[Pharo-project] [ANN] HelpSystem (was ProfStef)

Torsten Bergmann astares at gmx.de
Sat Feb 13 16:13:27 EST 2010

>I have implemented some authoring capabilities in ProfStefBrowser 
>to create new tutorials

Yes, authoring capabilities would be cool to have. But first 
we have to find out what the content really should be and how
it should be represented (simple text, markup, active morphs, ...)

>Some kind of simple markup language to have for example links to other pages 
>or books, or to execute code snippets with a single mouse click

Do you know the Squeak welcome workspace? It provided something like this -
a Text could define "runs" to change style, color of text or even have 
clickable links with Smalltalk code behind - dont know if this is still 
possible in Pharo since parts of Morphic are removed. 
On the other hand it was Squeak only - hard to create from tyical
documentation formats (text, HTML, ...)

Maybe we could reactive code from "Scamper" (the Squeak web browser) 
for simple HTML like text styling. Using a subset of HTML as description
 would also allow us to publish the help contents on webpages later.

I also remember a full webbrowser written in Smalltalk (VW). Meanwhile 
it is open source (MIT), see [1] ... so lets just reactivate it ;)

We all have many ideas (like yours with the debugger) - but first
I would like to see a minimal version for a help system:

 - provide help contents as simple ascii text (as it is now)
 - ability to jump from a tool to a specific page (like F1-help on Windows)
   we can use a simple unique key which is defined in HelpTopic already.
 - ability to define order of pages together with order of (sub)books

With a minimal help tool (included in the dev-image) we 
can provide help to beginners and start documenting Pharo.

As a second step we can work on better markup, authoring, active content

However - the repo is open for any contribution...

>Now....It is not clear for me the differences between HelpSystem and

"HelpSystem" is like a normal help system you know from Eclipse, KDE,
 Windows, ...
It is more a reference/documentation kind of thing.

"ProfStef" is an interactive tutorial usefull to teach things step by 

>Help system is new ?

Yes, developed yesterday.

>should they be merged?

Hey, we just decoupled ... why merge again ;)
Read [2]

>when we should use one and when the other ?

ProfStef is for an introduction (5min course) on Pharo or tools, 
an interactive tutorial to introduce Smalltalk or basic concepts. 
It is more "workspace" oriented. See Laurents comments.

HelpSystem is more a general help system with a "browser" that 
should be available as a base framework so tools can provide 
help texts/contents to users. 


[1] http://www.cincomsmalltalk.com/userblogs/rowanb/blogView?showComments=true&printTitle=Im_back..._but_SWS_isnt&entry=3364012145

[2] http://lists.gforge.inria.fr/pipermail/pharo-project/2010-February/021782.html

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