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

Danny Chan chan_dhf at yahoo.de
Sun Feb 14 04:34:16 EST 2010

Am Samstag, 13. Februar 2010 22:13:27 schrieb Torsten Bergmann:
> >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

I fully agree with this plan. So let's get the definition of the structure of 
help contents right, so people can start using and especially writing content 
quickly without having to fear that they need to restructure their content 
with the next release. All the presentation stuff of the actual content can be 
done later and does not decrease the value of the documents already written.

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

Let's coordinate, I have little time and do this for fun, but I would love to 

Maybe add a document to HelpSystem with a basic vision and all the ideas for 
the future?

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

I think that HelpSystem with little work can provide a superset in 
functionality of ProfStef. As I perceive it, the goals are different. ProfStef 
is to be simple, fun and small. And to accomplish this it is basically full 
featured and finished. HelpSystem is to be comprehensive and needs a lot of 
work. I was excited when I found out that the debugger is so well integrated 
in the work flow that debugging isn't something that distracts from coding. I 
would love to have something that somehow makes the experience of 
documentation similar to that. And that's why it is a good idea to decouple 
these two projects.

> >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.
> Bye
> T.
> [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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