Starting with the 2011 V2 release, I introduced what I call the Four Pillars of Doc-To-Help. With every release, we try to improve upon and extend the four things that we believe set Doc-To-Help apart from other products on the market (and what we believe our customers are looking for in terms of features and functionality).
- Ease of use.
- Tight integration with Microsoft Word.
- Outputs that are more useful, flexible, and visually appealing than other options.
- Collaboration and pain-free workflows, particularly through integration with Team Foundation Server and Microsoft SharePoint.
With that in mind, here’s what we added in 2012 V1:
Ease of Use:
You can now copy Target properties or Style properties from existing Styles and Targets when you create a new Target or Style. This streamlines the creation process, allows you to share settings and properties across projects, and makes sure that all the Targets and Styles in every project are consistent.
To complete our transition to the 2010-style Ribbon interface, we changed the Options dialog box so that it has panes instead of tabs. This makes the Options dialog box more intuitive and the options you want to change more discoverable.
Tight Integration with Word:
In addition to continuing to support all Word versions (64-bit and 32-bit) from 2010 back to 2000, we have added a feature that longtime Doc-To-Help users will appreciate: You can now have Word documents open during a Build or Rebuild (including source documents).
We also added performance and usability enhancements to Doc-To-Help’s built-in XHTML editor, including the ability to set the default language in the spell checker.
As you’ll see, this is an output-heavy release.
Mobile Output is the big output in this release. It is a Target that is designed specifically for mobile devices. Since it is based on jQuery Mobile, it is operating system independent and displays the same on all devices. In order to produce Mobile output, you don’t need to set up anything differently, you just need to select it as your Target and click Build. More information is available in the Introducing Mobile Help post written by Product Manager Dan Beall. If you’re interested in learning more about how to structure your content for a Mobile audience, check out the Best Practices posts (Part 1 and Part 2) by Senior Information Developer Nicky Bleiel.
We added a number of enhancements for NetHelp 2.0 as well. The highlights include:
- Output that renders right-to-left instead of left-to-right for authors and translators that work with RTL languages such as Hebrew and Arabic.
- NetHelp 2.0 and Mobile Help can now easily be made 508 Compliant for customers that have accessibility needs. This is especially relevant for federal government customers.
- Optimized load times.
- Automatically hide the Index tab for projects that don’t contain keywords or an Index.
- Greater customization options. You can now edit the “user.js” file to run customized scripts in all of your NetHelp 2.0 Targets.
Support for Eclipse Help has also been added for this release. Eclipse Help is an XML-based help system associated with the Eclipse Platform, initially introduced by IBM. If you have a requirement that specifies Eclipse Help as one of the deliverables, you can now build it in Doc-To-Help, along with all the other outputs Doc-To-Help supports. More information can be found in the “Doc-To-Help Outputs and Deliverables” topic in the Doc-To-Help documentation, as well as Nicky’s post on the platform and the help output itself.
To improve all outputs (except Manuals), we added a Transformation Wizard that allows you to add custom code and scripts to all of your topics. Using the Advanced XML Transformations feature in Doc-To-Help, I was able to add a timestamp to all my topics in all my outputs. There are a number of useful applications and customization options with this feature, so check back in the future for more samples and examples.
Collaboration and Pain-Free Workflows:
With all the Team Foundation Server and SharePoint integration features we added over the past year and a half, we decided to focus more on improving outputs, Word integration, and the user experience. But, we did still find time to integrate with SharePoint 365, as well as improving and streamlining some functionality with TFS and SharePoint.
With these enhancements, Doc-To-Help is now an ideal tool for managing documents, content, collaboration, and publishing. Our customers run the gamut from technical writers that deliver quality user manuals and documentation to Human Resource professionals and Operations Managers tasked with getting their policies and procedures published to the company Intranet (usually SharePoint) to training and support professionals that need easily accessible documentation that is task-oriented and can be understood by a wide audience. They all need a tool that is easy to use, works well with Word, has a number of different, flexible output options for different types of audiences (including Mobile), and empowers them to collaborate on projects to make their content as crisp and accessible as possible.
At the heart of the Four Pillars is the idea that we want to make it as easy as possible for you to make it as easy as possible for your constituents to find the information they’re looking for. In the information age, people aren’t looking for 63,515,048 results in .2 seconds; they’re looking for one, good answer. Doc-To-Help allows you to focus on the quality of your content so that your customer/end user/employee/trainee has easy access to that answer and the 2012 V1 release is another step in that direction.