#38 Adapt docs to platform Help stystems

Hal Burgiss

A quick look at gnome help system indicates it might
not take much to integrate docs with gnome help. Which
means KDE and Win32, etc should probably get similar
treatment. Assuming this sounds reasonable to group.
(I know nothing about win help, but think it is rtf
format. And know little gnome or kde.) This should at
least be investigated as to feasibility IMO as this
might be the first place users go to look for help.


  • Jon Foster
    Jon Foster

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    > I know nothing about win help, but think it is
    > rtf format

    The original .hlp files are RTF-based, with standard
    footnotes to carry the metadata (headings, keywords, etc).

    The newer .chm (?) help files are "Microsoft HTML Help"
    format. I've never used these.

    Compilers for these formats are available free from

    I don't know which is easier to build from DocBook

    Blue skies,


  • Logged In: YES

    For OS/2, there is a converter in Hobbes
    that takes HTML as an input and produces IPF which can
    then be compiled (using IPFC) into an .INF file which is
    the platform standard format for help.

    I don't know what subset of HTML is supported and the
    quality of the conversion. I don't know if there is a
    demand since the help is in HTML and PDF, and, as a
    stdio program, it doesn't need integrated help.

  • Hal Burgiss
    Hal Burgiss

    • status: open --> closed-fixed
  • Hal Burgiss
    Hal Burgiss

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    David, you are right, it is certainly is not _needed_, but
    would be a nice touch to pull it off. Since we are bundling
    docs, it would be nice if they fit with the native method of
    dealing with such things.

    That being said, we are now linking User Manual from the CGI
    pages, which solves this "problem" in the best (and easiest)
    way, ie giving the user easy access to documentation. And
    since we are inherently a web|browser service, it makes good
    sense to have this stuff right where it is now. It would be
    even nicer to have the config file point to the local
    version, instead of the posted version, which is easy enough
    if we assume a standalong system. It gets much more
    difficult for LAN/networked installations since the docs
    need to be on a server somewhere. This might be solvable if
    Privoxy ever has that mini web server functionality that
    gets mentioned every now and then. Maybe:


    or somesuch.

    For anyone who has touched our sgml doc sources, I was
    looking at the new GNOME-2 (Linux) doc set up on Redhat last
    night. The help browser (called yelp), actually takes
    Docbook/xml raw source as input and processes it on the fly.
    Docbook/xml is very close to our Docbook/sgml. Quite cool,
    if you are into that kind of thing :/

    Anyway, closing belatedly.

  • Logged In: YES

    Why is this closed?
    Does it mean "We won't do it"? "We'll do it"? "Nobody cares
    about discussing this"?

    I thought that one feature of the integrated help systems is
    that they usually are easier to search for words than HTML. PDF
    can also be searched, though.

  • Hal Burgiss
    Hal Burgiss

    • status: closed-fixed --> open-later
  • Hal Burgiss
    Hal Burgiss

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    We can still discuss it all we want, even if closed. I
    closed it because I don't think see it happening. Reasons a)
    lack of man power b) lack of expertise for some platforms c)
    Not a demonstarted need for it (though I'd think it would be
    a nice touch). I'll reopen it, if you think it might happen.
    And will help if you want to take the lead on OS/2. The
    other platforms all need somebody to speak up, and pitch in.
    I can tell your from experience though that most people
    aren't interested in this 'dirty' work.

    As to the only platform I can really speak for is Linux. To
    an extent our installation is accessible through the
    so-called help system. At least through GNOME's. Since all
    man pages can be read with the help browser (but why bother
    :). Our user manual is not registered, and probably would
    not take a whole lot of work to have that happen. But I look
    at which programs actually take this step on Linux, and it
    is damn few. No daemons, just a hand ful of GUI utilities. I
    would say less than 10% on my system. My conclusion is this
    would be mostly wasted effort for Linux.

    The main concern I have (since I spent many, many hours
    writing the docs), is that the user can find them easily,
    and that they are helpful. That is job number on IMO. I
    think we have that with the link from the CGI pages -- it is
    readily accessible directly from the environment in which
    the user is likely to want it. A nice kludge. And quite
    cross platform :)

    Re-opening ....

  • Logged In: YES

    No, I am not particularly interested in the job.

    I understand now. You can close it :)

  • Hal Burgiss
    Hal Burgiss

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    We can always re-open if interested parties speak up.

  • Hal Burgiss
    Hal Burgiss

    • status: open-later --> closed-rejected