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What is it?
Shalom Help Maker
v0.6.1 beta (but fully working)
Freeware (no ads, no nag screens, no limitations, no 'phone home', no spyware etc.)
Author: Finn Ekberg Christiansen

Tip from PowerBASIC Peer Support Forum: Using different fonts in an [SHM] project

[What's new?]   [Download page]   [Mailing list]   [E-mail]   [More of my software]

You can download the fully working beta version from this page. Don't forget to download the help compiler too (if you haven't already).

Mailing list
Join my mailing list if you want to be kept informed of new versions. Click here to go to the list home page where you can subscribe and unsubsribe.

For new users
I've now added a "How to get started, step-by-step" page to the help file. Open the page from the Help menu.

Shalom Help Maker is absolutely free! But if you want to make a small donation (and I could use the money, since I'm jobless), click on this button, or come back later, after testing Shalom Help Maker:
But please don't feel obliged. This version of Shalom Help Maker (and most likely also the final version) is freeware!

Review it!
When you've used Shalom Help Maker for some time, please go to this page and write a short review (your opinion, good or bad) and give it a rating. Thanks!

Yeah, yeah, but what is it?

Shalom Help Maker (SHM) is a Windows help file editor that does not need MS Word. It supports images, popup windows, links to other pages, web pages, E-mail addresses etc., and has automatic updating of links (jumps to other pages) when pages are rearranged or deleted, listing of unused bitmaps and popup pages, listing of links to the present page ... and lots more.

SHM makes old-fashioned hlp files, not chm files (HTML based help files). It runs on all Windows versions, including XP.

Unlike other help file creators, Shalom Help Maker works like any ordinary editor and therefore has practically no learning curve. You don't have to know anything about help file making. Just start typing, insert pictures and write page headers. Hit F4 to get a preview of a page or F9 to compile (make) the whole help file.
You don't need MS Word to write help files! Shalom Help Maker (SHM) is your editor and you produce the help file with SHM and the help compiler (separate download found on the download page).

This is Shalom Help Maker with the Page Jumper activated (press Alt+End or Alt+right-click):

Shalom Help Maker main window with the Page Jumper activated
The second horizontal toolbar, the left vertical toolbar and the row of snippet buttons can be hidden to provide more writing space on small screens.

Here's an overview (present status) of some of SHM's functions and limitations:

You can make popup windows, jumps to other pages or to targets, KLinks, links to internet pages (or E-mail addresses) and execute external files.

 To help you manage your help file project these tools have been added:
Level 0 lets you compile real fast (great while you're working on a project) and level 1 or 8 gives you optimum compression (use just before distributing the help file). All compression levels supported by the compiler are available.

Insert jump to a target
If you select a word before opening the 'Insert jump to a target' window, the word will be inserted as the hotspot text and the target names will be searched for a target name that contains the word. So this is what you might see when opening the window.
Use the Project Options to choose font sizes and fore- and background colors for the entire help file.
Apply bold, italic or underline formatting to selected text. Align text or pictures (left, center, right).
A header or a paragraph can be framed. Just select the text and click the Box button.
You can define 16 different (text) colors in each project. Select the text and click a color on the vertical toolbar. Or click a color and then add text in between the tags. Each project can have a different set of colors. The colors are saved in the shp (project) file. So when you load a project the colors on the toolbar will change to that project's colors. The color will be represented (as code in the editor) by a number (1..16) that will be substituted with the actual color when compiling. This means that you can change a certain color through the whole help project just by changing the color definition (right-click any color on the toolbar and change the color in the Text Color configuration window).

Each project is saved with its own options (language, character set, colors, font size, font color, front page/no front page etc.).
In this window you can also save your choices as default values for new projects.

In this window you can choose highlighting colors, editor font, editor background color, tab length, left margin, the size and position of the compiled help file and more.

Each of the 6 snippet buttons can be assigned a number of snippets (code and text fragments).
Right-click any button to open the Snippets Configuration window, where you can add, move, copy and rename snippets.
When you have used a snippet (by selecting it from the button menu) you can repeat it by pressing Ctrl+Shift+E.

The Page Organizer makes it easy to move pages. Click the buttons to move pages around or press Ctrl+Arrow Up/Ctrl+Arrow Down. You can even have selected pages sorted alphabetically. When you close the window all links and jumps in the project are automatically updated. If you delete a page Shalom Help Maker tells you if there are links on other pages that point to the page you are deleting. You can then cancel the deletion or ignore the warning.

If you have a lot of pages in your project you can use the the Page Jumper (hit Alt+End) or the Go To Page menu to quickly jump to a specific page.
Or open the Page Organizer (hit F5) and double-click the page you want.

In the Header Editor you can have Shalom Help Maker generate help page constants for programming purposes (or you can enter them yourself).
Using these help page constants you don't have to change the code when you move or add pages. Just copy the constants and paste them into your project (Delphi/C++/C/VB). Click a button to write the constants to disk or copy them to the clipboard.

You can choose language and character set to make help files with non-western languages and characters.
Right-to-left writing (used in Hebrew, Arabic etc.) isn't supported!

Only bmp images are supported by Shalom Help Maker (not the rarely used dib or wmf). The Microsoft help compiler doesn't support the JPG format. GIF images can be used, but aren't explicitly supported by Shalom Help Maker (since tests show that BMP files are compressed more effectively than GIF files). Click the Insert Image button to insert an image in your project. The image can be copied to the project folder by clicking a button.

Keyword Editor with search & browse HIGHLIGHTING
Formatting codes, comments, targets, image codes and URLs (web addresses) are highlighted (i.e. given a customizable font color and/or background color) in the editor.

The editor supports multiple undo/redo levels and drag'n'drop of text.

On each page you can fill in a Keywords text box with page related keywords separated by semicolons. These keywords can be found in the index of the help file after compiling.
The page headers (which you enter in the Header text box) will automatically be used as keywords also.
You can organize the pages with the Page Organizer. The result will be visible in the Contents window of the compiled help file. If you need the headings in the Contents window to differ from the page headers, you can enter alternative headers in the Header Editor.

Each page has a context id (number). The front page (if any) has a customizable number (default is 9999). The first page is 1, the next 2 etc. These contents numbers can be used from within your programming environment to open the help file to a certain page (but you should use the page name constants from the Header Editor).

Right-click the editor window to display the context menu. If you left-clicked a topic ID and then right-clicked, you can jump directly to that topic/page (SHM will select the topic ID):

Use context menu to go to a topic

See for yourself. It's old-fashioned freeware. There's no time limits, nag screens, ads or 'call home'.

Shalom Help Maker is a work in progress, so there's still stuff missing (and it WAS really meant to be VERY simple....): Made with
Borland Delphi 4 on Windows 2000/XP. Works on other Windows versions too, though.

Updated Oct 12th, 2006 (Just removed link to a gone-away review + added tip from PowerBASIC)
Finn Ekberg Christiansen, Copenhagen, Denmark, Scandinavia