Re: Help Browsing in GNOME

Miguel de Icaza <> writes:

> Hello guys,
>    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
>            anyone.

This does in fact suck.
> 	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.

I don't think Nautilus is all that hard to get compiled. No harder
than any other in-development application, and we actually list all
the modules you need from CVS, what versions, and what flags to
configure them with.

The real reason no work is getting done is because everyone expected
the RH guys to do this, I think.

> 	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.

Since Red Hat started this feature (in fact, it was the whole original
reason for Elliot's Nautilus code!) and acted as if they would
continue it, I think we can hardly be blamed for that. :-/
>    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
> 	   pleasant tool.
> 	b. I would like to use the existing "gnome-help-browser" base,
> 	   replace it with GtkHTML, incorporate Jonathan's great work
> 	   for Docbook->HTML.
> 	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
> 	   those). 
> 	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
> Nautilus.
>     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.

All the code you need to do the actual browsing (as opposed to content
display) portions of this new help browser will be basically
duplicating Nautilus. The code to load URIs, the toolbar navigation
buttons, the mechanism for displaying special index views in the
sidebar, history, bookmarks, etc will all be duplicating Nautilus
code. Nautilus will most likely ship in the July-August time frame, so
if this help browser work takes only a month (which would be
impressive), that will be a lot of redoing of stuff for a solution
that will last 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 months, if the nautilus-based help
browser is the ultimate solution.

I think it would be better for someone to do the last 20% of the work
(i.e. 80% of the time, sigh) on the Nautilus-based help browser so the
intended long-term solution will be more polished when it
ships. Either that or decide to give up on the whole idea of the
nautilus-based help browser.

I do still think separating the help broswer-specific code to it's own
module would be good, so it can have it's own release schedule if
necessary, but if anyone can commit to actually working on it, Eazel
will be glad to involve that person in our release planning (we tried
to do that with RH but they seem to have lost interest).

 - Maciej

[Date Prev][Date Next]   [Thread Prev][Thread Next]   [Thread Index] [Date Index] [Author Index]