[Lazarus] Building help files: the nitty-gritty

Reinier Olislagers reinierolislagers at gmail.com
Wed Jul 18 13:41:41 CEST 2012

On 18-7-2012 13:04, Michael Schnell wrote:
> On 07/18/2012 12:49 PM, Graeme Geldenhuys wrote:
>> What I was talking about in this message thread is "application help".
> I see, but as the IDE _is_ an application, I feel that - if Lazarus is
> supposed to provide means for application programmers to integrate a
> help system in their apps and fill it with appropriate information - it
> would be a good idea to do both with the same tools, leveraging both the
> amount of work that needs to be done by those creating the system(s)
> that allow for inputting and displaying the help content, and the
> learning curve for those that as well use and help improving Lazarus (a
> big plus for an open source project as Lazarus is).

See Mark's and my thread on what to do to actually get things working
and Graeme's investigation into the chm help package (haven't looked at
that yet, myself).

I'm sorry but it seems so much more constructive to discuss actual ways
forward to solve things based on what we have now, even if it is step by
step, than to keep talking about abstract concepts.

We have a lot of components already there: a tool that can generate chm
files (even if it has limitations), a cross-platform viewer for chm help
(lhelp), a communication mechanism between application and help viewer
that tells the viewer what to show.

1. CHM context-sensitive help
We'd need to document the protocol used by the IDE to instruct the help
viewer to display certain help

2. Other help viewers
If we get the communication protocol documented, even other help viewers
like Graeme's docview could get adapted. This would mean more choice in
the help document format you use and the tools that can be used to
author help.

3. Ease of use
If we get the communication protocol "packaged up" as a Lazarus
component, it will make it easier for developers to add context
sensitive help.

4. HTML help
This page: http://wiki.freepascal.org/Add_Help_to_Your_Application
would indicate application help using HTML files is possible but lacks
context-sensitive help, i.e. directing the viewer to a specific keyword
or chapter.

Is this a direction that you would support?


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