FINAL BETA: New HTML-to-EXE eBook compiler for download

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FINAL BETA: New HTML-to-EXE eBook compiler for download

Unread postby Alexander Halser » Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:46 pm

Since many years (since version 3 in 2001), Help & Manual creates Windows e-books and we are going to continue this feature, but with an updated e-book format.

The beta version of this program, code name e-Writer, is a stand-alone HTML-to-EXE compiler that produces Windows executables with an integrated HTML viewer from a Help & Manual Webhelp output, or from any other HTML source you specify.

This stand-alone compiler is for testing and to get user feedback. The display engine and the compiler will be integrated into Help & Manual later. Help & Manual will directly create these e-books from a H&M project file. The new e-book format will replace the current EXE e-book output in Help & Manual. We also plan to release this HTML-to-EXE compiler as a stand-alone product.

Comments are welcome!

Download link:
http://download.ec-software.com/ewriter-setup.exe

Some differences between the old EXE e-books and the new format...

The most eye-catching difference is the optical appearance of the content and the user interface. While the old version had a fixed table of contents, keyword index and search tab (very similar to compiled help files), the new version uses a fully customizable HTML user interface, based on the Webhelp output of Help & Manual.

But there is much more to it. The new format uses an embedded Internet Explorer as the display engine and has therefore all the functionality that MSIE brings: HTML5, CSS, Javascript, Active-X, Flash, you name it.

Benefits of e-Writer eBooks

  • You can package any HTML files or websites as an e-Writer eBook, complete with all the layout and dynamic features supported by HTML.
  • Consistent presentation: no nasty surprises because of different displays in different browsers.
  • Advanced security: provides levels of protection impossible in CHM files or WebHelp.
  • Supports Flash and other videos, JavaScript, CSS etc.
  • Context help support – use eBooks instead of CHM files or WebHelp for software documentation.
  • Make advanced eBooks with rich features not possible in conventional, plain-text eBooks.
  • Make a portable version of any websites in a single compact file that is accessible anywhere.
  • Kiosk mode for interactive demonstrations and presentations.
  • Password protection.
  • Prevent copying and printing.
  • Prevent access to the source code of your HTML pages.
  • EBooks with expiry date that can automatically open a specific web page when opened after expiry.
  • Support for digital signing for added validation and protection.
  • Allow eBooks to be opened only by Administrator Windows accounts.
  • CHM and WebHelp do not support access control and security features, e-Writer does.
  • EBook and viewer combined in a single compact file. WebHelp must be stored in a folder containing many files and requires a web server to work properly.
  • Unlike WebHelp, every call from your application to the eBook is opened in the same window. Every call from an application to WebHelp opens a new browser window.
  • Full support for context help with complex URLs. You can interpret all the components of the URL command line just as you would in a normal web browser, but the user never sees the command line.

Comparison of the new against the old e-book user interface:

ebook-new.png
New interface
ebook-new.png (128.66 KiB) Viewed 18467 times

ebook-old.png
Old interface
ebook-old.png (137.35 KiB) Viewed 18467 times
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Re: BETA: New HTML-to-EXE eBook compiler for download

Unread postby Simon Dismore » Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:30 pm

Alexander, in which forum would you like comments?
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Re: BETA: New HTML-to-EXE eBook compiler for download

Unread postby Alexander Halser » Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:35 pm

Just post them here. If they are getting too many to manage, we'll move it to another thread :D
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Re: BETA: New HTML-to-EXE eBook compiler for download

Unread postby Tim Frost » Wed Jan 29, 2014 2:46 pm

Looks great, but sadly I cannot get it to work yet, using our current web help output from H&M. I pointed it at a copy of our HTML output folder, but the book I create opens with 'Navigation to the webpage was canceled'. Refreshing gets me to the TOC and the main page, but clicking any other item in the TOC shows only a blank page.
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Re: BETA: New HTML-to-EXE eBook compiler for download

Unread postby Tim Green » Thu Jan 30, 2014 11:27 am

Hi Tim,

What skin or output templates are you using?
Regards,
Tim (EC Software Documentation & User Support)

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Re: BETA: New HTML-to-EXE eBook compiler for download

Unread postby Dag Velovic » Thu Jan 30, 2014 11:30 am

Hello Alexander,

FYI I am using HM Professional Edition 6.4.1 - build 2923 on Win7 machine.
I tested HTML-to-EXE on our help project, which I compiled to HTML format ( around 10MB of files ).
So far I didn't notice any problem. I will test it with some other projects also.

Brgds,
Dag
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Re: BETA: New HTML-to-EXE eBook compiler for download

Unread postby Darren Rose » Thu Jan 30, 2014 3:58 pm

Firstly fantastic idea - been waiting years for a newer ebook format!

Seems to create an ebook from my webhelp fine, but when I view it and click on any link it keeps firing up internet explorer and opening the following pages:-

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/like.p ... _guide.htm

https://apis.google.com/_/+1/fastbutton ... n=53139307

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets/twe ... _guide.htm

https://accounts.google.com/o/oauth2/po ... cesecure=1
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Re: BETA: New HTML-to-EXE eBook compiler for download

Unread postby Alexander Halser » Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:26 pm

Change the setting for "external links" in the viewer options tab. By default, the viewer opens any external links in the user's standard webbrowser. External links are identified by a http: or https: or similar prefix. By changing the option, those links are opened inside the viewer. However, external windows an popups are generally suppressed in this mode.
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Re: BETA: New HTML-to-EXE eBook compiler for download

Unread postby Clive Richey » Thu Jan 30, 2014 6:14 pm

Excellent! Worked perfectly first time. Compiled quickly and the eBook looked great. Good job.
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Re: BETA: New HTML-to-EXE eBook compiler for download

Unread postby Darren Rose » Thu Jan 30, 2014 6:41 pm

[quote="Alexander Halser"]Change the setting for "external links" in the viewer options tab. By default, the viewer opens any external links in the user's standard webbrowser. External links are identified by a http: or https: or similar prefix. By changing the option, those links are opened inside the viewer. However, external windows an popups are generally suppressed in this mode.[/quote]
Yes done that and it is now fine, but still confused as to why getting them four pop-ups as I wasn't clicking on any external links at the time

EDIT: Perhaps it is because the skin I used for my webhelp has the "SHARE" button enabled, so this contains links for facebook, google etc, so it is opening them automatically when it shouldn't

Also in future it will need amending slightly for those that have PRINT button showing in the webhelp, so that you don't get print button in two places

But I am loving the idea, looks great and the expiry date feature will be very handy for me
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Re: BETA: New HTML-to-EXE eBook compiler for download

Unread postby Alexander Halser » Thu Jan 30, 2014 6:55 pm

Perhaps it is because the skin I used for my webhelp has the "SHARE" button enabled

Makes sense. Would you mind to send me an example (the HTML source folder, zipped, with a little bit of content)? Please send it to alexander dot halser at ec-software.com.

Also in future it will need amending slightly for those that have PRINT button showing in the webhelp, so that you don't get print button in two places

The compiler doesn't know there's a print function in the HTML code, not even Help & Manual would realize that a skin file implements that. If you use a skin with a print function included, just deactivate the print option in the compiler.
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Re: BETA: New HTML-to-EXE eBook compiler for download

Unread postby Tim Frost » Thu Jan 30, 2014 8:54 pm

Tim Green wrote:Hi Tim,

What skin or output templates are you using?


I am using a premium pack skin 2.32, with only very minor changes. I can send you a link to the files on our server if you wish, but since it refers to software not yet released I cannot publish it here. Or I could zip the files and send them to you.
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Re: BETA: New HTML-to-EXE eBook compiler for download

Unread postby wolfgangtheiss » Fri Jan 31, 2014 8:26 am

I compiled some of my projects (small and large) and did not face any problem. Seems to work smoothly ...
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Re: BETA: New HTML-to-EXE eBook compiler for download

Unread postby Tim Green » Fri Jan 31, 2014 12:52 pm

Hi Tim,

Tim Frost wrote:I am using a premium pack skin 2.32, with only very minor changes. I can send you a link to the files on our server if you wish, but since it refers to software not yet released I cannot publish it here. Or I could zip the files and send them to you.

The current version is 2.33 but that shouldn't make a difference. The current Premium Pack WebHelp skins do a number of things that are redundant in eBooks, including dynamic HTML5 rewriting of the URL and checking the browser's user agent, but I haven't had issues in my own tests. Please mail a small zipped demo to support AT ec-software.com (replace the AT with @), including your modified skin, and I'll check it for you.
Regards,
Tim (EC Software Documentation & User Support)

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Re: BETA: New HTML-to-EXE eBook compiler for download

Unread postby Marcus McCrory » Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:35 pm

We currently use CHM (becoming somewhat 'creaky' as a format) and PDF (no issues), so the new ebooks are a welcome addition/replacement and easy to output. My questions are:-

1. How do we integrate this new format into Visual Objects?
2. Since ebooks automatically expire 07/31/2014 with the BETA, what is the rough timeline for the finished app?

Thank you.
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