[NTG-context] What about dynamic documentation?

Jérôme Laurens jerome.laurens at u-bourgogne.fr
Tue Dec 6 14:19:53 CET 2005

Hi all,

Is is extremely useful for a newbie as I am to have access to the 
manuals electronically.
You just open the pdf and search to obtain what you need.

In general, you end up with a command that you have to copy from the 
pdf then paste to your source file.
Another solution is to use the text editor completion feature, which is 
available only once you know the correct command name, at least the 
What I am missing is a button in the pdf itself that would 
automagically insert the proper code in my source.

To be more concrete, here is what could be done (on Mac OS X at least).

0 - Define a data model.
1 - For a reasonnable set of commands, define dedicated GUIs panels.
2 - Write a dedicated browser

As there is a huge amount of "reasonnable" TeX and ConTeXt commands, it 
is -not- reasonnable to fine tune a dedicated GUI for each one.
But with some perl I think it would be possible to turn for example the 
Quick References Manuals into a set of xml files, each one dedicated to 
its own command. If these files are just HTML forms (modulo the proper 
style and automagic filter), we have the GUI for free using a web 
browser. The communication between the browser and the text editor 
could come from SUBMIT. At least a "copy/paste" phase would be enough.

I already have a custom web browser that can insert some text directly 
in a text editor (iTeXMac) It is based on Mac OS X WebKit.
Which means that I will incorporate this browser directly into iTM, but 
this not the question so far.

All this makes points 1 and 2 above acceptable IMHO.
The problems come from point 0.
I think a good thing would be to create a subsection of the context 
garden, or another wiki, gathering all the sources.
The seed would come from the actual documentation with automagic 
scripts and people would update at will.
Then people would be able to work on a local version using a web sucker.
We can imagine searching facilities as well

BTW, Sometimes it is necessary to have some output to understand the 
real effect of a command. This should enter into consideration.

How does it sound?

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