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From "Dennis E. Hamilton" <>
Subject RE: INFO: OpenOffice help authoring
Date Fri, 26 Apr 2013 18:07:33 GMT
@Rob, Thanks for the additional information on DITA.  I'll look into the DITA-OT project.

Another promising platform for Help Authoring might be EPUB3.  

Any place where there are many arrows behind the work and a sustained community would be a
great help.

 - Dennis

-----Original Message-----
From: Rob Weir [] 
Sent: Friday, April 26, 2013 10:02
To:; <>
Subject: Re: INFO: OpenOffice help authoring

On Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 12:34 PM, Dennis E. Hamilton <> wrote:
[ ... ]
> DANGER, DANGER: Home brew help systems tend to never be finished, the content tends to
never be full migrated and consistently maintained.  It would be useful to use something that
is as decoupled as possible from the product builds while providing some well-defined bridge
from contextual-help triggers.  A system with established endurance and open-source compatibility
would be ideal.  Perhaps it is time to look at DITA and well-established help-authoring aids.
 Important touch-points will be multi-lingual authoring, accessibility, and modularity of

I think that when Sun made their help system for OOo there was no good
alternative around.  So if they wanted a cross-platform solution it
had to be a homebrew.  But, as you note, that has costs.  No doubt if
we were doing something from scratch we'd use something like DITA,
well-supported by tools.  The advantage of DITA is we get the content
into one standard format, and then using the open source DITA Open
Toolkit (under Apache License) we can generate help in many useful
formats, such as:

Eclipse Help
Java Help
Eclipse Content
Word RTF


DITA also makes it easier to "slice & dice" the content, so we can
maximize reuse.  For example, I bet a list of spreadsheet functions
and their parameters shows up in our help and our user guides.  But
this is duplicate content in two different systems.  With DITA you
could unify this content in one place, but still generate subsets of
it into help format or PDF for download.


[ ... ]

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