is a button within H&M itself, like this:

ewriter_help_wish.png

(And the same on many of the other configuration dialogs.)

regards,

Martin.
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Re: eBook format creation

Unread postby Tim Green » Wed Mar 29, 2017 3:32 pm

Hi Martin,

Thanks. I'll see what I can get done for the 7.3 update... :)
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Re: eBook format creation

Unread postby Sue King » Wed Mar 29, 2017 11:17 pm

Hi Tim,

In the help you mention that the eBook can be distributed with an integrated viewer or a separate viewer. As a real newbie at this, I couldn't find anything to describe why you might want it separate, and if so, how to create the separate data file and use with the viewer. What would the viewer be in this case ?

This isn't important for my original problem, but is something that I thought might be useful in Help for other newbies.

Thanks again,
Sue
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Re: eBook format creation

Unread postby Martin Wynne » Wed Mar 29, 2017 11:54 pm

Sue King wrote:As a real newbie at this, I couldn't find anything to describe why you might want it separate, and if so, how to create the separate data file and use with the viewer.

Hi Sue,

When you use conventional Webhelp, you can update it for your users, respond to feedback, etc., more frequently than upgrades to your application. Daily if you wish. If you distribute a CHM file or a single EWriter file with your application, the Help is fixed until the next application upgrade.

With a separate EWriter data file, you can distribute just a basic viewer executable with your application. The application can then download the latest data file, so that the EWriter can be updated as frequently as for Webhelp. The data file is not an executable file, so it can be downloaded without any security warnings.

You may also want to have multiple data files, downloading different versions for different users or versions of your application.

I'm using EWriter this way and it is great. My application checks for the availability of an updated data file on startup and downloads it if any.

So why not just use Webhelp? Because EWriter has the brilliant ability to launch executable files, which you can't do from Webhelp. Which means you can have all sorts of interactive wizards, tutorials, videos, entire sub-applications, switches within your main application, etc. Anything you choose to write.

regards,

Martin.
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Re: eBook format creation

Unread postby Sue King » Thu Mar 30, 2017 11:41 pm

Hi Martin,

I like your suggestion.

The thing I found difficult to understand was how to create a separate eBook data file and use an eWriter to display it.

There is a post by Simon on July 2016 which has the steps clearly spelt out, and meant the 'penny dropped' finally.

I could not find anything in the manual that clearly explained that you create and eWriter from a 'dummy' help file, and then publish the 'real' manual to an extension other than exe to get the data file and use them together. It does say to create a data file with a different extension, but I didn't understand how to then use that file.

Bye bye CHM.

Sue
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