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Making Help Authoring a Pleasure To Do

Dynamic Styles

One of the most frequently requested features is the system of dynamic styles and we actually understand how such a tool can simplify working with fonts, paragraph settings, and with bulleted or numbered lists as well. Moreover, having a full-featured style system, it takes only minutes to reformat the entire help project without the necessity to make lots of changes in every help topic.

In fact, HelpSmith’s word processor was originally designed as a style-based editor, but the user interface for that functionality was not implemented. Then, however, we decided to reconsider the existing (internal) style model and redesigned it in order to provide more possibilities. Now after quite a long period of time spent on rewriting the code and integrating it with the HelpSmith’s core, we are in the process of testing the new dynamic style system.

The HelpSmith’s dynamic styles will let you create styles of different types: text styles, paragraph styles, and list styles. Also, you will be able to create sub-styles which can have the same attributes as their base style, but override that or another property such as the font color, paragraph alignment, etc. There will be a set of reserved styles similar to the one that you can meet in Microsoft Word, for example.

Another great benefit of HelpSmith’s dynamic styles is that it will allow you to redefine how a style should look in different output help formats. That is you can create a style and set alternative views for HTML Help, Web Help, or Printed Manual.

We tried to make the user interface as easy as all the rest things are in HelpSmith. The main tool to operate with styles is the style tree representing the style hierarchy which you can see on the screenshot. So when you are working on a help project, you can visually see how a style looks, apply it to the selected text, or edit it via the dialog-box.

Also, we always try to provide complete backward compatibility and the new version of HelpSmith introducing dynamic styles will open your existing .HSM projects with no problem. Moreover, all the font, paragraph and other settings that you had to apply manually will be represented in the style tree, so you will not have to remake anything.

As it was mentioned above, the dynamic style system is under construction so far, but we are going to release this important feature as soon as everything is completely done and tested out.