Monday, June 30, 2008

Documentation goodies in 3.4

Just a quick update on the new Eclipse 3.4 documentation goodies that improve doc creation, including:

- TOC editor for quick and easy table of contents creation

- Context help editor for fast linking of page content with help context IDs. Man, has this made my life easier.

- Plug-in Spy for actual confirmation of help context IDs within a dialog or view.

That's not to say everything is perfect yet but things sure are looking better with each release.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Deploying our documentation to the web

Posted some future documentation plans on the Creating Carbide.c++ Developer Blog that concern the Eclipse Infocenter and Carbide documentation.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

EclipseCon 2008 summary

Just spent most of last week at EclipseCon 2008 for the first time. It was a great trip where I met a host of people and really had a chance and time to investigate some technologies I was interested in. Basically I had some ideas on how other Eclipse project technologies like BIRT and Mylyn could be merged into future releases of Carbide to help our users in their day-to-day development. I left with a few ideas churning in my noggin, and while they still need some investigation they do look promising.

One bit of technology I really became enamored with was Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA), an XML based method of organizing and mapping documentation so that it can easily be output in different ways to create exactly the right manual for the job. Will see how if goes converting a small Carbide manual into DITA format to see what happens very soon now.

A big thanx to Dr. Lee Anne Kowalski for explaining it all, both in her presentation and during lunch breaks at the User Assistance table. Her presentation on 10 common UA problems solved a couple of issues that I had observed in my Carbide docs and had yet to track down. Now I don't have too, yeah!

Finally got to meet some of the CDT team including Doug Schaefer, Chris Recoskie, and others, just to put a face to the names. Good to meet you all, hope to see you next year.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Plug-in Spy happiness (again)

Thought I'd try a small experiment with Plug-in Spy. While it works great from within the 3.4M5 release I use everyday to manage and test my doc plugins, would it also work with our standalone product? Even if its based on the 3.3 sources.

Copied the org.eclipse.pde.runtime plug-in to the Carbide\plugins folder and relaunched.

Pressed ALT+SHIFT+F1 and BAM! Works like a champ.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Help Improvements Keep Coming

With the release of 3.4 M5 there is now a Context Help editor to accompany the Table of Content editor previously released. Nice!

For one that works on a product's help material it's really great to see more support inside Eclipse for creating and managing help content. Using Dreamweaver is fine but there is no way to really do quality control without a lot of manual testing. Having an editor for the material decreases the number of mistakes that can creep into an edit, which means I can deliver the docs Carbide needs faster and with more accuracy than before. w00t!

And in conjunction with Plug-in Spy the creation, verification, and deployment of help has become much more robust. Still owe Chris Aniszczyk a few beers for adding Help Context IDs to Plug-in Spy which has made the "where'd the context ID break" game played here simply go away.

Maybe I can pay up at EclipseCon.