Single format

Phil Bull philbull at
Tue Jul 15 22:07:48 UTC 2008

Hi Sandy,

On Tue, 2008-07-15 at 16:35 -0400, Sandy Harris wrote:
> Theres an old thread here:
> Discussion of issues that arise around trying to integrate all the
> docs
> for Linux despite different formats man, info, html, ....
> I would like to see some such interation for Ubuntu.

I think that settling on a single, simple format would simplify the help
system architecture greatly.

As you mentioned on the thread you linked to, HTML is the obvious choice
for a universal documentation format. The tools already exist, more or
less everyone is familiar with it and it's really easy to output into
different formats. Even converting the existing docs to HTML would be
pretty easy.

The problems with using HTML, as I see it, are how to get linking and
searching working and how to stop people from using crazy formatting
tags where they shouldn't!

The former could be dealt with by the help viewer, as Yelp does with
DocBook now. As for the latter, we'd probably have to write a cut-down
HTML schema so that documents with silly formatting don't validate.

Using HTML would open up new possibilities, like using JavaScript and
embedded multimedia, but it would be more difficult to enforce style
standards. (Turning the documentation into Myspace should definitely be



Phil Bull

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