HelpXplain XML schema?

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

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Simon_Dismore
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HelpXplain XML schema?

Unread post by Simon_Dismore »

Is the HelpXplain project file XML schema documented anywhere?

I was thinking of testing Altova StyleVision as a starting point to pre-populate projects.

Thanks for any info
Simon
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Tim Green
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Re: HelpXplain XML schema?

Unread post by Tim Green »

Hi Simon,

The Help & Manual XML schema is fully documented in the Helpman_XML_ref.chm file, which you can find in the Help & Manual program directory. You also have the full XSD schema file in every Help+Manual project at the root level. 8)
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Tim (EC Software Documentation & User Support)

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Simon_Dismore
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Re: HelpXplain XML schema?

Unread post by Simon_Dismore »

Hi Tim

Yes, I know about Helpman_XML_Ref.chm

I was wondering whether there was something similar for HelpXplain, documenting elements like <frame> <spotlight> <calloutshape>, the <VisualElements> configuration etc.

Thanks,
Simon
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Tim Green
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Re: HelpXplain XML schema?

Unread post by Tim Green »

Hi Simon,

Sorry, I skimmed your mail too quickly along with many other things. :shock: I'll check into this.
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Tim (EC Software Documentation & User Support)

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Tim Green
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Re: HelpXplain XML schema?

Unread post by Tim Green »

Simon,

I just checked and the XML used in Xplains isn't currently documented officially. It's also not formalized with an XSD, as of yet. :?
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Tim (EC Software Documentation & User Support)

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Simon_Dismore
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Re: HelpXplain XML schema?

Unread post by Simon_Dismore »

Tim Green wrote: Mon Nov 20, 2023 12:37 pm Simon,

I just checked and the XML used in Xplains isn't currently documented officially. It's also not formalized with an XSD, as of yet. :?
Thanks for checking!
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Alexander Halser
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Re: HelpXplain XML schema?

Unread post by Alexander Halser »

Hi Simon,
The XML format of HelpXplain is not officially documented, and we don't plan on disclosing it, either. It just doesn't make sense. An .xplain file is a zip archive that not only consists of an XML file inside, but also image files and other binary resources, together with a fully rendered preview image at full size and thumbnails of every slide. So in order to create an .xplain file manually outside HelpXplain, you'd need to reproduce all that.

I suggest you focus on our next project, which we hope to offer a beta version for quite soon (definitely before Christmas).

SnipSVG is a new image editor, meant to replace the old Impict image editor in Help+Manual. It's based on the library of HelpXplain, but is designed to edit static images only.

The beauty of this tool is (hence the name): it can save annotated screenshots in SVG format, and read them again. In other words: instead of attempting to create HelpXplain XML, create an SVG file that SnipSVG can read and edit.

That's going to be much easier.
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Alexander Halser
Senior Software Architect, EC Software GmbH
Simon_Dismore
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Re: HelpXplain XML schema?

Unread post by Simon_Dismore »

Hi Alexander

Thanks for the feedback. I think for our use case - which is mainly re-purposing/translating - we can simply replace files in the zipped xplain: there's usually a 1-to-1 equivalent, so it isn't essential to understand the XML. The goal was never to replace HelpXplain, just to scaffold input for it. If I delete all the png previews I think HelpXplain just re-creates them from the source slides.

Re: SnapSVG, I'd love to see it., particularly if...
  • Resources can include separately maintained SVG documents as well as bitmap images
  • Resources can be internal or external (use cases: translation, versioning, division of authoring responsibilities, CSS)
  • Author has option to control resource filenames and their internal IDs
  • External resources can have a relative base location (as above, and very helpful for mass changes)
  • External resources can be "compiled" into the main file (by compiled I'm thinking you can merge in SVG and CSS, and base64 encode bitmaps)
  • Parts of the SVG can be addressed using #fragment IDs (use case: show/hide things)
  • ...and H+M and HelpXplain can address images using #fragment IDs (details here).
Best wishes
Simon
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