FW Editor: What are your plans or objectives in the near future?
Roman Macura: At this moment we finished some improvements to our website design, and in the very near future we want expand our offer of actions for product "Precision Builder Express".
FW Editor: How and when did you start writing the code for Precision Helper? What inspired you the most? Do you plan to develop new software, or are you more focused on optimizing the current ones?
Roman Macura: The first lines of code for Precision Helper were written almost two years ago. First final version has been released exactly one year ago, 22. July 2009.
What inspired us most? It was a few things at once, but probably the main reason was that we simply could not find a product for creating a help on the market, that could fully satisfy our functional and financial requirements. So we decided to create a tool with the features that are adapted to experienced users who want to have a project (so called) under control and who do not want to rely on the possibilities of WYSIWYG editors and possibilities of styles and templates predefined in the most of other tools.
Such users prefer a favorite external tools for creating the topics (html editor, image editor, etc.) and everything what they require is only a quality product, that will allow them to include topics into the table of contents and into the index and that allows to compile such a project into the resulting form of the help.
Regarding our future plans, so we want to expand our portfolio of some new products, but we also want to dedicate more time to improving existing products, mainly based on a lot of ideas and requests from our customers and users.
FW Editor: Can you tell us more about the most important tools incorporated into Precision Helper?
Roman Macura: In the help authoring tool I think the most important tools are the good editors of contents, of index and of the topics. Thanks to the possibilities of using keyboard shortcuts, full support for work with clipboard and drag and drop, and the ability to choose your favorite editor to edit topics, Precision Helper (in our opinion) meets these requirements.
We tried to incorporate all the other additional tools that would the author might need, into the Precision Helper, including the tools that will allow the definition of all components and settings for "Microsoft Compiled HTML Help" format - a format that is currently still the most widely used for distribution of application's help.
So, in the Precision Helper you can find the visual "help window types" designer, context help items editor including the "text popups" definition,
API Tester for quick verification of context help links, support for decompilation of existing CHM files, CHM files content browser, and a lot of other supporting tools.
One of the most important tools could be also the easy to use management of help projects and the possibility to compile the projects in a batch.
Complete description of Precision Helper and all the informations about its features, you can find in the "online help" on our website.
FW Editor: Do you plan to improve Precision Helper in the future? If yes, how are you going to do that?
Roman Macura: Yes, we want to extend the features of Precision Helper in a few areas:
in particular it is an import from and export to the various e-book formats (ePUB, mobi, kindle, ...), possibility to define and use custom templates for creating help topics, a direct export to the Adobe PDF, and what can be interesting - a support for scriptable plug-in modules.
FW Editor: What are the advantages of using Precision Helper over any other similar product?
Roman Macura: As mentioned in answer to the second question, Precision Helper is primarily designed for a specific group of users. For these users, Precision Helper is useful with its approach to editing the help project.
However, its additional tools can also be used for testing, conversion and various other activities that are often available as a separate (and paid) products.
Among the features, that I would like to mention, belongs certainly the visual designer of "help window types", import (decompilation) of existing CHM files (there is a need to note that in the first phase of decompilation we use the third-party product - chmdeco), the browser of content of resulting CHM files, batch compilation of help projects and the management of help projects in general, export into the ePUB (e-book) format, and in the latest version significantly improved export to the WebHelp format.
Furthermore, the full support of "Microsoft Compiled HTML Help" specification, including all the attributes of context help (so not only the IDs and aliases, but also the comments, text popups and source files)
and the possibility to dynamically merge the contents of another help projects into the main project.
Maybe I can mention also an extensive options to customize the look of user interface and the global search function.
FW Editor: Besides Precision Helper, is there any application that had a positive impact over you? Why?
Roman Macura: If you mean the help authoring tools area, then I have to mention "Help And Manual". I think this is a product with exactly balanced price / performance ratio, and I can fully recommend it to anyone, who want to use a WYSIWYG help authoring environment.
If you mean any application that we like and that we use, I have to tell "Total Commander" without the doubts.
FW Editor: Unlike so many similar applications, Precision Helper is totally free and this is a great thing. Why this decision? Why have you decided to release it as a freeware?
Roman Macura: We had a several reasons for that, but most important was that as a totally new and unknown company, we wanted to determine if the applications we develop
are of sufficient quality and whether there will be some interest in them. A new product, that is offered free of charge, has probably a better chance to be tested by more people, so the author can get sufficient number of responses to his work.
FW Editor: Do you have any message or anything to share with Precision Helper users?
Roman Macura: Yes I have. I would like to thank all those who are helping us to improve Precision Helper - either by sending the suggestions, reporting the bugs, or by simply sending a positive feedback to this product, which to me personally is very encouraging. Especially many thanks to our contributors, who prepared a translations of Precision Helper environment to other languages.
Also I have to thank you, editors from FamousWhy.com, for this interview.
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