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zarlor
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Old March 11th, 2013, 11:04 AM
What if you have a homebrew setting and you want your group, who has Hero Lab, to see updates you make to it just like the notifications you get for official settings. Here's how to do it.

You'll need a shared folder that provides direct file access. DropBox is free and I've found it works well enough for this, but there are a few things you will need to be aware of using them. I'll use a fake Necropolis file for this purpose so you'll get to see some of the "gotchas" along the way.

I like to create a separate directory for each setting. So, if you have DropBox set up on your C: drive you might want to create a new directory for it, such as C:\Dropbox\Necropolis, for example.

Next, from within Hero Lab, go to "Tools -> Launch HLExport". The Game Folder line probably already has the location of where you keep your data files. Mine looks like "C:\ProgramData\Hero Lab\data\savage", but if you keep yours in a different place you can just enter it in or Browse... to it. Next you'll need to "Select Files". I find it a lot easier to hit that "Select None" button since you really only want to select the appropriate .user (and .1st if you have it) files for your setting. In this example I would only be selecting Necropolis.1st and Necropolis.user from my list and then hit "OK".

The "Portfolios" line is if you want to include, player or NPC portfolios in your package. Maybe you're the primary keeper of all the Portfolios for characters in the group. This is where you can include where those are located and select them in much the same way. I won't do anything here for this example.

The "Output Types" line is for selecting custom output files, such as if you created a special Custom Output character sheet for your game (and if you did, please let us know about it on the forum!) Again, I'm just going to skip this part for our example.

The "Third-Party Id" line should be a short (10 characters or less) name for your setting. For Necropolis I set this to "Necropolis" (again, without the quotes). I like to put no spaces into this ID and I'm not sure if it will work with spaces there or not. If you make a .1st file or set a custom Source Name for your source, it's probably best just to use that name for consistency.

The "Name" is a descriptive name for your setting. Try not to make it too long. In this case I just went with "Necropolis" again but spaces are fine in this one, so if you needed to you could put in "Hell on Earth: Reloaded" and be just fine.

"Version (x.y)" is for what version you want to give your setting. If this is your very first one, then 1.0 is a good number to start with. Many folks like to increment the second number if they make minor changes, so 1.1 all the way through 1.99 if you really wanted, and increment the first number (resetting the second) when they make some kind of big change, so your next big release might start off at 2.0.

The "Export File:" should point to the .hl file you want to create. You can either browse or type in, using our example above, something like "C:\Dropbox\Necropolis\Necropolisfake.hl"

And finally the "Comments to Include in File:" is for any comments you may have about the changes you've made. It is character limited, though, so act as if you're making a Tweet or something.

Finally when you hit "Generate" it will create the file right where you told it to in that "Export File" line.

Next you'll want to create a new file in that same location called "updates.xml" (without the quotes, but you can give it any name.xml you like). So for this example we'd create a file at C:\Dropbox\Necropolis\updates.xml. Here is an example of what I have in that file for Necropolis:

Quote:
<document signature="Lone Wolf Updates" version="1">
<update name="Necropolis" date="2013/02/06:0847" size="48" description="Necropolis sample data file for Hero Lab." uniqueid="0" filetype="3" download="https://dl.dropbox.com/s/nl5jsxr5otygnbt/Necropolisfake.hl?dl=1" website="https://www.dropbox.com/s/nl5jsxr5otygnbt/Necropolisfake.hl" companyurl="http://www.dropbox.com/" priority="99" major="1" minor="0" patch="" folder="savage" special="Necropolis" dynamic=""/>
</document>
That might be a bit hard to read, but it should give you some idea of what's there and what we'll need to do.

The first item of importance is "update name=" on the second line. That's where you want to put the exact same "Third-Party Id" you used above, so Necropolis for our example.

The "date=" entry should be set to the current date. You'll need to modify this file every time you create a new version of your .hl file so be sure to update that date here as well. Of note, skald figured out for us that "The date must contain YYYY/MM/DD, not single characters in the case of months or days 1-9." So make absolutely certain you are using a date like 2017/01/01 and NOT 2017/1/1. That seems to cause things not to work.

Next is a "size=" entry. This is the size of your .hl file in KB. This is really just used to give you a progress bar when the file is downloading so it's nice to put something in here to let your users know how long it may be before the file is finished downloading. You can always put it a little high to be on the safe side. In my case my system is set up to automatically tell me the KB size of the file. Your system might give it in Bytes, instead. If so you don't have to divide it by 1024 to get the KB size if you don't want, you can just estimate it by dividing it by 1000. So let's say our file says it's size is 49,152, you can call it "49" for the size entry, or even 50 if you want to really be on the safe side. Better to go a little big than have too small of a number here.

"description=" is just a descriptive blurb about what this file is.

"uniqueid=" can just stay 0

Also leave "filetype=3"

The "download=" line is where things can get a tad tricky when using DropBox. If you go to your DropBox folder and right-click on your new .hl file you can then click on "Share Link" This should bring up your web browser and probably even a little pop-up box with a button for "Get Link" (if you didn't get this pop-up box just click on "Share" in the upper right and it will come right up for you). When I do that it copies the link to my clipboard and if I paste it out I get "https://www.dropbox.com/s/nl5jsxr5otygnbt/Necropolifakes.hl" Unfortunately that link isn't directly to the file, it brings us to a webpage where we can then download the file. For our "download=" line we need the link for the actual file! Luckily we just need to change the www in www.dropbox.com to dl instead. That just give us "https://dl.dropbox.com/s/nl5jsxr5otygnbt/Necropolisfake.hl" and that is what we want to put into our "download=" entry.

Next we have "website=" and this is just another way for folks to download your file. Personally I like to put that very first download link above that DropBox gave me as the place were folks can get the file, "https://www.dropbox.com/s/nl5jsxr5otygnbt/Necropolisfake.hl". But maybe you have a nice website where you want people to go to instead with links to your setting files so you can put a link to that here instead, if you prefer.

For the "companyurl=" line I just put DropBox's main URL. Not sure if it matters too much what URL you put in there.

"priority=99" is just fine to leave it as is.

Now "major=" and "minor=", these will need to match up to your "Version (x.y)" line above, where the "x" number is the major release and the "y" number is the minor. So if this is our first, 1.0, release we'd put 1 for our major and 0 for our minor. It's pretty important to make sure you get those numbers right.

patch="" is fine to leave as is.

"folder=", for this forum, this needs to be "savage". That tells it to put your files into the savage directory structure in Hero Lab, but remember that not everyone necessarily has that in the same location on their hard drive. So just saying "savage" here will get it to the right spot.

For your "special=" line I just put in the same thing I did for my "update name=" entry above.

Finally you can leave "dynamic=""" just the way it is.

That seems like a lot, but once you've got your file set up it's pretty easy to just change the "date=", "size=", and "major=" and "minor=" entries whenever you do an update.

All that is fine and dandy, but it doesn't help the folks who want to get your updates much, does it? For that we need to go back to DropBox to get another one of those download links, but this time we're looking for the link to our "updates.xml" file. We're looking for the direct link here, so so just like you did for your "download=" entry above, only this time using updates.xml instead of your .hl file. The only thing to note is that DropBox apparently recognizes .xml files so it will show you the contents of the file, but don't worry your Download link his just moved to the Upper Right on your screen for getting the direct link. In my case going through all of that gives me "https://dl.dropbox.com/s/x2tf7ruk5o5zigi/updates.xml"

Now you just need to give that link to your gaming group. They will need to go in Hero Lab and go to "Settings -> Choose Secondary Updates Sources", then click on the "New Source" button in the pop-up box and in the line under "Enter the new URL to use for updates" they just need to paste the link you've given them and click OK. The next time they start up Hero Lab your setting will show up on their updates listing and you're good to go!

EDIT: A quick update (as of 01/13/2017 anyway) in that I can no longer seem to copy out direct links from dropbox in the way mentioned above. However, if it wasn't clear anyway, you should just be able to change the www.dropbox.com part of your link to dl.dropbox.com and be good to go.

Lenny Zimmermann
Metairie, LA, USA

Data files authored (please let me know if you see any issues with any of these if you have/use them):
Official (In the downloader)
50 Fathoms, Deadlands: Hell On Earth, Deadlands: Noir, East Texas University, Necessary Evil (requires Super Powers Companion), Pirates of the Spanish Main, Space 1889 (original file by Erich), Tour of Darkness, Weird War II, Weird Wars: Rome
Coming Soon
Evernight (LWD has completed their review but I have some fixes to make first)
Unofficial Files (PM me to get a copy if you need it)
Necropolis (NOT Necropolis 2350. I have the version from when it was still a PEG, Inc. property but I have 2350 and I have been looking at updating to that version in the near future.)

Last edited by zarlor; January 17th, 2017 at 07:17 AM. Reason: Updated to handle some slight changes in how Dropbox showed things for the download= line.
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SeeleyOne
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Old March 11th, 2013, 12:11 PM
Another way that has less steps is to just share the user file, such as by using dropbox as you mention, or just using email. This only works for your personal gaming group, but that may or may not be an issue.

Download the new user file and place it into the "C:\ProgramData\Hero Lab\data\savage" folder. I have made that a shortcut so I can play with the files manually. Save the newest version to that folder and you are done.

Again, this "simple method" is really for your own gaming group. If you want to share with people that are not in your group, such as placing it on your site, use Zarlor's method.
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zarlor
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Old March 11th, 2013, 04:26 PM
It looks pretty complex, mainly because someone had asked me for a more step-by-step method on exactly how to do it, but in reality it's really pretty easy once you get it down, and actually I find it a lot more convenient for my local group than simply sharing the .hl file. Especially since once you've got the URLs in place the file gets updated whenever you save it and you only have to change a couple of things in that updates.xml file, you never have to mess with the URLs again. The next time anyone in the group starts up Hero Lab after you've made a change, it lets them know just like any other update and they're good to go.

So simply sharing and/or emailing may seem like it has less steps, but if you wrote all of the steps out to do that and included the steps the rest of the group is following to import the file, it's not really that many less steps when all is said and done. And if you're doing any number of updates (for my local group I maintain the "master" of all of their character profiles for 2 different games, so those sheets get updated every advance) it ends up being less steps in the long run.

Still, whichever works out easier is definitely going to be the way to go and it never hurts to have options!

Lenny Zimmermann
Metairie, LA, USA

Data files authored (please let me know if you see any issues with any of these if you have/use them):
Official (In the downloader)
50 Fathoms, Deadlands: Hell On Earth, Deadlands: Noir, East Texas University, Necessary Evil (requires Super Powers Companion), Pirates of the Spanish Main, Space 1889 (original file by Erich), Tour of Darkness, Weird War II, Weird Wars: Rome
Coming Soon
Evernight (LWD has completed their review but I have some fixes to make first)
Unofficial Files (PM me to get a copy if you need it)
Necropolis (NOT Necropolis 2350. I have the version from when it was still a PEG, Inc. property but I have 2350 and I have been looking at updating to that version in the near future.)
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jbearwillis
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Posts: 705

Old March 11th, 2013, 05:30 PM
Found out it didn't like my High space Campaign Setting name, Had to shorten it to HighSpace as one word for the updater to work - Took awhile to figure that out. I don't know if it was the length or the spaced words.
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zarlor
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Old March 11th, 2013, 06:00 PM
I would guess the space if it was one of those IDs. I think spaces only really work in descriptive text, for the most part. Which is not uncommon for a lot of database and programming languages.

Lenny Zimmermann
Metairie, LA, USA

Data files authored (please let me know if you see any issues with any of these if you have/use them):
Official (In the downloader)
50 Fathoms, Deadlands: Hell On Earth, Deadlands: Noir, East Texas University, Necessary Evil (requires Super Powers Companion), Pirates of the Spanish Main, Space 1889 (original file by Erich), Tour of Darkness, Weird War II, Weird Wars: Rome
Coming Soon
Evernight (LWD has completed their review but I have some fixes to make first)
Unofficial Files (PM me to get a copy if you need it)
Necropolis (NOT Necropolis 2350. I have the version from when it was still a PEG, Inc. property but I have 2350 and I have been looking at updating to that version in the near future.)
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jbearwillis
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Old March 11th, 2013, 06:23 PM
LOL I almost give up and said the heck with it, but give it one more shot and it worked, it just wanted to be a pain and the errors it was showing was like reading Russian, or stereo instructions.
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jbearwillis
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Old March 11th, 2013, 06:33 PM
I was wondering, when you have to do an update do you just change the info in the xml and put the new data in the dropbox or do you make a whole new xml.
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zarlor
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Old March 12th, 2013, 03:16 AM
I just update the same xml file and overwrite the existing .hl file with the new one. That way none of the URLs ever change and, like I mentioned above you only have to update the "date=", "size=", and "major=" (if you changed it) and "minor=" entries in the xml file and you're done.

Lenny Zimmermann
Metairie, LA, USA

Data files authored (please let me know if you see any issues with any of these if you have/use them):
Official (In the downloader)
50 Fathoms, Deadlands: Hell On Earth, Deadlands: Noir, East Texas University, Necessary Evil (requires Super Powers Companion), Pirates of the Spanish Main, Space 1889 (original file by Erich), Tour of Darkness, Weird War II, Weird Wars: Rome
Coming Soon
Evernight (LWD has completed their review but I have some fixes to make first)
Unofficial Files (PM me to get a copy if you need it)
Necropolis (NOT Necropolis 2350. I have the version from when it was still a PEG, Inc. property but I have 2350 and I have been looking at updating to that version in the near future.)
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Dark Lord Galen
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Old February 6th, 2014, 07:59 AM
Zarlor, Thanks for posting this... its exactly what I was looking for.
5 Stars
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zarlor
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Old February 6th, 2014, 08:17 AM
Glad to be of help!

Lenny Zimmermann
Metairie, LA, USA

Data files authored (please let me know if you see any issues with any of these if you have/use them):
Official (In the downloader)
50 Fathoms, Deadlands: Hell On Earth, Deadlands: Noir, East Texas University, Necessary Evil (requires Super Powers Companion), Pirates of the Spanish Main, Space 1889 (original file by Erich), Tour of Darkness, Weird War II, Weird Wars: Rome
Coming Soon
Evernight (LWD has completed their review but I have some fixes to make first)
Unofficial Files (PM me to get a copy if you need it)
Necropolis (NOT Necropolis 2350. I have the version from when it was still a PEG, Inc. property but I have 2350 and I have been looking at updating to that version in the near future.)
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