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Re: An interesting blog by Matt Zimmerman touches on docs
On 07/09/2010 03:38 PM, Jim Campbell wrote:
Along these lines, I think we can perhaps usefully divide help into
* application that are fundamentally web-based (for example, Software
Center, browsers, Ubuntu One, email). It seems perfectly reasonable for
these to offer their help only on the web, and many do just that.
* applications that are not fundamentally web-based (many examples).
For these, web-based only help is a harder sell up front, but still, I
think, the trend is towards hosting help online for them too (for
reasons I described in my previous post).
* Ubuntu help. This is 'everything else'. In this area, I argue for
limiting on-disk content to Getting Started/Getting Connected and
hosting the rest in a wonderful, community oriented and
community-engaging web site.
On Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 1:50 PM, Jason Cook <jason@xxxxxxxxxxx
The reason it may be a problem is that often when I don't have an
internet connection, I need to know how to use an applications
that have not yet learned how to use or am experiencing problems
with. Though most are self-explanatory, some app are more complex
and, when using this method, I can't use them or solve the problem
until I get and internet connection. As I previously mention, if
there was an easy way to download the documentation for
offline use, then this method would work. Until there is a way
to access the internet from *everywhere* this, at least in my
opinion, this won't work.
There seems to be some concern that Ubuntu would not ship any
non-web-based desktop help. I want to stress that this would not be
the case. Moreover, keep in mind that much of the help that is on the
system comes from upstream application developers. So, if I work on
the gedit docs, and the gedit docs get shipped with gedit . . . You
would have gedit docs on disk.
Now, I might see some issues with a gradual drift of application
developers of putting more of their help online rather than including
it on-disk. That is up to the application developers (e.g., the
shotwell documentation is all on the shotwell website). It's also up
to KDE and Gnome to drive those kinds of decisions at the application
Consider the needs of a server administrator, though. The server docs
are not easily viewable on a server, and the server docs aren't in a
format that is easily searchable on the web. Having a well-updated
support website could make things easier for that person. Also,
consider a scenario where an Ubuntu upgrade causes a problem on
certain computers. Right now people hear about fixes through blogs
and forum posts, but perhaps an update could be quickly put up on the
support website to let people know how to fix the problem, and people
could be directed there.
Or let's say that you get an error in your application, and you search
for it on the support center website. Perhaps the site could say, "We
didn't find anything on that error - would you like to file a bug
I do think we'll have to work out how to make sure that user help for
Ubuntu-specific apps like the Software Center is available both
locally and on the web, (though I'm not sure how well the Software
Center functions without web access . . . ), but those kinds of things
can be done.
Note also that hosting content primarily on the web may simplify the
content pool source format problem by eliminating some required delivery
formats. And as such, the common pool could grow and be more widely
used, potentially eliminating content (and translations of it) that may
now be duplicated in different Ubuntu variant help systems.