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Final 2014 Frontier Dispatch

31 December 2014 — One hundred thirty five days have now passed since our last report from “out here” where nearly everything is possible.

Not only is nearly everything possible here, but there are at least two ways — and often several — to accomplish the same objectives. Most every road leads to Rome, so to speak, but one must choose one’s routes with great care and foresight to assure a safe trip to the future without ever having to look back.

Being here, seeing the next leap forward in Helix come together is like being the proverbial kids in the candy store. It’s really hard to stop and write a report about what you’re doing when you’re having this much fun. A lot has happened in those one hundred and thirty five days, way too much to cram into a single edition of The Latest Word. In fact, a very long and painstakingly detailed report was just tossed onto the campfire a few short moments ago. With the sands of 2014 rapidly circling the neck of the hourglass, we want to focus on tangibles, and much of what has been going on is infrastructure changes, which are, frankly not that interesting to read about and even more stupefying to have to live through. So, focusing on the facts, we must begin this missive with the definitive news that the introduction of Helix 7 will not take place in 2014, as we had so boldly predicted in August. However, as you’re about to learn, we are definitely not sending you into 2015 empty-handed.

The Helix Code Exchange is open

We have been talking about this project, originally known as the Helix Code Library, and now as the Exchange, for years now, with nothing to show for all the talk. Now, that is finally about to change. Why now?

There was never much point in attempting to market code when the application using that code was not stable. There really is no nicer way to say it. Birthing Helix for macOS has been a tumultuous experience, with an abundance of highs and lows. But all through this process, we have still had to provide a product that was stable and usable and would not cause any harm to the light years of legacy information contained in Helix applications around the world.

Now, in case no one has noticed, with the exception of a handful of annoying anomalies encountered by those intrepid few who have upgraded to Yosemite, we are in that period of stability right now. When Helix 7 ships, it will perform properly in Yosemite, just as Helix 6 does in Mavericks. For now, we have a stable and relatively stress-free environment. It really is safe to go back in the water, and the time is opportune to provide helpful tools for those who are at last jumping back into Design Mode, for whatever reason.

The Exchange opened with relatively little fanfare this summer, with the release of our Font Find and Replace applet. Today we formally introduce three new products that you may find useful. In keeping with the holiday season, these “stocking stuffers” are all designed to make your Helix work go a little easier.

First up is Helix® Professional TimeTracker, a very useful tool for managing the work of collection design and testing. Keep track of the time you — and your associates — spend working on a collection in the collection itself, and easily export the data when it’s time to bill the client. Helix® Professional TimeTracker is delivered as a Helix clippings file that you can add to any collection.

The second new product is Helix® PDF-Emailer, which enables you to email any form in Helix with a single click. Designed for Client/Server users (but it also works with RADE and Engine), Helix® PDF-Emailer automatically fills in the recipient and subject of the email, and can be set up to merge data from your collection into the body of the email message, along with the PDF attachment of the printed form. (The product page has a video showing how it works in practice.)

The third is a powerful new Helix assistant called called Helix Workbench, created by long-time developer and Helix trainer, Chuck Hinkle. Helix Workbench provides analyses of your Helix work, making it an excellent teaching tool, along with tools that automate many of the repetitive tasks involved in creating Helix databases. Helix Workbench will elevate the state-of-the-art in any Helix collection.

Each these items has its own product page in the Code Exchange, and all are available for immediate purchase through the Helix Web Store and are the first of what we hope will be many more useful tools that extend the value of your investment in Helix. (And if you’ve got a product you want to sell through the Helix Code Exchange, contact Gil to discuss the possibilities.)

What’s Next

Given the great progress we have already made, we are planning on placing the next version of Helix in your hands sometime in the first half of 2015 as over the next few months, Helix 7 efforts shift focus from development to beta testing.

Between now and then, we strongly urge those of you who have yet to upgrade to Helix 6.2 to get out there and do it, and those of you already in 6.2 who may have initially been scared away by some of the instability and slowness they observed in 6.2, 6.2.1, 6.2.2 and 6.2.3 to download 6.2.4 and give it a fresh look. Remember, you can try before you buy! We know you’ll be glad you did.

Finally, thank you for hanging with us all these years. As you will learn in the weeks to come, 2015 should be one of the most exciting years in the history of Helix. Happy New Year to all!

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