Shared documentation system
shaunm at gnome.org
Mon Dec 8 14:09:10 EET 2003
On Mon, 2003-12-08 at 05:27, Thomas Leonard wrote:
> On Sun, Dec 07, 2003 at 09:37:35PM -0600, Shaun McCance wrote:
> > On Sun, 2003-12-07 at 20:44, Murphy wrote:
> > > And, after all, we can't forget whatever GnuStep, etc
> > > help systems there are or may be in future.
> > Sorry, I meant to say something about this as well. I'll admit I have
> > absolutely no idea what desktops other than GNOME and KDE are doing for
> > documentation, and I only have a vague idea of what KDE does. People
> > from Rox, XFCE, GNUstep, and any other desktops should certainly throw
> > their thoughts in.
> Well, since you asked (though I don't suppose it's very useful):
> We store application documentation inside the applications, so we don't
> need an indexing system (the same GUI object that runs the application
> when clicked also offers a menu with Help on it). So, application help is
> always with the application it describes, and the same mechanism is used
> for organising both.
> The Help menu item opens the directory containing the help files inside
> the application (so you don't need to run any of the app's code to read
> the help). All normal document formats are therefore supported. Plain text
> and DocBook/HTML are the normal ones, and the normal file association
> mechanisms are therefore used to set which programs to open them with.
> Help that isn't attached to any application (HOWTOs, etc) just have their
> own directory anyway, so you can put them in /Documentation/HOWTOs, etc
> and access/search them via the normal filer interface, as with your other
All right, I figured it was something like that. That similar to how
MacOS X does things, which is to be expected.
> What's wrong with using a web browser? It was stated in the first post
> that 3rd parties tended to do this (with the implication that it was bad).
> Users already understand their web browser, it can read lots of formats
> (including DocBook and other XML formats using an XSLT stylesheet), it
> works on the console or in a GUI, etc.
As far as I'm concerned, the only thing that a help viewer and a web
browser have in common is a document viewing component. We have many
good reasons for having a dedicated help viewer in GNOME. Regardless,
I'm not here to argue what sort of application each desktop should be
using to view documentation. That's a policy decision, and one of my
stated goals is that the help system should impose very little policy.
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