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Documentation tool: Helpinator

PostPosted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:20 am
by pfisterhamj
Hello NeoBookers,

I've found an interesting application for creating helpfiles and more. Very interesting is the huge amount of output options. But there are many other interesting options. This tool is not freeware but the price is very affordable.

Here a little review of the application:

Program: Helpinator
Version: 3.10

Many output formats
Helpinator has the following formats:

  • CHM (HTML Help)
  • PDF
  • RTF
  • WebHelp
  • QTHelp
  • JavaHelp
  • EPUB (Open Ebook Standard)
  • MobiPocket (Amazon Kindle format)
  • OracleHelp
  • Adobe Air Help

You can generate all formats in a batch. You only have to maintain one source for your documentation.

Helpinator supports to create multi language documentations. Within the editor you can switch between the languages and make language specific settings. To generate the output you only have to say what language should be used.

Text fragments
In Helpinator you have the option to save text fragments that you need to insert in your documentation e.g. a specific program name or a price. This snippet can be created within Helpinator and saved RTF-style formatted. For example a program title can be saved as snippet and the font Arial with 16pt and Style bold is applied. After creation of the snippet let's say the snippet has the title MyTestSnippet you only have to insert {%MyTestSnippet%} on that place where you wish it should be.

Source code snippets with Syntax Highlighting
Helpinator allows you to manage source code snippets for your help project. Similar to the management of the text snippets you can insert your code fragments. The syntax highlighting is defined for the main programming languages.

You can use the code snippet with {%CODE <name>%}.

I use it very often for documentation of my SQL Queries.

With Helpinator you can create screenshots from your application. The images are saved within the help project. The images can be edited with the internal image editor that is included in Helpinator. You can draw text, arrows, shapes, ... onto the image and save it. So there is no need for an external program.

Screenshots can be recaptured. This means you replace a existing picture with a new one. This enables you to quickly replace all occurrences of a specific picture in your documentation.

Step-by-step Guides
Helpinator has the feature that help you to create step by step guides. For example: You can easily show how to install or configure your applications with it.

The content editor
Around all the features Helpinator has a nice rtf-based editor for the content of the help project. You don't need a additional word processor or html editor for creating the documentation.

Automatic image resizing
My favorite feature of Helpinator is the resizing of the screenshots in on pdf output when they do not fit onto the page. For documentations with many screenshots is this really a help because you don't have to crop them on your own - Helpinator does it for you.

File format
Helpinator supports two kinds of formats.

  • Single-file project. All pictures and files the help projects needs are saved in a .hpz file. This file is good for small to medium projects. The content of the format is compressed. If you have a lot of big pictures the compression may take some time
  • Folder-based project. All files for the help projects are saved on the filesystem under the project folder. This is good for large projects or when you work with subversion or cvs because in that system only the changed files are commited in a repository.

My favourite for NeoBook projects is the single-file based project. But I also use subversion in the background.

Helpinator is a great tool for creating documentations. The price I think is affordable if you want to create professional documentations. For me the single source publishing is one of the biggest advantages. Before I use Helpinator I was a DocBook user. But DocBook editors and the needed transforming tools for that number of formats are very expensive and you need a lot of knowledge to work with them.

To activate Helpinator no online activation is needed. You always have the chance to unlock Helpinator with your key. The graphical frontend is clear and well organized. You don't have a long time for learning how to work with Helpinator.

The support is really great. They really respond and assist you when you have problems. May they add the syntax highlighting for NeoBook Scripts.:)

Re: Documentation tool: Helpinator

PostPosted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:43 am
by dec

Thanks J├╝rgen. If anyone need to work with CHM files from your NeoBook publications, take a look at the actions which incorporate my npUtil plugin to do this. This actions allow you to open the Table of Contents, Help Index, Search engine and specific themes with their ID's or URL's. The npUtil plugin include a sample that show how to work with CHM files that you can take a look. ;)

Re: Documentation tool: Helpinator

PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 10:45 am
by Wrangler
This tool is not freeware but the price is very affordable.

$250 is affordable? $125 every year for updates? Does it include a laptop with Windows installed?

This post looks like spam to me.

Re: Documentation tool: Helpinator

PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:41 pm
by CN_Iceman
Extracted from the Helpinator Order page...

Code: Select all
Too Expensive?
Review Helpinator on your blog or favorite forum and get Lifetime One User license (499USD in value) for free! Drop a line to to get your reg key.

I think it is a good program, but very expensive for me.


Re: Documentation tool: Helpinator

PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 11:55 pm
by pfisterhamj
Professional tools are not as cheap as you expect. My UML designer that I use at work are priced around 2000$ per license. I think it's the point of view what's affordable. When I develop my software I want use software that assists me. May some cheaper tools exists but that is the tool I prefer. I thought writing documentation is a point every developer is faced with.

I buyed a license long before I posted the review. Sure a lifelong license is interesting for me because I use the tool already. I don't find it wrong to share my experiences with others and have a little benefit from it. Everyone has the chance.

The npUtil plugin from dec works well with the generated CHM files. Very good for deploying documentation CD's on offline distribution.
Also the PDF plugin from NeoBook is very good for the generated PDF files.

Best regards

Re: Documentation tool: Helpinator

PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 1:37 am
by CN_Iceman
As I said, I think it is a good program. Your review it is very good and easy to read.


Re: Documentation tool: Helpinator

PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 5:51 am
by pfisterhamj
I have already a license. But this might interesing for all how can't/want afford at the normal price.

But they got a special offer: The price will be reduced about 60%

Best regards

Re: Documentation tool: Helpinator

PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:18 am
by CN_Iceman
Good to know.
Thank's for the info.

Re: Documentation tool: Helpinator

PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 1:38 pm
by chromebandit

Re: Documentation tool: Helpinator

PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 2:00 am
by Tony Kroos
chromebandit wrote:Precision Helper is also great and its free!! :!:

nice one! thanks for the link

Re: Documentation tool: Helpinator

PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 3:53 am
by CN_Iceman
chromebandit wrote:Precision Helper is also great and its free!! :!:


Re: Documentation tool: Helpinator

PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 6:14 pm
by krackerjaxz
I see this post is a few years old, however, still a topic that applicable today. I'm all for saving money when I can. I'm personally a big fan of FOSS. For years I've ran my website off of a combination of a FOSS CMS (e.g. Joomla and WordPress). I actually prefer OpenOffice over Microsoft Word. Only exception is Microsoft PowerPoint. The OO equivalent (i.e. Impress) just can't come close to what PowerPoint offers.

With all of that being said, I've used a free version of a CHM maker called HelpNDoc. It allows exporting to CHM, PDF, DOC and other formats. The only downside to the free version is that they put an a hyperlink advertisement saying "Made with HelpNDoc" at the bottom of every single page of your help file. For Word Docs, one can easily remove that by editing the DOC file. PDF is a bit of a pain in the butt if you don't have something like Adobe Acrobat.

I normally don't mind a quick mention of what the product was made with but for me I find it overkill to plaster this on every single page. Fortunately, as with DOCs, one can edit the CHM as well. All one has to do is decompile the CHM using Microsoft's HTML Help Workshhop, then edit each HTML file to remove the advertisement links. I also noticed that it adds a meta tag in the HTML showing the version of the software under the "generator" meta tag.

I done a search on these forums and found this post as well as another that mentioned Precision Helper, which is free. Thus far I really like it. It was able to decompile my CHM. I was then able to create a new project by opening up the TOC file. I think Precision Helper will be my new Go-To help maker.

I looked over Helpinator. I searched around the website for the opportunity to get a free copy if you write a review about the product. I was willing to do that as I have no issues giving an honest review about a software product. Unfortunately, that option no longer seems to be available. I find the pricing to be out of range for me.

I understand the whole concept of these tools are mainly used by developers and businesses seem to expect developers to just be rolling in the cash. I just consider the $200 range for a help maker to be quite exepensive. I didn't even pay near that much for Neobook, DBPro, and the FTP Pro extensions. Now these are what I really consider development tools.

HelpNDoc is about $293. Helpinator is $99 (one time fee) + $15/month for updates and support or $299 one-time fee. Most of the CHM compilers are around $200+, which I consider to be too costly for what they really do. For the most part, the real hard work is ALWAYS done by Microsoft HTML Help Workshop. The software really creates HTML files and a TOC file. HTML Help Workshop does the rest.

I don't mind paying a fee and then yearly update fee. In fact, I'm more hesitant with software that doesn't have renewal fees. Seems nice at first but if that software doesn't have a track record for updates then what usually happens is the software developer ends up having to keep drumming up new business and eventually abandons their software. With renewal fees, the software developer is getting paid for their work on keeping their software up-to-date.