Author-it Tips and Tricks

The following is a short video demonstrating an Author-it plug-in that I have developed for one of my customers.

It shows how plug-ins can save time and money while producing a better end product for your users.

If you have any questions about Author-it plug-ins or if you have an idea for a plug-in that I could develop for you, please contact me.

Earlier in the year I wrote about a mobile help and ePublishing tool I was developing. I have made a lot of progress since then and have refined the ePUB publishing extension to be more robust and consistent.

The ePUB publishing extension uses the Author-it Web Help output to generate an ePUB eBook. If you can publish your book to Web Help you can use this extension to create an ePUB book. There are some limitations when using this extension (for example, expanding inline and block text does not work nor do glossaries).

Watch the following video to see it in action and for more details about the extension.

Since recording that video I have incorporated indexes into the ePUB output.

I am now looking for beta testers for the ePUB publishing extension. Initially, I would like Author-it users willing to send me their Web Help output and I convert it using the extension. I hope to iron out some more bugs and also refine the process to cater for a wider variety of content. If you are interested in participating, please contact me.

One of the frustrations with Author-it AfterPublish macros is debugging them. Especially if you have a large number of macros. Something goes wrong, but you do not know what the macro was doing at the time it died. Or you are just getting unexpected results and you suspect maybe a variable is set incorrectly.

If you are writing a macro to run over a normal Word document (for example, by clicking a button on the toolbar), it is fine to just put debugging messages throughout the code using the MsgBox function. For example:

MsgBox ("Number of pages in document: " &
ActiveDocument.Range.Information(wdNumberOfPagesInDocument))

However, when running Author-it AfterPublish macros, you do not want message boxes popping up during publishing (especially if you have set up automated publishing jobs).

The solution I have come up with for this problem is a couple of simple macros that output debugging messages to a log file. You simply call a macro with the debugging message as the parameter. Using the example from above you would use:

Logs.WriteLog ("Number of pages in document: " & 
ActiveDocument.Range.Information(wdNumberOfPagesInDocument))

The WriteLog macro writes the message passed to the macro to the log file and prefixes it with the current date and time. By default, the log file is written to the publishing folder and has the same name as the published Word document with a .log extension (although this can be overridden).

Installing and getting it working

To install the log file macros:

  1. Download the Logs.bas VBA module from here.
  2. Open your Word publishing template.
  3. Open the VBA editor (in Word 2007/2010, on the Developer tab click the Visual Basic button).
  4. From the File menu select Import File...
  5. Browse to and select the Logs.bas file downloaded in step 1.
  6. Save your template.

You are now ready to write to log files. As shown above, call the Logs.WriteLog macro and pass any string as the parameter. For example:

Author-it log file example

The resultant log file will look something like this:

Author-it log file example output

Notes:

  • Writing to log files can degrade the performance of AfterPublish macros (because it increases the number of file I/O operations). You can turn logging off by setting the LogActive constant (near the top of the Logs module) to 'False':
Public Const LogActive = False
  • You can change the name of the log file by calling SetLogFileName and passing the new file name (you must also include the full path). For example:
Logs.SetLogFileName (ActiveDocument.Path & "\" & "AfterPublish.log")

I am re-running my free 'Bending Author-it' webinar for the American/New Zealand timezones.

This FREE webinar will be held at the following times:

  • 0600 Australia EST Wednesday 12 October 2011
  • 0900 New Zealand NZDT Wednesday 12 October 2011
  • 1300 North America PDT Tuesday 11 October 2011
  • 1600 North America EDT Tuesday 11 October 2011
  • 2100 United Kingdom BST Tuesday 11 October 2011

Register here.

Details of the webinar below.


Out of the box, Author-it revolutionises your authoring environment and gives you so many more delivery options. But, if you dig a little deeper and get your hands dirty, you can really make Author-it work for you; give your output a unique look, effectively manage and manipulate your content, and streamline your publishing processes. 

Join me for the free 'Bending Author-it' webinar where I will show you how to 'hack' Author-it and bend it to your will. Topics include:

  • Custom titles pages
  • XML hacks
  • AfterPublish Macros.

This webinar is for anyone who is interested in seeing how to push beyond Author-it's out-of-the box functionality. However, to do the 'hacks' yourself, you will be a reasonably experienced Author-it user who has intermediate Author-it configuration skills and some technical aptitude.

This is a repeat of my 'Author-it Hacks' webinar that I delivered earlier this year. I am repeating it for the North American and New Zealand timezones.

Eliminate repetitive, mundane, and time-consuming tasks when publishing from Author-it Cloud

Find out more

Segue Consulting

Providing professional technical communication, Author-it consulting, and online communication services.

We are one of only two Author-it certified consultants in Australia.

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