Ubuntu Help is a project to develop on-screen help good enough to appear by default when someone chooses "Help" from Ubuntu's top-level menus. The help should be aimed at people who already have Ubuntu installed, and need answers fast. They may be complete beginners, businesspeople on a deadline, or harried sysadmins. They may not even have a working Internet connection. The system should integrate help from gnome.org, ubuntu.com, openoffice.org, and anywhere else, because Aunt Tillie doesn't care about those distinctions.
Discuss this page at: ["/talk"]
Things that need doing by someone expert with DocBook
These are in order of importance, but any of them will help.
- Hide yelp's table of contents frame.
Remove the section numbers from tables of contents and <xref>s. This is an unordered set of help pages, not a textbook.
- List subsections after the main text of sections, not before.
- Make all text unjustified. A help window is too narrow for justified text.
Give all <itemizedlist>s and <orderedlist>s a pale grey background.
- Remove the previous/next links at the bottom of each page. Replace them with a link to the "Getting more help" section, with a different background color.
How to hack the help
sudo bash -c "echo deb http://bazaar.canonical.com/releases/debs ./ >> /etc/apt/sources.list" sudo aptitude update; sudo aptitude install bazaar mkdir ~/archives # or choose a different directory if you like baz make-archive firstname.lastname@example.org ~/email@example.com baz get http://firstname.lastname@example.org/help--0 ubuntu-help cd ubuntu-help; baz branch email@example.com/help--0
Publishing your archive on the Supermirror so others can see it
If you don't have one already, [https://launchpad.ubuntu.com/+login get a Launchpad account], and register your SSH key with Launchpad (click on your name after logging in, then click "SSH Keys"). Then:
baz make-archive -m firstname.lastname@example.org sftp://email@example.com@firstname.lastname@example.org
Committing and mirroring your changes
baz commit baz archive-mirror
Merging someone else's changes into your own branch
baz merge email@example.com/archive--name
License for the help
To let extracts from the help be embedded into GPLed software for greater effectiveness (requiring a GPL-compatible license), to let the help be used by Debian, and to let it be incorporated into future BY-SA-licensed books etc, Ubuntu Help is licensed with the following text:
This document is Copyright 2004 its contributors as defined in the section titled AUTHORS. This document is released under the terms of the GNU General Public License, version 2 or later <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html>, or under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, version 2.0 or later <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/>, at the option of any party receiving it.
People [http://helpware.net/longhorn/review1b.htm#TOC_Index_Search don't read help tables of contents] if they can search instead. So when search is implemented in the help viewer, the main table of contents should be simplified to four or five things that people can glance at while entering their search terms. Until then, it should contain no more than about a dozen subtopics. Local help is faster than the Web, so you can get away with having less on each page, and thereby avoid scrolling. Design for compact layout, so the help viewer can go alongside the software you're wanting help on. Brevity, brevity, brevity.