Enter HelpServer, a multi-platform solution to manage enterprise content and online user assistance on the web.
With the HelpServer Workbench, teams of authors can create structured content as reusable and shareable objects. This enables them to keep up with the explosion of information and make projects easy to maintain. These projects can support content management, document and file management as well as context-sensitive help for web and desktop applications.
Authors are able to collaborate on projects even when they are geographically dispersed. They can activate new content and changes to existing content by means of a click.
People all over the world can then access that content in real time over the Internet. The HelpServer server engine dynamically delivers the most relevant information based on the user's specific needs.
HelpServer's authoring tool, the Workbench, provides the framework for organizing and editing all the elements of a content management system or a help project on multiple platforms.
The difficulty of creating new content and, later, adapting or updating the content to new scenarios is very often the main stumbling block for the adoption of a tool or technology. Hence, you’ll not find many bells and whistles in HelpServer's Workbench. Instead, you get a WYSIWYG editor, a spell checker, and the required functionality for editing and organizing your projects.
HelpServer’s interface is by default available in English. But it can be provided in French, German, Dutch, or Japanese, and other languages on request (delivery time is 2 months after request).
Structured authoring is a method of writing and arranging content that relies on rules and a way to enforce these rules. It also separates structure from content and presentation. Structured authoring improves the management of information by creating a consistent content structure that is used throughout a document or a project. This structure helps in the creation of small topics which are stored as reusable objects.
In HelpServer, you achieve this by defining content architectures and documentation standards by the use of classes. Once defined, these classes guide content through the development process. This approach may seem restrictive at first, but it saves time in the end by forcing documentation to be complete, consistent, and designed for re-purposing.
HelpServer helps you improve data accuracy by consolidating all content into a single, reliable source, and also manages the web of relationships that exists between disparate content objects.
By means of a copy/paste or a drag/drop operation, you can reuse a content object in several assets without losing visibility of the impact of changing it. This prevents redundancy and updates to reused content cascade everywhere, ensuring content accuracy for all your deliverables. Thus, you and your co-authors can easily reuse content throughout your entire organization in future documents.
HelpServer provides a unique team-authoring environment that uses a shared, object-based content database that provides excellent support for day-to-day collaborative authoring activities. A virtually unlimited number of authors can use HelpServer's Workbench as a team to create, maintain, translate, review, and publish content in real time over the Internet.
There is no third-party tool involved. The HelpServer Workbench uses an automatic check out/check in procedure with exclusive locks for editing. This prevents authors from working concurrently on the same object. While an author makes changes, the others are only able to view the changed object. When the author has finished, he can release the object for use by others.
In addition, the browser-based authoring feature allows authors to work on content from anywhere, with any workstation with Internet connectivity without requiring them to install anything on their desktop.
To use or harvest the HelpServer content people do not have to install or setup anything. They just use their own web browser as a real time web portal to the content. In HelpServer you define and customize multiple web portals. Each web portal is a standardized transparent client interface to request and receive content from the HelpServer (web) server.
The server centrally manages content in a database and handles the integrity and security. It transfers content objects to and from all the Workbenches in real time over the Internet. It dynamically dispenses the content in web pages as they are requested by your users. Now your content is no longer created and published in a static format.
In a client/server solution such as HelpServer the Workbench and the web portal are the clients allowing you to edit and browse the content respectively while the server is responsible for database access, security, business logic etc. Next image illustrates the HelpServer client/server model.
The HelpServer client/server model
With HelpServer, you have a unique approach to supporting dynamic content and ensuring that tailored information reaches your targeted audience. There is no need to write scripts or to develop programming skills. Instead, the dynamic character of the content relies on conditions you define in the system. These can be based on events and behavior in your organization's processes or on the roles, the preferences, or the experience people have in your company.
Once the conditions are defined, you apply these as markers to different areas of your content or you split up a topic into dynamic chunks of information. You can even use tags in a topic to mark words, sentences, or paragraphs that need to be displayed or printed conditionally. This is the way to produce multiple results from one source.
HelpServer keeps all the chunks of content nicely together in its Workbench, which greatly facilitates maintenance and translation.
When your users browse the content, HelpServer checks the conditions against their profile, the occurrence of predefined events, or variable/value pairs entered in the URL or provided by an exit routine. Next, the server dynamically compiles the chunks of content in function of the conditions. Thus, people can browse, export, or print tailored content without having to hunt for it.
With this feature your authors do not require any technical skills. So, there is no downtime waiting for scriptwriters to get the job done. Anyone with basic word processing skills can create dynamic content. Armed with the ability to easily deploy content in the user's own language, authors can now focus on content creation instead of on management and formatting activities.
HelpServer's Smartcontent feature is a mean to support preferred content for your user community. It is not a mean to secure the content, though. To effectively and easily secure content for people with different needs it is recommended to acquire HelpServer's extended security feature.