Xubuntu Documentation Browser spec

Cody Somerville cody.somerville at gmail.com
Tue Jun 5 16:37:26 UTC 2007

Hi Everyone,

 I'm really excited to see some healthy Xubuntu documentation discussion

On 6/3/07, Jim Campbell < jwcampbell at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 6/2/07, Luzius Thöny <lucius.antonius at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > Ji'm not against a dedicated help browser for xubuntu, however i think
> > that at this point, it would make more sense to put effort into the
> > documentation itself :) to be honest, not much has happened there since
> > dapper, and quite a bit of our documentation is really outdated. jani
> > pointed out a few points which need fixing (see list archive), but
> > unfortunately that did not  get done in time for the feisty release.
> As Freddy said, we're starting a rewrite of the documentation, and will be
> using topic-based help.  As a side note, I would also like to help with
> upstream Xfce documentation, as they don't even have any officially
> collected docs for 4.4 at this time.  I've made initial contact with
> another interested party via the Xfce mailing lists and IRC, so I expect us
> to be able to get things moving.  To put things mildly, Xfce documentation
> is a bit unorganized now, though, with separate SVN repos for each
> application's documentation.  :(  We'll see how things go.

I too agree that actually improving the documentation is much more important
then the development of a browser. We need documentation to browse before
the documentation team gets too concerned with the development of some sort
of browser. I also agree that it is quite the process to develop an
application, get it into the repositories, promote it to main, and get it
included in the seeds - even more so when relying on advocation to do so.
However, I think that the documentation team is making a step in the right
direction by making an inventory of what needs to be done in the short to
mid term to improve the quality and usefulness of the Xubuntu documentation.
This would include the development of a simple, light-weight browser.
Firefox, especially the later versions, are simply too heavy for older
machines to use as a documentation browser (and some might argue for
anything else as well).

I'm happy to hear that you have intentions to work with the upstream. :)

personally, i think that firefox is quite up to the job of presenting
> > help pages. the only thing i miss is a multi-page 'search', and maybe
> > the ability to launch it with 'f1'. that could probably be fixed though
> > by binding 'f1' to launching firefox with the help documents open,
> > couldn't it?
> This is something we discussed in our Xubuntu devel meetings on IRC.  One
> of the concerns we had was that people would be likely to just start using
> google (or whatever) once they'd opened up firefox.  We had mentioned a
> possible workaround for this - possibly opening a special instance of
> firefox with no address bar or link toolbar . . .   but since we already had
> this nice start on the Welcome Centre, we thought it could be refashioned as
> a documentation center/browser without too much extra effort, and would
> allow us to avoid loading a heftier Firefox...  Could some others who have
> been involved with the Welcome Centre can shed some light on how difficult
> it might / might not be to refashion as a documentation browser?

The only relationship between the Welcome Centre and the proposed
documentation browser specification is that the development of the Welcome
Centre was halted because we felt it was becoming too much like a
documentation browser. When it comes to developing it, the Welcome Centre
code isn't a going to be the starting place.

As to how much "effort" will be required for it to be developed, I don't see
it as being particularly taxing - a lone python hacker could easily
accomplish it. It is entirely possible that the documentation browser could
be developed and implemented for this release. The real work is getting the
application packaged, promoted, and seeded (which will require the
assistance of a core-developer).

a good thing in my opinion would be to increase the
> > visibility of the desktop guide, by setting up a 'Help' entry in the
> > 'Applications' menu, which would open the desktop guide in firefox.
> That's a possibility.

I think this is an excellent idea and one that was also suggested in the

please consider that writing a new app from scratch and bringing it into
> > the 'main' repo is not a small task and needs some dedication from the
> > developers. i'm not saying it shouldn't or couldn't be done, i'm just
> > suggesting to think about whether or not it's worth your time before you
> > start.
> Agreed.  We need to make sure that it's the best option for Xubuntu, but
> from looking at the Welcome Centre, I'm not too sure that we're really
> starting from scratch here, though.

You're not far from it. :P

We also need to consider whether it would be harder to write the
> Documentation Browser, or to remove the gnome dependencies from Yelp.  It's
> up to other people with more skills in these areas than what I have, but we
> should be able to answer that question before making a decision.

That would be futile and was also discussed in the meeting.

about translations: the xubuntu desktop guide *has* been in rosetta and
> > has at least been partially translated there. however, i cannot tell you
> >
> > whether the translations were actually shipped with xubuntu feisty
> > 'final' or not (i'm guessing no :[ ).
> We'll try to write a good enough set of documentation for people to
> translate this time around.  :)

I'm very confident that you will too.

> --
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> xubuntu-devel at lists.ubuntu.com
> https://lists.ubuntu.com/mailman/listinfo/xubuntu-devel

Cody A.W. Somerville
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