The beta test of HM Toolbox has now been ended. The utility has now been renamed Premium Pack Toolbox and is included in the Help & Manual Premium Pack from version 3, with new options and capabilities for interacting with Premium Pack skins (configuration, language files etc.) I'm afraid I don't have the resources to maintain two parallel versions, so this version is now closed.
Help & Manual Toolbox is a utility I've produced for power users who need to do a few key things with their projects that are not possible from within Help & Manual itself. I wrote the original version as a tool for myself for working on skins and templates, because I wanted to be able to edit the HTML templates stored in projects with an external, full-featured editor without having to copy them out and then back again. Since then I've added a lot of other features that will make it more generally useful.
Current Version: 1.26 Beta
Expiry date update and support for Premium Pack 3 configuration variables. See here for details.
Click here to download Help & Manual Toolbox Beta installer
IMPORTANT: Always create backups of your projects before working on them with this tool. Even without potential bugs, it's easy to do a lot of damage when working directly on your source code if you're not careful!
What you can do with Help & Manual Toolbox
- Edit the HTML templates in your skins and projects in an external editor of your choice:
When you do this, HM Toolbox monitors your edits and can save them back to the project directly, either when you select Save in Toolbox, or automatically every time you save in your external editor. This radically speeds up working on skin projects.
- Export author comments:
Find all the author comments in your project and export them to a text file for archival or printing. Sort in TOC order, by topic ID or in the natural file order. Export as plain text, RTF or CSV with headers for Excel.
- Edit your baggage files in the same way as your templates:
Same process as for the HTML templates. Also supports graphics files edited with an external graphics editor.
- Test publish with the current skin:
Publishes a project with the current skin so that you can test your work without leaving the utility
- Add/Remove topic ID prefixes globally:
If you decide you want to add a projects to a modular project structure you will often want to add prefixes to topic IDs globally to prevent ID collisions with other projects. This tool does this for you and it can also remove existing ID prefixes. When adding prefixes it can also skip topics with existing prefixes so that you don't get double prefixes. It automatically updates all internal links, context ID numbers, TOC references. etc.
- Add/Delete/Rename build options:
When you rename build options you can automatically update all references to the build option in your project (TOC, Topic Files, Baggage Files) and your topics (conditional text tags) at the same time.
- Complex search and replace in topic XML source code:
This gives you five different ways to to do this, including full optional support for regular expressions. It automatically handles the carriage returns and whitespace between XML tags in all modes, so you don't to worry about those at all, and it also automatically compensates for different ways of handling quotes in XML source code. It has a preview function so that you can check the results before changing a project and checks for XML errors before writing anything back to your topics.
- Save and load search profiles:
Profiles for complex searches can be stored and loaded from .hmsearch XML profile files allowing you to reuse and share complex searches for any number of tasks.
- Add non-skin settings to skins:
Skins created in Help & Manual only allow you to add a limited set of project settings that can be controlled by skins. You can get around this by writing XML skins by hand, but that's complex, time-consuming and difficult. HM Toolbox allows you to add almost all normal project settings to skins, enabling your skin to control things that weren't previously possible. For example you can insert a set of alternative Project Search Path entries so that projects published with your skin get their graphics from a different folder. All the settings have popup help explaining what the setting does, how to alter it and how to use it in projects and skins.
- Configure your Premium Pack skins with popup help:
The tool identifies Premium Pack skins automatically and allows you to edit all the configuration variables they contain in organized groups, with popup help for every configuration variable explaining its settings and how to use it.
- Check your project for common errors:
Loading a project automatically checks and warns about invalid project search path entries and duplicate files in folders stored in your project search paths. In addition to this you can also run a check for embedded images that will list all the topics that contain embedded images you need to convert to external files (just select Initalize Topics in the File menu). A number of other checks for XML errors, file errors and other inconsistencies are also run and reported when you load a project.
It's a fully signed installer with signed executables so you can install it directly. It will ask to install in its own new directory in the EC Software program directory and that's the best place for it.
You must have Help & Manual 6 or 7 installed (don't try to use it with earlier versions) and you also need Microsoft .NET Framework 4 or higher.
Before using it you need to select Edit > Preferences and choose a code editor for editing HTML and source code files. This should allow access to the files while you are editing because HM Toolbox needs to be able to save your changes back to your project as soon as you save in your editor (it monitors the editing files for changes and updates them automatically if you want). If you aren't using one already I recommend notepad++, which is free and outstanding. I use it for all my template editing work and there is a wealth of great plugins you can use. You can get it here:
You also need to set a graphics editor for editing files in the baggage directly, but Impict is set for that by default so that you can also edit .ipp files if necessary.
Please note that at the moment this tool won't work on .hmxr repositories, just on .hmxz, .hmxp and .hmskin projects. It also won't read TOC files that have been manually split into more than one XML file (it will report the TOC as invalid) and it won't read child projects of master projects. It will also only edit the "Default" topic page template. It will not currently load additional topic page templates, even if they have been defined in your project.