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Author Topic: Best way to create integrated offline help/documentation files  (Read 4719 times)

rc.1990

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Best way to create integrated offline help/documentation files
« on: November 17, 2015, 07:43:12 pm »
PS

I think documentation effort would be best served working on the CHM files.
Online documentation is pointless if the application documentation is a mess.

What are the best open source (or at least free) options to create CHM files on Windows (7, 8, 8.1 and 10) and Linux (console or gui)?

Is there an easy open source way to create CHM files, something like an IDE or an Editor?

Is there a format better than CHM to integrate to Lazarus as an offline help?

marcov

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Re: Best way to create integrated offline help/documentation files
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2015, 08:02:48 pm »
PS

I think documentation effort would be best served working on the CHM files.
Online documentation is pointless if the application documentation is a mess.
fpdoc is pretty fine, but while there are general CHM help generation options, it is mostly meant for documenting source (packages).  FPC and Lazarus are documented using it.
Quote
What are the best open source (or at least free) options to create CHM files on Windows (7, 8, 8.1 and 10) and Linux (console or gui)?

fpdoc

Quote
Is there an easy open source way to create CHM files, something like an IDE or an Editor?

There is an open source one, the FPC chm package, and one from Microsoft (the htmlhelp workshop)

Quote
Is there a format better than CHM to integrate to Lazarus as an offline help?

No.

P.s. in general the problem is rarely the tools, just that it is hard to get people to work with them, rather than attempt to establish new tools.

That makes making tools for programmers so hard. Programmers are more likely to create new ones than actually use them :-)
« Last Edit: November 17, 2015, 08:04:52 pm by marcov »

taazz

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Re: Best way to create integrated offline help/documentation files
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2015, 08:25:43 pm »
I'm using helpmaker on windows  for now and I'm looking for a new tool my self too, seems like vizac has fallen of the face of the earth but so far I haven't found any other free tool as complete as that. For a commercial tool I can recommend Help & manual, HelpNDoc which also had a free personal version the last time I checked. No open source on that quality exists.
Good judgement is the result of experience … Experience is the result of bad judgement.

OS : Windows 7 64 bit
Laz: Lazarus 1.4.4 FPC 2.6.4 i386-win32-win32/win64

rc.1990

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Re: Best way to create integrated offline help/documentation files
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2015, 08:54:25 pm »
fpdoc is pretty fine, but while there are general CHM help generation options, it is mostly meant for documenting source (packages).  FPC and Lazarus are documented using it.
What are the best open source (or at least free) options to create CHM files on Windows (7, 8, 8.1 and 10) and Linux (console or gui)?

fpdoc

Quote
Is there a format better than CHM to integrate to Lazarus as an offline help?

No.

I am reading:
http://wiki.freepascal.org/FPDoc_Editor
http://www.freepascal.org/docs-html/fpdoc/fpdoc.html

I need make an offline help solution for final users not for programmers.

I am writing the manual (with many images) using LibreOffice Writer which can exports the files both as PDF and HTML.

Can I just use fpdoc to compile those HTML files generated by LibreOffice Writer and use the final CHM files integrated to a Lazarus desktop application?

rc.1990

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Re: Best way to create integrated offline help/documentation files
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2015, 09:19:42 pm »
I'm using helpmaker on windows  for now and I'm looking for a new tool my self too, seems like vizac has fallen of the face of the earth but so far I haven't found any other free tool as complete as that. For a commercial tool I can recommend Help & manual, HelpNDoc which also had a free personal version the last time I checked. No open source on that quality exists.

Thinking in a quality order, that would be?
1. HelpNDoc (versions: Personal, free; Standard, 100 €; Professional, 250 €)
http://www.helpndoc.com/

2. Help + Manual (versions: Basic, US$ 400.00; Professional, US$ 600.00; Server, US$ 1,100.00)
http://www.helpandmanual.com/

3. helpmaker (only free version)
http://helpmaker.en.softonic.com

taazz

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Re: Best way to create integrated offline help/documentation files
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2015, 12:02:17 am »
I'm using helpmaker on windows  for now and I'm looking for a new tool my self too, seems like vizac has fallen of the face of the earth but so far I haven't found any other free tool as complete as that. For a commercial tool I can recommend Help & manual, HelpNDoc which also had a free personal version the last time I checked. No open source on that quality exists.

Thinking in a quality order, that would be?
1. HelpNDoc (versions: Personal, free; Standard, 100 €; Professional, 250 €)
http://www.helpndoc.com/

2. Help + Manual (versions: Basic, US$ 400.00; Professional, US$ 600.00; Server, US$ 1,100.00)
http://www.helpandmanual.com/

3. helpmaker (only free version)
http://helpmaker.en.softonic.com
My personal preference is
1. Help + Manual (versions: Basic, US$ 400.00; Professional, US$ 600.00; Server, US$ 1,100.00)
http://www.helpandmanual.com/

2. HelpNDoc (versions: Personal, free; Standard, 100 €; Professional, 250 €)
http://www.helpndoc.com/

3. helpmaker (only free version)
http://helpmaker.en.softonic.com

Or it was when I last check them out a few years back, today I'll have to do a new evaluation to be sure but I suspect that both helpNDoc and Help & manual be in the top 5 zone with no or very small differences.
Good judgement is the result of experience … Experience is the result of bad judgement.

OS : Windows 7 64 bit
Laz: Lazarus 1.4.4 FPC 2.6.4 i386-win32-win32/win64

jack616

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Re: Best way to create integrated offline help/documentation files
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2015, 12:04:57 am »

P.s. in general the problem is rarely the tools, just that it is hard to get people to work with them, rather than attempt to establish new tools.


That's a very good point seldom made marcov

Graeme

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Re: Best way to create integrated offline help/documentation files
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2015, 11:27:03 am »
Is there a format better than CHM to integrate to Lazarus as an offline help?
Yes, INF help files and viewable with DocView. fpdoc can generate IPF output, which you then compile to highly optimised INF help files using the WIPFC compiler - a stand alone console tool included in the fpGUI code repository.

DocView is better than any CHM viewer I have come across. It is much faster at starting up (near instant) and loading INF files. You can load multiple INF files at the same time too (runtime concatenation of INF files), supports inline annotations, advanced searching with a rating system, and runtime building of Indexes, font and colour customization etc. DocView is also fully cross-platform, tested under Windows (win2k-win10), Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris and OSX.

Authoring help for your own applications (not class documentation):
I use the text editor called EditPad Pro. It has brilliant code template support, live file navigation and customisable syntax highlighter. A IPF syntax highlighter and navigation scheme is freely available on the EditPad Pro website. But any text editor (even Lazarus IDE) can be used to author INF help. The IPF syntax is easy and the tags are mnemonic based, so very easy to learn and associated with their function - it is also much less verbose than HTML or XML.

INF was originally developed by IBM, but is still an excellent (and relevant) choice today. Especially with the much more feature complete DocView INF viewer (compared to IBM's original VIEW application).

Even though Docview was initially written for fpGUI based projects, it works equally well as an eBook type application or integration with LCL based applications. Here is a link to a forum attachment of a fully working LCL application with DocView+INF incorporated. For the full discussion, see the Lazarus Forum post.

  http://forum.lazarus.freepascal.org/index.php/topic,27864.msg173887.html#msg173887

Docview screenshots:
  http://fpgui.sourceforge.net/screenshots_apps.shtml

Docview pre-compiled binaries:
  http://sourceforge.net/projects/fpgui/files/fpGUI/1.4/

INF help files for RTL, FCL, LCL and fpGUI
Pre-built INF files are available for download from the above SourceForge link too. They are also a fraction of the size of HTML or even CHM - yet contain the exact same help content.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2016, 10:46:18 pm by Graeme »
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fpGUI Toolkit - a cross-platform GUI toolkit using Free Pascal
http://fpgui.sourceforge.net/

Windsurfer

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« Last Edit: March 09, 2016, 08:05:24 pm by Windsurfer »