West Wind HTML Help Builder is a tool to build both end user or developer documentation for your applications or components. It's also a great tool for creating searchable knowledge bases or other storage of text based data you need to retrieve repeatedly.
Help Builder is designed to make it easy to create and organize content, with its simple and efficient document editor. Using familiar and popular Markdown syntax makes it very quick and easy to create text based content with minor markup. Topic creation and content linking is also provided using intuitive operations like drag and drop for moving of topics and interactive topic pickers that let you find and embed links to other topics in the help project. Capture screen shots (using either our minimal built-in capture tool or using the popular SnagIt software) and embed images with ease. But most importantly the editor interface is very simple and lets you focus on getting your content written with minimal distractions and interference. Use Markdown syntax when needed or use the optional toolbars to help with more complex tasks.
The point is this: We create a ton of documentation for our own tools and applications and we've tried very hard to make it easy without giving up functionality. Help Creation should be easy and part of the development process without getting in the way!
Help Builder provides a very visual IDE for managing your help projects. The environment makes it easy to create small projects or manage complex projects with thousands of topics. Help Builder's environment is very similar to the HTML Help or documentation hierarchies that you create with a content tree you add topics to and a topic editor you use to enter topic content into. Don't like tree based documents? No problem keep the topic level flat. Live previews let you see what your help file looks like at any time while building your help file and a preview is never more than a single click away. The intuitive to the point of making Help creation easy and (almost) fun.
The new editor supports markdown and highlighting of Markdown text in the editor. Markdown is a simple and popular markup format for HTML text that makes it easy to enter text and mix a few markup tags into the content. For content creators Markdown allows you to keep your hands on the keyboard to create content more efficiently. In addition to manually entering Markdown text you can also use the toolbars to assist in embedding markup - which is a great learning tool if you're new and also a helpful tool for more complex tasks like embedding screenshots or images.
As you type Spell Checking
Help Builder provides a spell checker for as you type spell checking as you are typing your content. You can double-click misspelled words to get suggestions for replacement. The spell checker supports multiple language dictionaries and ships with English, German, French and Spanish dictionaries. You can optionally install additional dictionaries.
Focus on Content with HTML Template Driven Layout Help Builder for the most part separates content from the styling via standard HTML practices. You can focus on creating your main content while the overall styling of the help project is managed by CSS and templates that drive the HTML output creation. Each topic has its own customizable template that you can use to customize many aspects of the topics you create. The main templates use BootStrap and FontAwesome to provide a common baseline for HTML layout and styling with custom theming provided ontop of the base layout. Customization involves editing using basic HTML Templates and CSS.
Syntax Coloring for Code Snippets
If you are a developer and you need to create developer documentation Help Builder makes it easy to embed code snippets into your content and display that content with highlighted syntax coloring. Many languages are supported to create kick-ass developer documentation with lots of samples for your users.
Many output options
Help Builder outputs to HTML Help File (CHM), a full HTML view including a frames based interface for browsing the help file online, and output to MS Word 2007 or later.
Extensive Class and Database Imports
If you're a developer creating components for your own and commercial use, Help Builder can help make your life a lot easier by easily allowing you to pull in your classes. Help Builder supports importing .NET types and assemblies, COM objects and type libraries, Web Services and Visual FoxPro classes. In addition you can also document SQL Server and Visual FoxPro Databases simply by pointing at the databases or tables.
Developer Environment Integration
Help Builder integrates with Visual Studio .NET and Visual FoxPro so Help Builder is only a click away. You can easily pull Help Ids into controls, pop up Help Builder Context sensitively on controls and code. In Visual Studio Help Builder can work with C# code and XML Comments to import content.
Help Builder is fully COM enabled so you can create projects, add and manage topics through a programmatic interface. You can even drive Help Builder's User Interface through the COM interface. Source code to the Visual Studio .NET Add-In is provided so you can get a sophisticated example of what you can do with Help Builder's COM model.
Tools, Tools, Tools
We built this tool because we need to build help files ourselves. In fact, one of our products has over 2000 topics of documentation. To facilitate creating and managing this process we've needed a number of tools to make creating help easy. We've included, topic sorters, bad link search utility, a screen capture utility, a custom icon manager, a flexible template manager, flexible linking tools with auto-complete, XML based exports and drag and drop, template schemes to allow you to have several different looks for the same content and the list goes on.
And there's so much more that we don't have room to describe. The best thing to do is download Help Builder today and see for yourself.
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