Archive for the ‘Author-it v5’ Category


Author-it’s Xtend gets its first patent

May 30, 2009

Last year I started using Author-it’s Xtend, an add-on to Author-it, and have been very impressed with its capabilities.

Earlier this week, Author-it Software Corporation announced that they had received approval for their patent for Xtend from the New Zealand Patent and Trademark office — the first of many, they hope.

Congratulations Paul and the Author-it team!


Author-it: Variants and searching

March 16, 2009

If you’re delving into Author-it 5.1 or later, be aware that child variants don’t show in the Quick Search folders — only the parent objects are listed. And because the Quick Search folder view looks quite similar to the main Author-it window, it’s easy to think you’ve lost your variants, when you haven’t.

Also, when you right-click on a parent object in the Quick Search results and select Show Relationships, you’ll see the child variants listed in the top section, but double-clicking won’t open them and right-clicking and selecting Locate will give you an error message “Could not locate object!”.


Close or minimise the Quick Search window and you’ll see your variants in their folders again.


Author-it: Publishing to Word on Vista

February 17, 2009

If you’re using Vista AND you keep your Author-it Data files separate from the Author-it Program Files, you should never see the error below and so can ignore the rest of this post.

However, if you have your Author-it ..\Data\Templates\.. or Publishing folder on your C:\Program Files\.. drive in Vista, you may get a message that you can’t publish to Word because the file is full, write-protected etc.

The reason you get the error is that Vista’s security prevents you from writing to C:\Program Files. My understanding is that you get the error message because Author-it wants to create the RTF in the ..\Data\Templates\.. folder first, before creating the Word document in the Publishing folder.

How to prevent it? Well, you have a couple of options:

  1. Move your ..\Data\.. and ..\Publishing\.. folders out of C:\Program Files\.. to a less secure location. You’ll probably have to reassign your paths in Author-it if you do that.
  2. Assign Write permissions to the user (go to the Program Files folder, drill down to the Author-it Templates [and/or Publishing] folder, right-click on it and select Properties, go to the Security tab, select Users, click Edit, then select the Full Control check box in the Allow column).

Author-it: Word output

February 14, 2009

Sylvia asked the Author-it User Group about getting decent looking Word output from Author-it. Here is my response:

… the Word output is whatever you want it to be. It’s only limited by what you are capable of doing in Word (with some small limitations). Author-it ‘out of the box’ has some reasonable Word templates — did you try those?

Author-it doesn’t control your Word templates — you do. What Author-it does is map a path to your template(s) for publishing, maps the Author-it style names to the style names in the Word template, maps the auto text entries for headers and footers, and controls the page setup (via media objects).

You can *definitely* get great Word output from Author-it, but it’s entirely dependent on your ability to use Word. If you don’t have the skills, consider hiring an Author-it consultant to set up what you want — typically, it’s a one-off task.

Now a BIG word of advice — make copies of the ‘out of the box’ templates and store them in a subfolder called Originals or similar, BEFORE you fiddle with the Word templates. That way you can always go back to the default set if you stuff things up (technical term!). Another piece of advice: If you are in the early stages of evaluation, leave the templates alone for a while. Play with the interface, get familiar with the object and single-sourcing concepts, and run through the provided tutorial.


Author-it: HTML filenames

November 14, 2008

Margaret on the Author-it User Forum list wanted to know whether to use the auto-generated HTML filenames for her output (e.g. 1234.htm where 1234 is the Author-it object code ID number), or add her own ‘logical’ filenames to each Author-it topic object so that she gets filenames like printing_a_page.htm. She particularly wanted to know whether it matters if there are both in the Publishing folder, and whether it affects the way the Help works.

My response:

For HTML output, you’ll get <object_code.htm> unless you have explicitly entered a file name on the topic’s Web tab.

Having the filenames or object codes (or both) is neither here nor there as far as Author-it is concerned. However, you might want to consider your users, your deliverables, and your time!

If your output is going on to the Web (not internal), then a named file may be more readable. That said, if the output has a TOC/navigation pane the user tends to only ever see index.htm anyway, no matter which topic they’re reading.

CHMs don’t care about filenames—everything is compiled into one file anyway. Other HTML outputs—see the info for ‘Users’ above.

To use filenames you have to manually decide on and add a filename to every new topic. There are a few issues to consider with this:

  1. Filenames should not contain any spaces, unless you are ABSOLUTELY certain that the HTML files will only ever live on a Windows machine/host server.
  2. Filenames must be unique.
  3. If you duplicate a topic, you must remember to delete the duplicated filename and replace it with another, unique one. Otherwise you will get at least one topic that’s published as a blank topic where two or more with the same filename exist in the same book.

When I first started using Author-it I was still hung up on unique file names for topics. I liked the look of them in a folder list, they had meaning to me, etc. However, the overhead of maintenance became something I didn’t want to continue, so I went back to using the default object codes. And you know what? It really didn’t make any difference at all—except free up a lot of ongoing maintenance time for me. Not one user ever noticed or complained.


Author-it: Gaining more screen space

October 8, 2008

If you’re using Author-it v5.x and want more screen ‘real estate’, you can hide the large buttons on the ribbon interface.

Just double-click a tab header on the ribbon and the toolbar buttons go away! Double-click it again to redisplay them.

Neat trick! It looks like it works in other ribbon interfaces too—I just tried it with SnagIt Editor v9 and it worked there too, so I suspect it’s standard behavior for all ribbon interfaces.

(Thanks to Helmut in the Author-it User Group for this tip!)


Author-it: Autofit tables in Word output

October 6, 2008

This macro allows ALL tables to resize automatically according to the width of the available space in Word. Very handy if you decide to change your Author-it Media Object’s left margin width at a later date… But be warned—ALL tables will resize to fit the width of the available space, including those you’ve set to be wide or quite narrow. So use it with caution and try it on a test document first.

Add it as an AfterPublish macro.

 Sub ResizeTables()
   Dim myObject As Table
   For Each myObject In ActiveDocument.Tables
   myObject.AutoFitBehavior (wdAutoFitWindow)
End Sub