Roadmap for HelpXplain

HelpXplain is the exciting new animated infographics and screencast tool that integrates with Help+Manual.

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pl labrie
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Re: Roadmap for HelpXplain

Unread post by pl labrie » Tue Jul 16, 2019 11:15 pm

Thanks for the quick update!

Is it possible to do an "exe" with a presentation!

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Tim Green
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Re: Roadmap for HelpXplain

Unread post by Tim Green » Wed Jul 17, 2019 6:33 am

pl labrie wrote:Thanks for the quick update!

Is it possible to do an "exe" with a presentation!
During development we actually had eWriter EXE files as an output option for a while but it wasn't implemented in the final release. The rationale was that for something like this you really don't want to be distributing EXE files that are quite problematic: You have to sign them, and even then users are very suspicious of them if you are giving them an EXE just to view something. When installing help for a Windows application with eWriter it's not such a big problem, but an eWriter containing an Xplain would be like a movie, and users would be rightly reluctant to click on an EXE from a potentially unknown source just to view a short presentation. :?
Regards,
Tim (EC Software Documentation & User Support)

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Sue King
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Re: Roadmap for HelpXplain

Unread post by Sue King » Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:03 am

I would like to have a menu in one of my exes that has items such as

'How do I do x ?', which when clicked runs an Xplain.

I use EBooks for my help. Would it work to have a separate EBook with each topic being a tutorial that I can then call as if it was context sensitive help ?

Do you have any other suggestions for this ?

Sue

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Martin Wynne
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Re: Roadmap for HelpXplain

Unread post by Martin Wynne » Thu Jul 18, 2019 1:55 am

Sue King wrote:I would like to have a menu in one of my exes that has items such as 'How do I do x ?', which when clicked runs an Xplain.
Hi Sue,

Assuming you are creating Windows exes, you could embed the Xplain directly in your exe.

It means including the Xplain files in your installer, and putting them somewhere, such as a sub-folder in your installation folder, but after that it is plain sailing using the Windows WebBrowser component. It runs a creaky old version of IE, but Alexander has got the Xplains running just fine in it. I'm thinking of going that way myself, rather than calling webhelp every time and taking the user out of the app. Publish the Xplain to IFrame Content to get the files.

All it needs is the WebBrowser component dropped on a form (Delphi code):

Code: Select all

type
  Txplain_form = class(TForm)
    web_browser: TWebBrowser;
    ...
  end;
var
  xplain_form: Txplain_form;
and then for each menu item:

Code: Select all

xplain_form.web_browser.Navigate('file:///C:/path_to_wherever/xplain_files/xplain_1.html');
You could perhaps put the menu list on the same "How To" form, and maybe some thumbnails from the Xplains.

For a neater result you can set the aspect ratio of the WebBrowser component to match your Xplain exactly.

edit: p.s. just tested this in Windows7 and it works fine there too. Full marks to Alexander for that, given how difficult it is to get HTML5 stuff to work in the WebBrowser component.

cheers,

Martin.

Sue King
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Re: Roadmap for HelpXplain

Unread post by Sue King » Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:52 am

Hi Martin,

Thanks for this gold nugget of information. It needs to be publicised, since I think many people like me avoid TWebBrowser like the plague.

I tried it in a test FMX app, and it worked beautifully.

This has opened up a new line of thought for tutorial presentation. I may also include a chapter of tutorials in the main ebook help, but this is magic in individual exes.

Sue

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Martin Wynne
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Re: Roadmap for HelpXplain

Unread post by Martin Wynne » Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:33 pm

Hi Sue,

I'm glad you found the TWebBrowser idea helpful. :)

There is of course a half-way house where TWebBrowser fetches your Xplain from the internet. This makes it easier to edit and update the Xplains without waiting for an upgrade to your app. Assuming your app users always have good internet access.

In fact if you use one of the older frameset skins, you can display your H&M webhelp in a TWebBrowser too, keeping everything in-app. Use its Navigate method to open context help. The downside there is that any external internet links will open in the TWebBrowser, and many of them won't work properly there. Nor does it have any tabbed browsing.

Not teaching you to tie your shoelaces, but if you put Parent:=main_form; in the OnCreate event of the xplain_form, your users will be able to have the xplain showing in front of the main form and click between them without losing focus on either. And drag the xplain child form around on the main form without needing to resize any windows, or having Windows interfering with the focus. This works best with BorderStyle set to bsSizeToolWin, and for a neat result in Windows10, set the Color of child forms to $00F1E3D7. It is much easier to follow a How-To demo if you can click easily to and fro between the demo and the live app.

cheers,

Martin.

Sue King
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Re: Roadmap for HelpXplain

Unread post by Sue King » Thu Aug 01, 2019 12:12 am

Hi Martin,

Thanks for another useful idea.

How do you define 'one of the older frameset skins' ?

Sue

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Martin Wynne
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Re: Roadmap for HelpXplain

Unread post by Martin Wynne » Thu Aug 01, 2019 12:43 am

Sue King wrote:How do you define 'one of the older frameset skins' ?
Hi Sue,

I meant any of the skins other than the Premium Pack V3 skins, which I don't think will work in TWebBrowser.

So any of the native H&M skins, or the Premium Pack V2 skins such as those for EWriter, or no skin at all.

In fact I still like the old-fashioned frameset sites in which the user can adjust all the frame sizes, which look like this:

Code: Select all

<frameset rows="100,*" frameborder="0" framespacing="0">
  <frame name="hmheader" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="No" src="3_frame_header.php" title="Header">
  <frameset cols="360,480,*" frameborder="0" framespacing="0" border="0">
...
Which work just fine on a desktop pc, especially on the latest widescreen monitors, although generally deprecated by all and sundry in favour of iframes. I'm getting old. :)

cheers,

Martin.

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Tim Green
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Re: Roadmap for HelpXplain

Unread post by Tim Green » Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:47 am

Hi Martin,
Which work just fine on a desktop pc, especially on the latest widescreen monitors, although generally deprecated by all and sundry in favour of iframes.
True, that. There are definite benefits to the old framesets on desktop applications sometimes. Similarly, there are also benefits to table layouts (gasp...) compared to some of the convoluted CSS acrobatics that we now have to perform to achieve the same thing. :roll:
Regards,
Tim (EC Software Documentation & User Support)

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Sue King
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Re: Roadmap for HelpXplain

Unread post by Sue King » Thu Aug 01, 2019 11:35 am

Thanks for these comments.

I will spend some time trying out different skins instead of automatically going for the 'latest and greatest'.

There is a lot to be said for simplicity.

Cheers,

Sue

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Kooswillem
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Re: Roadmap for HelpXplain

Unread post by Kooswillem » Fri Dec 06, 2019 10:24 am

Looking forward to the slide templates.

What I am really, really missing now, is a function to save the custom colours (we've got 15 brand colours), and when you create them in a colour dialog, they will have gone the next time you open the Xplain and so you cannot pick the colours but have to look them up again.

Please look at MS Powerpoints Themes and Templates, or closer to home Help & Manual because saving a template, with therein custom colours, styles, and fonts is very welcome.
And may be even extended with certain included slides (like in the MS Powerpoint Slide Master Editor) and a custom sound files (a sound library), custom image files, and custom java script.
As one set.

Especially Ms Powerpoint seems to have all the things to do with templates, themes and styles covered with their 'Slide Master' editor.

Koos

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Tim Green
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Re: Roadmap for HelpXplain

Unread post by Tim Green » Fri Dec 06, 2019 4:46 pm

Hi Koos,

Custom colors are already on the wish list, templates for after that. However, rest assured that all these concerns are definitely on our radar. :)
Regards,
Tim (EC Software Documentation & User Support)

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Rob Davis
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Re: Roadmap for HelpXplain

Unread post by Rob Davis » Mon Dec 16, 2019 3:30 pm

Hi
If you can bear it - back to the .ipp question, please! Since my original question, we have started implementing a new UI and have to update/create many hundreds of screenshots, many with callouts (mostly simple text callouts or outline rectangle/ellipses). These all exist as .ipp files. We can take new background screenshots and just replace them - but that leaves the text/callouts, etc. to be updated with color and fonts.

If only there was a 'style/theme' capability in Impict, we could use that.

On NEW files, we will use the Xplain features - and that is one reason we are moving to the eBook/.exe format. We also plan to add many animated tutorials.

But it does not help update the old .ipps, which need updating with new uniform fonts and outline colors for callouts.

I find it hard to believe that we are the only user who relied so heavily on the ability to embed multilayer graphics into the Help tool, and used Impict for this - So - they would also welcome some basic import capability of .ipp to .Xplain, or else benefit from an Impict 'theme' capability.

Any updated suggestions? (I'll try to leave the subject alone after this plea!!)

Rob

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