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 V2:
Ease of Use:
Judging by feedback from customers and lead users, it was determined that we needed to overhaul the Theme Designer for NetHelp 2.0 to make it more user friendly and intuitive. And that’s exactly what we did. We created a WYSIWYG interface for the new Theme Designer that allows you to click on the elements and areas of the theme that you want to change and update the changes in real time. We also integrated with jQuery’s Theme Roller so that you can make all the changes to the color scheme in your theme without needing to leave Doc-To-Help or extract files. Try it out and let us know your thoughts. Now that we’ve started improving it, we don’t intend to stop.
We also included a Timestamp XSL sample that adds a timestamp to all your topics when you build. Another set of samples that we added in 2012 — which I forgot to mention in my “What’s New” post for that release — is three sample projects written and constructed specifically for mobile devices. Devices have less screen space than a traditional monitor and you need to keep in mind to use the word “tap” instead of “click” when you’re documenting how to navigate the interface. Check them out in the Samples folder, which is located in \\Documents\My Doc-To-Help Projects\Samples. For even more information, check out Senior Information Developer Nicky Bleiel’s post on Mobile Help Best Practices.
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 improved the way your base and custom Doc-To-Help templates update, which makes updating the software faster and easier and ensures that you always have the latest templates when you upgrade.
We also added performance and usability enhancements to Doc-To-Help’s built-in XHTML editor and improved the way existing Word documents are converted to XHTML.
There have been a number of additions and enhancements to outputs, which I feel is a great benefit for Word users, since they can produce all the fantastic outputs we offer — and continue to add to — right from their existing Word documents. Speaking of outputs…
EPUB is the big output in this release, but we made sure to add a number of enhancements and integration to NetHelp 2.0. EPUBs are interactive, portable books that can be read on a variety of devices, including Nooks. Doc-To-Help supports the latest specification, EPUB 3, as well as 2.0.1. It’s an excellent general output for devices, but it proves to be especially useful if your users need access documentation offline. Doc-To-Help’s Mobile output is generally deployed on a web server, which means that EPUB is ideal for users that are either out of service or away from a WiFi hot spot.
We added a number of enhancements for NetHelp 2.0 as well. The highlights include:
- Integration with Google Translate. By adding some code to your theme and deploying to your website, you’re able to include the full functionality of Google Translate into your outputs, instantly localizing them for customers around the world.
- Your customers will now be able to leave comments and rate topics in your NetHelp projects with our new Disqus integration.
- NetHelp can now be embedded in a web page. You can embed a single topic or your entire NetHelp project, which gives you a dynamic way to deliver user assistance to customers according to where they are on your site or in your web application.
- Server side search drastically improves search speed and load times of results in NetHelp and Mobile outputs. This is particularly useful with large projects.
- There are two new configurations for NetHelp that localize it for Chinese and Japanese, including all the interface elements and tabs.
Collaboration and Pain-Free Workflows:
With all the Team Foundation Server and SharePoint integration features (including integration with SharePoint 365) we added over the past two years, we decided to focus more on improving outputs, Word integration, and the user experience. However, if you’re looking for more of a cloud-based solution, you can easily share your projects, outputs, or documents using Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, YouSendIt, or any cloud solution that offers a client that can be downloaded to your desktop.
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 EPUB), 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 .002 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 V2 release is another step in that direction.