In The Beginning:
What started as a glossary of definitions sometime in 1998 for my students, quickly expanded. After 6 months of messing around with HLP file generators that used RTF documents, the first release came out in December of 1998. It started with about 450 glossary words and about 42 ineligible collateral items for receivables and inventory. We used Visual Basic to make a menubar and then took screen images of every menubar option and linked them. It looked like a real menubar and it worked (HTML5 before it’s time).
The Village Comes:
But then the e-mails started to come in. “Hey Joe, what about…” and the lists grew. My friends at IBM inspired me to add the fishbone diagrams. E-mails came in from all over the world and the list of ineligible items got bigger and bigger. We added audit insights for workpapers and recently we expanded into fraud alerts, alternative calculations, confirmation finders and other advanced fishbone diagrams (Pro version). It has slowed down in recent years, but it keeps growing and we’ve got 190+ ineligible links now.
Copyright Office Acceptance:
We had to argue with the US Copyright office on the filing of the electronic document as an HLP file and we presented our argument by asking “How come Microsoft can file Form TX and cover their Help files?” Our Help File document (like millions of others) were made of code, text and images to form a multimedia presentation and the “text” was all code. Management at the US Copyright office heard our argument loud and clear and changed the copyright form based on our presentations and the lack of solid guidance to clearly cover multimedia presentations. Yeah, that was us and everyone was nice about it!
Just-In-Time ABL Training:
The ABL-Help file is now installed on more computers than any ABL software product in the world. Thousands of copies and that includes installs at most of the larger institutions too. It is considered an “essential” training tool by many back-office departments and new field examiners like the portable nature of having the program with them as they travel. When Clear Choice Seminars, Inc. was hosting 10-12 cities per year, it was an essential tool to skip the basics and move onto more important analytics. Of course the ABL-Help file got more and more information over the years and that let us cut out much of the basic stuff from the Intermediate ABL Audit course.
Update at least annually? – ABSOLUTELY! The file format has changed too. We switched from .HLP files to .CHM help files and that lead to better control, HTML formatting and the use of JS libraries for the menubars and popups. We’ve upgraded the software used to make ABL-Help perhaps 5 times along the way and we’ve updated the compiler and installer every year. The program and installer are also code-signed (COMODO) so that you know it comes from us.
In 2011, we switched to an EXE format so that we could give away a free version and then sell two enhanced version. Our students (www.ccsiweb.com and www.abltrain.com) and software users (www.finsoft.net) get the more advanced versions. ABL-Help Pro comes with the Fraud Prevention course on ABLTrain.
All proceeds go to charities!
The three versions are:
- ABL-Help Free
- ABL-Help Classic (about $19.00 USD or included with most ABL-Train courses)
- ABL-Help Pro (about $49.00 USD or included with ABLTrain’s Fraud Prevention seminar course)
Future of ABL-Help Training Materials?
Where will it go next? A lot of that is up to you. We get great ideas for ineligible items from all over the world. We have an opportunity to take it in new directions that will add value to the users. Looks like we’re just getting started when I think about the possibilities. [Joe]
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