Authoring - Introducing the Workbench

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.


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.


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.


 About HelpServer
 Starting up and logging on
 The basic working principles
 Introducing the Workbench
 Adding a new project
 Creating the content structure with folders
 Adding the content in topics
 Previewing the result
 Changing the object description
 Adding new objects at a specific position in the folder
 Rearranging objects in a folder
 References to content objects
 Using the work modes
 The properties of a content object
 The properties of a reference to a content object
 Copying, cutting, and pasting
 The object status
 Searching for changed content
 Recovering unsaved changes
 Enabling and disabling a reference in a folder
 Auto selecting a topic in a folder
 Controlling the levels in the folder structure
 Grouping topics in a folder
 Your profile and Workbench preferences
 Using the content in help and documentation systems
 Formatting the content
 Searching and replacing text
 Reusing content with shares
 Navigating with hyperlinks
 Navigating with pointerpaths
 Using bookmarks and jumps
 Duplicating content with clones
 Using tables
 Including media files
 Navigating to web pages
 Using embedded chunks
 Including html code
 Navigating with menus
 Using snippets
 Spelling checking
 Using the view mode
 Creating an index
 Creating a FAQ
 Creating a glossary
 Team authoring
 Working with projects
 Setting up structured authoring
 Generating file based output
 Creating printed output
 Importing files and folders
 Loading files in the project gallery
 Converting legacy content
 Including legacy content in real time
 Transferring objects between installations
 Customizing the look and feel
 User accounts
 Working with templates
 Working with metadata
 Workflow management
 Using event exits
 Appendix A: The URL parameters
 Appendix B: The object indicators
 Appendix C: Play Javascript