We are glad to announce the release of HelpNDoc 8.2, a major update of the popular help authoring tool which can be downloaded completely free for personal use and evaluation purposes. This major update includes many new features and enhancements such as pre-build actions, which are run before the documentation generation process; a new build action to run external programs; a redesigned auto-completion dialog to quickly create links to topics and anchors or insert library items; improved HTML generation with better SEO and much more… Read on to learn more and download your free version of HelpNDoc now.

⚡ Pre-Build Actions: Run various actions before the documentation generation process

HelpNDoc 8.1 introduced post-build actions, which could be run after the documentation has been successfully generated. This major update introduces pre-build actions, which are run before the generation process.

Pre- and Post-build actions

Pre-build actions are similar to post-build actions but run before the documentation generation process. They can be used to perform various tasks such as running a custom script, showing a message, or launching an external program. Pre-build actions can be configured in the documentation generation dialog: each build can include an unlimited number of pre-build and post-build actions.
Technical writers can leverage pre-build actions to perform repetitive yet important tasks before the documentation is generated, such as:

  • Run a script to check that external resources are available and up-to-date;
  • Execute an external program to create, format, rename… external documents which will be used during the documentation generation process;
  • Display a message to warn about the confidentiality of this build;
  • And much more… the possibilities are endless.

⚙️ New “Run program” Build Action: Run an external program and check its return code

HelpNDoc build actions already include the ability to execute a custom script, and display a specific message. HelpNDoc 8.2 introduces a new action which can run external programs.

Build actions can run external programs

The new “Run program” build action can be used to launch an external program and check its return code, either before or after the documentation generation process. This is useful for running tests, transforming documentation input/output, or any other task that should be performed alongside the documentation generation process, yet can’t be handled from within HelpNDoc.
HelpNDoc can also check the external program’s return code, and fail the documentation generation process if it is not valid.

Technical writers love HelpNDoc’s keyboard auto-completion feature as it makes it extremely fast and easy to insert hyperlinks or library items. This dialog has been greatly improved in this update.

HelpNDoc's auto-completion dialog

The auto-completion dialog has been completely redesigned in HelpNDoc 8.2. It is now possible to switch completion modes while the dialog is open, and quickly create links to topics and anchors, or insert library items… The auto-completion dialog is available in the topic editor and invoked using the CTRL+SPACE keyboard shortcut. By hitting CTRL+SPACE again while the dialog is open, it is now possible to switch between its different modes:

  • Insert a link to another topic: This displays a list of all topics. Start typing a name and select one of them to create a link to that topic;
  • Insert a link to an anchor: This displays a list of all anchors in the current topic. Start typing a name and select one of them to create a link to that anchor (new in HelpNDoc 8.2);
  • Insert a link to an Internet address: Enter a URL to quickly create a link to that location;
  • Insert a library item: Start typing the name of a library item, select it and it will be inserted in the topic editor.

😎 Improved HTML documentation generation with better SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is important because it helps your content be found by people who are actually looking for it as it helps your content rank higher in search engine results pages, which means that more people will see it.

HelpNDoc's improved SEO for HTML documentation

The built-in HTML documentation generation template has been improved in HelpNDoc 8.2. It includes better support for search engines with improved SEO, and is more user friendly as it automatically focuses the search field when the search tab is selected.

📄 Enhanced Microsoft Word DocX importer

Amongst all available document importers, HelpNDoc’s DocX importer is one of the most popular. It has been greatly improved in this major update.

Import and split Word DocX documents

HelpNDoc can split a Word DocX document into multiple topics to recreate the document hierarchy as the documentation’s table of contents. This importer has been enhanced in HelpNDoc 8.2 as it now fully imports documents when there is nothing to split, and it correctly imports the content which appears before the first split item. Documents with empty titles are also now imported without errors.

😍 Overall improvements and additions to the user interface, and new API methods

Technical writers and eBook authors spend most of their time using a help authoring tool such as HelpNDoc to produce high quality content. That’s why HelpNDoc’s user interface has been polished in many areas.

Select topic in tree list

It is now easier and more reliable to select the project’s default topic: a full topic hierarchy is displayed with the ability to quickly filter topics, and select the desired one.
We have also added a popup menu to re-open the latest generated documentation for each of HelpNDoc’s supported formats: this makes it possible to check a previous output without re-generating everything.
HelpNDoc’s script editor now includes a “Save As” button. And we optimized the speed of both the project options dialog and template editor while fixing some bugs here and there.
Last but not least, we added new APIs and fixed some of them for even more control over the documentation generation process.

Want to create great documentations?

HelpNDoc is free, fully functional, and easy to use.
Produce your first multi-format documentation in the next minute or so.

As always, HelpNDoc is completely free for personal use and evaluation purposes so download your free version now to get started and experiment with this major update, and feel free to contact us to share any thought you might have about HelpNDoc.

Change log

Version 8.2.0.286 – Release date: Oct 25, 2022

  • It is now possible to define pre-build actions, which are similar to post-build actions but run before the generation process
  • New build action: Run an external program and check its return code
  • Completely redesigned the auto-completion dialog, with the ability to switch completion modes, clearer user interface with icons, additional keyboard shortcuts
  • Entering a sharp character (#) in the topic editor, followed by the CTRL-SPACE keyboard shortcut, will list all anchors in the current topic for fast hyperlink creation
  • Redesigned the default topic selection in the project option panel: now using a full tree for faster and more accurate selection of the default topic
  • New API method HndTopicsEx.GetTopicCaptionHierarchy to get the hierarchy of caption for a specific topic
  • Default HTML template improvement: search field is focused and selected when the search tab is clicked
  • Added menu items to access the last generated for each documentation format: paths are stored within the HND project file for quick usage without re-generation next time the project is opened
  • Script editor now includes a "Save as" button to save the currently edited script as a new file
  • Split Word DocX document is now correctly and fully imported when there is nothing to split
  • Split Word DocX document now correctly imports the first content, appearing before the first split item
  • When a Word document containing empty titles was split, its imported content could be placed in the wrong topics or discarded altogether
  • Improved default HTML template's Search Engine Optimization (SEO): URL topics now display a link to their URL when they appear in the breadcrumb
  • The template editor allowed templates to be renamed using default template names, causing confusion and problems with template selection
  • Selecting a default topic with a duplicate caption could use the wrong topic as the default one
  • Some project options fields' modifications were discarded when the project was saved if the control didn't lose focus first
  • Optimized project options window which is now much faster to display, particularly on large projects
  • The HndTopics.CreateMultipleTopics API created topics at the same level as the parent topic instead of as its children
  • Slightly improved program startup time

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