Creating a new Help Builder project

The first step in creating a help file is to create a new Help Builder Project. Start by clicking on the New Project button in the toolbarmenu bar or selecting File -> New...-> New Project from the menu.

Projects are directory based using a folder structure to hold all assets related to the project. There's an .hbp project file, a set of templates and scripts that determine how topics render, as well as the generated HTML pages and captured or linked images that are embedded into topics. The .hbp file holds all the help file content that you create, which is then rendered into HTML documents when you preview a topic or when you generate your final documentation output.

To create a new project give the new project a descriptive name which is used in the final Help File's title bar. Also provide a company name that is used by default in the copyright notice at the bottom of each topic.

You also need to specify the file location for the project file. By default Help Builder Projects are created in <documents folder>\Html Help Builder Projects\<your project folder>.

Specify the directory where you would like to create the project. Preferably this is a directory that doesn't exist yet, or else you will get a warning that files might get overwritten by what Help Builder writes out for new projects.

Click on the Next or Finish button to create the project. A new project will now pop up containing only an Index topic:

Since the project is new and empty you only have an Index topic at this point. This topic has some basic information on what you can do next.

The new project starts up in HTML view, which lets you preview the HTML that is generated for the topic. To switch into Edit view, click on the Pencil icon in the tool bar or use Ctrl-Tab to toggle between the two modes.

Here's what the Edit view for a topic looks like with the default content from the index topic shown:

This view shows you the editable view for all the subsections of each help topic. The main pieces are the topic title and the body which is what you see on this page. You can also add other things like Notes or code examples and additional links that can be displayed at the bottom of the page. Certain types of topics that are developer centric might also show Class information such as member names, parameters and return values and so on.

Editing Content

The main topic text is presented as Markdown text by default and presented in a rich text editor window that shows syntax colored markdown text for editing. You can modify any text in the body using the Markdown syntax which is mostly plain text with a few special markup directives.

At this point you can change any of the fields to change the content of this topic. Change the body or title, or any other field and that change will be immediately applied to the topic.

To insert any common markup you can use the HTML Editing Toolbar which insert Markdown formatted text into your topic. The toolbar options are great way to learn how to use common Markdown features as they show you what Markdown is required for operations like bolding, italicizing, inserting topic cross links, external links and images, lists and so on.

Whenever you've made some changes, save your topic by pressing Ctrl-s or simply navigate off the topic. Pressing Ctrl-s frequently is useful to force a live preview of your topic which is shown in the next section.

Using the External View for Live Topic Preview

You can also activate the external preview window which is a seperate window that by default 'attaches' to the main Help Builder window and follows it around. This window shows current topic content for a saved topic or when you navigate to a new topic.

Here's what the attached preview window looks like:

The attached window stays hooked to the main window and follows it around and resizes and hides with the main window.


Next: Creating your first new topic

See also

Step By Step Guide | Markdown Editing Basics

© West Wind Techologies, 2018 • Updated: 04/09/18
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