Open source help software

Subject: Open source help software
From: Bill Lawrence <lawrence -at- mayaviz -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 09 Aug 2005 11:18:01 -0400

I have been using open source tools for help development quite successfully for the past five years. Both the Modular Docbook Stylesheets and the DITA stylesheets can create a variety of help outputs, including Microsoft HTML Help, Java Help, Eclipse Help, and Oracle Help. They can also output plain HTML and XHTML. Since I'm more familiar with the Docbook stylesheets, I'll speak to those.

The stylesheets themselves are implemented in XSL and are available on Sourceforge. They are continually updated and have become increasingly more powerful and stable over time. Unlike RoboHelp or similar tools, they can be directly integrated into the software development build process, so that you can automatically build help with its related software.

Everything you need, including powerful XML editors, is free (with the possible exception of a commercial-grade PDF formatter, which costs around $200). However, the hidden cost is that to use these tools efficiently you must have at least one person on your staff that understands XML, XSL, FO, and at least one additional scripting language. The real benefit to switching to these tools is that you are never again at the mercy of a particular commercial vendor.


Bill Lawrence


Now Shipping -- WebWorks ePublisher Pro for Word! Easily create online
Help. And online anything else. Redesigned interface with a new
project-based workflow. Try it today!

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as:
archiver -at- techwr-l -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Send administrative questions to lisa -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Previous by Author: Newsletters -- what's the best tool for creating them?
Next by Author: Re: Any open source help software tools?
Previous by Thread: RE: Screenshot copyright issues
Next by Thread: xml tool questions

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads