Help Browsing in GNOME
- From: Miguel de Icaza <miguel helixcode com>
- To: gnome-hackers nuclecu unam mx, gnome-devel-list gnome org,gnome-announce-list gnome org, gnome-list gnome org
- Subject: Help Browsing in GNOME
- Date: 12 May 2000 13:51:40 -0400
Today on #gnome we were talking about the help browser in GNOME,
and the new developments that went into Nautilus to provide a nice,
fully featured Help Browser.
This is the status of various things:
1. The new help browser in Nautilus is not being maintained by
2. The new help browser depends on Nautilus, which is not an
easy beast to get compiled, hence, no work is being done by
anyone for the moment.
3. Eazel has not allocated hacker time to work on that, so the
nautilus-based help browser is effectively on a different
schedule than Nautilus.
Here are some ideas (I will use letter to not confuse you all now):
a. It is not hard to write a nice help browser, it just
requires a lot of love. Consider the panel, today it is
basically the same panel we had a year ago, but still,
trough a lot of love, lots of careful iterative
improvements, and lots of little changes, the new panel has
become not only a great tool to use, but a visually
b. I would like to use the existing "gnome-help-browser" base,
replace it with GtkHTML, incorporate Jonathan's great work
c. I would like to improve Jonathan's Docbook translation tool
so it can also handle reference-like manuals (all of the
GNOME api is in Docbook format, and we could render
d. Include the code from testgtkhtml into gnome-help-browser
to give it some love.
So the core idea is to incorporate the salvageable pieces of code
from the hyperbola project in Nautilus into either a separeate module,
or gnome-core HEAD (after the 1.2 release) that does not require
Of course, we do want to keep the Nautilus support, but this can
be nicely split into a separate file that only gets compiled/linked if
Nautilus libraries are detected, and hence a Bonobo/Nautilus component
is provided at that point.
So we need a motivated hacker to work on this. This is not about
making source code beautiful, it is about making a functional
application, and giving users a better help system than we have now.
Various tasks can be identified:
1. Create the new module: either use testgtkhtml as the "base"
for the help browser, or the existing GNOME help browser.
Figure this out.
1.a. If the help browser is chosen, then incorporate
tesgtkhtml neworking features into GNOME help browser
(kill the ugly lynx -dump hack from there).
1.b. If testgtkhtml is used, add a cache, add handlers for
"man:", "info:", "docbook:". This might be easier to
2. Add support for the new help browser to keep track of
"selections" that the user has underlined in a page (for
underlining stuff on it, and saving this across visits, a
very cool feature TkMan used to have).
3. Add a comprehensive search facility that would search
across man, info, etc. Lets start with "simple" and add on
top of that.
4. Add Nautilus hookups as a separate compilation module.
5. Improve Jonathan's Docbook to HTML conversor.
6. Integrate Jonathan's Docbook to HTML into the system.
So, who has the time, and wants to do this?
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