HelpServer's Workbench reflects an object model rather than a file-based model. When you construct a structured document with a common text processor, you create an outline structured text in one file. In HelpServer, you create a content structure. This structure is shown in HelpServer’s Workbench in tree view on the left pane of the Workbench window.
This mechanism of separating structure and contents has a great advantage: you can create as many structures or views for the same collection of information as you like without having to duplicate them. This significantly facilitates maintenance.
If you have installed a trial version then a demo project called 'Animal information - Demo' is included. If you expand the objects under the 'Content' root object the Workbench will look like in the next image.
The Workbench of a trial installation
You can use this project to have a quick tour in the Workbench .
HelpServer’s content management concept is based on two content objects: folders and topics.
A folder is a node in a structure such as ‘library’, ‘book’, ‘chapter ‘, ‘customers’, or ‘documents’. A folder is a container to hold other objects as do folders in Windows Explorer. A folder also reflects a level in a table of contents.
A topic is an object that holds the actual content which can be text or files that contain images, sound, video, etc. Normally, HelpServer topics are short and are not really structured pieces of content.
You can find these objects as tree nodes under the 'Content' root object on the left pane of the Workbench. Depending on what you select in the tree on the left one of the following editors will appear on the right.
A folder editor to see and change the details of the objects in a selected folder.
The folder editor
An integrated text editor to process a selected topic's content.
The Workbench has full editing capabilities that permits you to modify your topics. You do not need another text processor. This editor operates on the right pane of the Workbench window the moment you select a topic on the left pane.
The Workbench's integrated text editor
You create a content structure under 'Content' by means of ‘folders in folders’ and ‘topics in folders’. This structure is shown as a tree view on the left pane of the Workbench. To add the actual content, select a topic in the tree and type the text on the pane on the right.
Just keep in mind that you cannot edit the objects directly in the tree on the left pane. But you can perform numerous other functions in the tree by right-clicking the mouse on a node and popping up the menu as demonstrated in the next image.
The functions of a tree node
If you are working with a common installation then the 'Content' root object is empty and the Workbench will look like this.
The Workbench of a common installation
In the next images you will no longer see the pre-installed 'Animal information - Demo' project under 'Content'. It is only available as a show case in a trial version. To prevent distraction we demonstrate the steps in a Workbench of a common and clean installation with an empty 'Content' root object.
So, the 'Content' root object is the one you are going to work with most of the time. It provides a structure for your entire content collection. Under this object you build all your web based help and documentation projects. The entire content collection is presented as a hierarchy of objects that you can expand, collapse, and select.