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SEUL: seul-dev-help


this group will work on the help system for seul.  things that this group
will be doing:
 1. writing a help browser, and specs for other apps to use for
    invoking/controlling it.
 2. writing specs for the help document format.
 3. writing some actual help docs.
    this group may also acquire specialists in writing documentation, who
    help write docs for other groups' stuff. 

this group has a leader!  ken duck <twoducks@globalserve.net>.
he is already working on some prototypes for this stuff which are coming
along nicely, and he has a good idea of what we want out of the help system.
here's some general info about the idea we are trying to get working for
the help browser:

following the successful trend of documents toward hypertext-based systems,
the help format will probably be based on an extended html format.
the browser itself will have an interface allowing it to be invoked and
controlled by another app, will implement assorted navigation features,
and will support a plugin-model at the core level, such that the help browser
is essentially a very small kernel, with html, seul help, and other viewing
modules pluggable.  this means that the browser can be reused as a web browser
if a good web/html module is written, in addition to being used for reading
seul help text, and can also be augmented with modules to do things like
display help-text in other formats used by 3rd party app developers.

something to note, from recent seul-project discussions on docs:  with a
foo2html converter, various helptext formats could be displayed on the fly
converted to html, given just an html module that knows all the tags used by
foo2html.  or to do things really right, we should include modules in the help
browser to support things like manpage and info format.

of course, we are looking into existing browser and html-widget projects to
try and reuse as much code as we can.  the functions for browser controls and
other specifics have also already been given some thought.  for more info,
get in touch with me/twoducks, and watch for developments in the appropriate
places, as soon as we get per-group stuff set up (mailing lists, file storage,
web space, etc).

i'm going to stop there for now.
just a quick note on interactions with other stuff:
o /any/ other applications could wish to use the help browser - the interface
  for other apps to use it should be simple and powerful enough to let it work
  well regardless of what is calling it.
o one major dependency this group has is on the seul gui toolkit.  to prevent
  this from hindering progress, the help group should just plow ahead for now,
  using whatever toolkit makes prototyping easiest.  (at present, twoducks is
  using tcl/tk, just because he already knew it, so it works out well for
  the proto.)  just make sure the browser does not depend vitally on
  particular quirks of the toolkit in use, and this will work.  and as usual,
  keeping the code well-abstracted will make plugging in new gui routines
  later relatively easy.

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