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Re: An interesting blog by Matt Zimmerman touches on docs


My two-cent perspective on this topic (again ;-):

* In my opinion the overall trend is towards web-hosted help, for many reasons (of which I listed some at the start of this thread, but they include: easier for users to find content, easier for users to submit content, higher quality content through easy user feedback/correction, more flexible and dynamic content, broader scope of content (*ubuntu, for example), no need for building/packaging/installing, a more dynamic UI with beautiful design, with fresh eye-candy and a wonderful user experience, easier to have a common source pool, a wonderful web presence that is good *buntu 'marketing', etc.)
 * As a first draft, I imagine something like this:
  - *buntu help web portal
- with excellent search of all content, very prominent (and with ability to search various sub-scopes of the whole site, for example 'official Ubuntu' content, 'official Kubuntu' content, or 'user-submitted Ubuntu Light' content)
  - official articles
  - user-submitted articles (some simple source format, TBD)
  - user-ratings of articles and comments on articles
- editorial team to identify and write core 'official' articles (source format, TBD, but needs to support at least xhtml and PDF, localized) - editorial team also reviews user articles with high ratings and promotes to 'official' - all main variants and their launchers covered (Kubuntu, Ubuntu/Gnome, UNE, Ubuntu Light, etc.)
  - localization/translations facilities designed in from start
  - site team to develop/maintain site
  - build team to manage docs format, conversions, etc.

* There are disadvantages, for example no internet or very slow internet limits access to help. Although I presume the no internet/very slow internet situation will continue to become a smaller use case and may eventually all but disappear. * Therefore, I propose the strategic direction for *buntu help should be towards a web-hosted help portal and away from packaged, on-disk docs.

Naturally, it would need to be phased in, and the question is legitimately raised: how would users get critical content in the meanwhile without web access, that is, could they download it, and if so how. I imagine that current docs will continue on their current track(s) for some time, during which time they would continue to be packaged and installable. During this time the *ubuntu help website could come into existence and may come to carry an increasingly important part of the load. If it succeeds, the need for comprehensive on-disk help would be understood to decrease and could therefore diminish in scope.

As to "downloading" the web site help. Perhaps the only parts that would need to be downloaded would be the 'official' articles/content. So that could be made available as PDFs. It would be a simple matter to generate such PDFs when the articles are made official and to make them easily downloadable.

Let me state one obvious point: all of this is highly theoretical and speculative. It is not clear whether the ubuntu-docs and ubuntu-manual communities see this as the correct direction.


On 07/10/2010 08:22 AM, Jason Cook wrote:
I think that limiting the documentation is a good idea. I think there if the documentation is removed from the CD then there needs to be an easy way to download it. The php.net <http://php.net> is one way to do it.

On Sat, Jul 10, 2010 at 12:55 AM, Phillip Whiteside <phillw@xxxxxxxxxx <mailto:phillw@xxxxxxxxxx>> wrote:

    Hi Jason,

    I'm sort of aware that wget can 'suck' in web sites (e.g. wiki
    pages). I have not used it, but it does seem up to the job.




    I do appreciate that room is tight on a CD, but if the images are
    kept to a minimum, html code as generated is quite a low over head.

    i'm not too sure how hard it would it would be to provide
    something like http://php.net/download-docs.php

    As we are discussing documents, as well as on / off line help is
    this a path worth investigating?

    I've seen a couple of instances of chm documents and have the
    linux version of the reader, it works very well. I'm not saying
    that we should go down that route, just that it is possible to get
    the html version of a help area down-loaded.



    On Sat, Jul 10, 2010 at 12:58 AM, Jason Cook <jason@xxxxxxxxxxx
    <mailto:jason@xxxxxxxxxxx>> wrote:

        I defiantly agree that the /primary/ development should be
        done on the web based content, *but* there should be a way to
        have the docs available offline. The way I recommended would
        work well, but would be *very* difficult.

        On Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 4:30 PM, Kyle Nitzsche
        <mailto:kyle.nitzsche@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>> wrote:

            Hi Jason,

            On 07/09/2010 04:08 PM, Jason Cook wrote:

                The inclusion of on-disk documentation should be up to
                the user and be "package-wide". Having a
                "documentation" package that has the documentation for
                all installed applications. The way this would work
                (at least in theory) is:

                   * on instalation of this package
                         o finds all installed packages
                         o check for documentation
                         o download documentation

                   * on installation of new package(s)
                         o find newly installed packages
                         o download new documentation
                   * on removal of package
                         o remove install documentation

                Being done this way allows the user to choose weather
                documentation is installed by default and conserves
                disk space by only having the documentation for
                installed application.This would also eliminate the
                need to install a separate package (such as
                openshot-docs) for documentation, it would be added

            That's a reasonable amount of infrastructure development
            in order to support downloadable, translated docs with the
            primary goal of supporting the use case of a user who is
            not connected to the internet. Yet, it assumes they do
            have an internet connection at other times (in order to
            download the docs). While it is possible, I tend to think
            a more strategic direction is increasingly more web based
            help with increasingly less on-disk help.


                Jason Cook

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