Welcome to Gridlines, the blog for HAT-Matrix.com. (Visit HAT-Matrix.com to compare features of several popular HATs.)

James “Van” Vanslette describes how Voxeo has implemented HelpServer in a detailed product review (including screenshots). This review was first published in Communicator, the journal for UK technical communicators. (Communicator is free to ISTC members.)

Read the review.

Leuven, Belgium-January 4, 2012—4.ST is proud to announce its 25th anniversary. During these 25 years, the company has been an important provider of highly respected multi-application and multi-platform on-line help documentation management systems.

Commenting on the changes in the help & documentation industry over the past two and a half decades, CIO Rigo Vangheel said, “There has and always will be a need to provide documentation to end-users. The main difference however is that these days content is more and more provided in real time over the internet to end-users, which makes it easier to keep content up-to-date since file distribution is not longer an issue. Managing and delivering help & documentation in true real time offers your team a lot more flexibility. Your software applications will be able to launch help calls, for which dynamic content is provided from a database on a web server. A collaborative web-based approach is probably the best long-term solution for managing and distributing your product documentation.”

This is exactly the reason why 4.ST launched HelpServer. HelpServer is one of the most comprehensive web-based content management systems (CMS) in today’s market. HelpServer provides a secured web-based team-authoring environment that uses a shared, object-based content database.

Authors can collaborate in real time to create, manage, translate, reuse and deliver personalized dynamic content over the Internet to end-users. HelpServer allows your team of authors to easily create online knowledge portals, from which up-to-date manuals can be printed to PDF files on the spot by end-users. Next to web-based delivery, authors can still single source (=export) content from the database to different file formats if needed.

“Since HelpServer is entirely web-based we started offering it as SaaS (=Software as a Service) approximately one year ago. Customers who do not want to deploy HelpServer on their proprietary web server can opt for HelpServer SaaS and have their HelpServer environment hosted on our servers as a cloud computing service”, said HelpServer CIO, Mr. Rigo Vangheel.

Want to try HelpServer without having to download and install?

Because we will be celebrating our 25th anniversary with a variety of special activities in 2012, we start by offering you a free SaaS trial environment. You simply request a trial version and a few minutes later your HelpServer SaaS trial environment is up and running in the cloud. None of the technical writers in your team will need to download/install any software in order to start co-authoring content in real time.

HelpServer SaaS comes with free training and support, even during the 30 day trial period. Our consultants will be happy to demo HelpServer to your team and help you achieve a jump start.

4.ST has always been focusing on enhancing the functionality of its products based on customer input and feedback and is committed to keep on working like this. 4.ST has more than 250 corporate clients in finance, insurance, air travel and shipment in over 20 countries.

For more information visit www.helpserver.eu or contact marketing@helpserver.eu.

All product and company names mentioned are trademarks of their respective owners.

Contact: Dimitri Tetsch (email)
T: +32 16 40 40 54
F: +32 16 40 50 50
4.ST – HelpServer
Technologielaan 21-b1

Struggling with your current Help Authoring Tool? Looking to “switch” to a tried-and-tested tool that has been the professional standard in the user assistance space for the last 20 years? Adobe has the answer…and the perfect reasons too!

Adobe celebrates the 20th anniversary of RoboHelp with a limited period 40%-off “switcher” promotion. Switch from MadCap Flare, Author-it, or Doc-To-Help Enterprise, or Doc-To-Help for Word, and save 40% off Adobe RoboHelp 9!

Time frame: October 17th, 2011 through February 16th, 2012

Scope: US only

To learn more, please sign up for the upcoming Adobe RoboHelp “Switcher” webinar at 10 am PST on 30 November (Wednesday).

Leuven, Belgium - January 17, 2011 – 4.ST HelpServer, a web-based CMS for help and documentation, announced the release of their new SAAS (software as a Service) deployment option.

A shift from traditional software models to web-based applications has steadily gained momentum over the past few years, because more and more companies start to realize that a collaborative web-based approach is probably the best long-term solution for managing and distributing documentation.

Web-based collaborative authoring

HelpServer CMS is such a web-based and server-based collaborative authoring tool that allows authors to contribute to content in real time, as if they were sitting in the same office.

All content is stored in a central database that resides on a web-server. This means content objects can easily be accessed and reused by authors, which improves productivity, prevents redundancy and reduces translation costs.

Furthermore since all content is stored in a central database, referential integrity is enforced which prevents broken links at all times.

The user friendly workbench (back-end), which comes with an integrated editor, allows authors to get up and running quickly, no programming or markup-language knowledge is needed.

HelpServer allows authors to import a wide range of file types: images, video, Microsoft Office files, PDF files, etc … almost any file type is supported.  For most of these file types metadata for search & retrieval are automatically extracted.

Authors can easily convert legacy documentation written outside HelpServer into the HelpServer database.

Web-based content delivery

Authors can easily disclose ready-to-go content objects from the database to end-customers by using HelpServer’s build-in publish functionality. This publish process does not generate files. Instead, it simply turns the content into an active (published) version in the database. This active version is what end-users can access it in real time over the Internet.

Each request is responded to immediately from the database. From your software applications you can easily link to published content objects to provide real time context sensitive help to your end-users.

Next to providing help, HelpServer enables you to put a front-end self-service web-portal in place, where end-users can browse content, provide feedback on content, and print content objects (even entire books) to PDF files on the spot.  HelpServer allows you to create, easily maintain and publish the changes, your documentation will be as accurate and up-to-date as possible.

Single Sourcing to files

Next to delivering content to end-users in real time via the Internet, HelpServer enables authors to export centralized content objects from the database to different file formats: PDF, HTML, and HTML Help. These files can be used for embedding help & documentation in your software applications.

HelpServer now also available as SaaS

“Since HelpServer is entirely web-based we opted to start offering it as a subscription based service. This enables us to extend our customers deployment options.  Next to a proprietary server installation, we now offer HelpServer as Software as a Service (SaaS)” said HelpServer CIO, Mr. Rigo Vangheel.

The advantages for our SAAS customers are:

  • No large upfront investment is needed:  since customers subscribe to the service and in fact rent the software.
  • Faster Implementation:  Customers can deploy HelpServer SaaS within hours.
  • No hardware or software to buy, install, or maintain: HelpServer SaaS does not require customers to download and install any HelpServer software. Instead we will grant you and your colleagues access to your dedicated web-based team authoring environment and database which resides on a 4.ST web-server.
  • A Maintenance and enhancement plan is automatically included in a HelpServer SaaS contract. HelpServer software upgrades are automated, which eliminates the need to have authors individually download and install upgrades.
  • Secure: HelpServer employs industry-standard technology for Internet security. HelpServer makes use of server authentication and data encryption. This technology helps ensure your data and documents are protected and only available to authorized authors. In addition, you can use security-rules to either decrease or increase the accessibility of your content based on user profiles.
  • Flexible: Effective Content Management is driven by the need to balance flexibility and simplicity. If a content management system is too simple, it can only be used for a single purpose – but if it is too flexible, it may be too difficult for new users to learn. HelpServer CMS strives to offer the best of both worlds to its customers by providing basic features and offering customers the opportunity to add optional features and additional concurrent authors at any given time in the future.
  • Scalable: Scalability is a critical issue since the amount of information in an enterprise increases every year. HelpServer’s underlying architecture is designed to accommodate virtually unlimited growth.  HelpServer takes full advantage of techniques such as load balancing to provide high-performance responds. And for huge-volume transactions, HelpServer’s multi platform technology enables the mainframe as an environment.

HelpServer SaaS trial environment

For more information about HelpServer visit http://www.helpserver.eu.

If you are interested in HelpServer SaaS please contact marketing@helpserver.eu and ask for a HelpServer SaaS trial environment.

About 4.ST – HelpServer

As an important provider of end-user support management systems, 4.ST founded in 1987 strives to leverage leading-edge technology to improve the quality of online user assistance and documentation.

HelpServer is their web-based enterprise content management system for help and documentation. This web-based team authoring tool enables companies to deliver audience based help and documentation via the web to their customers. HelpServer is equipped with an extremely easy to use editor and lets dispersed authoring teams easily contribute content over the web to a central server and database from where it can be browsed, exported and printed to PDF by end-users.

Like much software that powers the web, HelpServer doesn’t run in the way that most traditional documentation and help authoring software works. HelpServer sits on a web server (your own proprietary server or a 4.ST web server in case of SaaS) ready for action and it flies into action when that web server receives a page request from a visitor (end-customer).

HelpServer then responds to the request by interacting with the information that has been stored in the database, puts the requested content together and renders the dynamically tailored output to the end-customer’s browser or to a PDF file.

This server- and web-based approach of HelpServer has some important advantages:

  • all content is stored and retrieved from one central database;
  • all content can be kept more easily up to date by dispersed authoring teams throughout your company;
  • the distribution of help & documentation is only a matter of clicking a publish button;
  • content can easily be tailored to certain end-user profiles by making use of variables;
  • HelpServer generates PDFs dynamically at the server side, those PDFs are therefore always tailored to the profile that requested the PDF file and are always up-to-date.

For more information visit http://www.helpserver.eu or contact marketing@helpserver.eu .

All product and company names mentioned are trademarks of their respective owners.

Due to overwhelming demand, the August 16th-19th MadCamp has reached full capacity.  MadCap Software is pleased to announce a second MadCamp training seminar, to be held August 23rd–26th in La Jolla, California.

The 4-day course will cover a range of technical writing topics, including:

  • Basic/Intermediate Flare training
  • Half-day CSS advanced training
  • Half-day advanced single-sourcing
  • Lunch with the MadCap development team
  • Exclusive MadCamp attendee giveaways

Preview of never-before-seen features and functionality currently in development:

  • See the latest new features and functionality of MadCap Software’s products

Training will be held at the MadCap Software office, located in beautiful downtown La Jolla, California:

  • A five-minute walk to the La Jolla Cove, restaurants and shopping
  • Located just 15 minutes north of downtown San Diego

Get more information on pricing and scheduling or register.

Author-it Software Corporation has announced that Author-it 5.4 has been released. There have been significant quality improvements and performance gains of up to 50% in this release.

The new release includes a number of exciting and improved features.

  • The Author-it Live UI now available in French and German
  • Support for Microsoft Office 2010 (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Support for Google Analytics in Web Help
  • Ability to configure a default release state for your library
  • Re-import functionality now includes support for Word documents
  • New system heading variable can be used to display a book title or topic heading in HTML and Web Help
  • Ability to filter the publishing console’s Book List by ‘Show All Books’ or ‘Show Recent Books’ options
  • Ability to use a placeholder to control the word order for chapter numbering in Print outputs (especially for languages other than English)
  • Updated word order for Japanese cross-references in Print outputs
  • Information for working with SDL Trados Studio 2009 and Author-it XML is available in the Knowledge Center

Full release notes are available in the Author-it Knowledge Center.

(Disclaimer: While Char James-Tanny of JTF Associates is an Author-it Certified Consultant, she did not receive anything in return for posting this information.)

EC Software has announced its latest update to Help & Manual, one of the most popular Help authoring tools (HATs) among software developers. The latest version can generate Visual Studio source code documentation by importing projects from Microsoft Sandcastle.

Help & Manual 5.4 can run Microsoft Sandcastle to read your Visual Studio source code and comments, builds the documentation structure for your functions and classes, integrating the comments found in the source. Then, instead of compiling the “finished” CHM or HTML files, it transforms the Sandcastle XML data into a Help & Manual XML project, which you can then edit in Help & Manual, alone or in a team, and publish in any of the many supported output formats.

Visit the Help & Manual website for more information. Read the official press release.

New Release 2010 – Author-it Aspect – Content from your Perspective

The Right Information, to the Right People, at the Right Time.


Author-it Software Corporation (ASC), a world leader in software for enterprise authoring, content management, publishing, and localization, today announces the launch of Author-it Aspect – a web based application that dynamically delivers content to users based on their profiles. Author-it Aspect, which forms part of the Author-it Dynamic Assistance Platform will be officially launched to the public at the WritersUA Conference in Seattle, United States on March 21-24, 2010.

The volume of written content within the world’s enterprises continues to explode. As the volume of content increases, so to do issues associated with searching for and finding relevant information. Today it is not just a matter of getting information to people. It is about getting the right information, to the right people, at the right time.

To solve this problem, ASC developed Author-it Aspect, a web-based application that works in conjunction with Author-it. Content is written in the Author-it Enterprise Authoring Platform including any variations. Examples of variations could be that a process may differ based on the operating system used or a policy may differ by state or country.

Read full story >>

About Author-it Software Corporation

Author-it Software Corporation (ASC) is a world leader in enterprise software for authoring, content management, publishing, and localization. Its flagship product, Author-it, is an end-to-end content management solution capable of publishing content to multiple deliverables. Since its release in 1997, ASC has produced five major versions of Author-it, resulting in a robust product built on proven technologies. Author-it is used in over 50 countries, by over 3500 clients and chosen by Fortune 100 organizations for worldwide deployments, making it one of the world’s most popular content management tools. ASC has offices in San Jose and Newport Beach, California, Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand. More information is available at www.author-it.com.

For further comments, industry opinions or interview opportunities, please contact:

Steve Davis
Author-it Software Corporation
+1 (408) 701 1408

Paul Pehrson http://twitter.com/docguy) reviewed MadCap Flare 6 this week on his blog Technically Speaking.

Author-it Software Corporation has released updates for Author-it, Author-it Live, and Author-it Service Manager. Included are key updates to authoring, publishing, and importing (RoboHelp).

In addition, Author-it has released a Best Practice Guide for embedded topics.

Read the press release.