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theNerd
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Joined: 01 Mar 2005
Posts: 277

PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 2:03 am   

Documentation
 
Zugg,

There are many times that I am not on a computer that has access to the Internet (my laptop, for example) and I would love an off-line manual. I came accross this freeware application called "SBookBuiler 10" that will compile web pages, images, etc. into an single exe with a browsable interface with a print preview, etc. You can get it here: http://jansfreeware.com (incidently, it's written in Delphi.) It is quick and easy and you could create a new ebook for the documentation each time you update it. It would make me very happy Very Happy

-Steven
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Zugg
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Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 5:13 am   
 
It's more complex than that. The documentation on this web site is not stored in HTML pages. It is stored in a MySQL database, and the markup language actually uses the forum BBcode rather than HTML directly. Because it's in a database, it shouldn't be hard to eventually create a standalone application that uses a copy of the database records, so that's the direction that I'm going. I felt that doing the database-driven knowledge base would actually give me more options in the future than using Windows Help files, or even HTML or CHM files.

So yes, this will improve over time. Right now, as you have probably seen, the documentation is just a skeleton with a lot of missing useful information. I've talked about this before, but since you are more involved now I'll repeat myself: While I understand the importance of documentation, I am only one person and every time I am writing documentation I'm not writing any code. And right now I have a real deadline to get an initial version of eMobius ready in time for the Shareware conference in Denver this July (which means the first version needs to be released for testing in late May or so).

This deadline is really important to me, so anything that takes significant time away from eMobius is going to get a lower priority. That doesn't mean I won't be documenting. Documenting often helps me iron out design issues early in development. But there will remain a lot of gaps and holes in the documentation for a while, and you certainly won't see a lot of effort into doing offline documentation.

Actually, it's a good idea for another zApp application. Since zApp has such good database support it is probably possible to suck down the documentation from the MySQL database and populate a local Sqlite database and then write a documentation viewer program. That's probably what I'll eventually do.

Chiara will eventually help me with eMobius documentation, but there isn't much she can do to help with zApp since it's a much more technical subject and she isn't a programmer. And nobody else really knows enough about zApp yet to help much, not to mention that zApp is in such flux that documenting anything too much would be a waste of time.

As I was replacing the various controls with the DevExpress versions I was glad that I hadn't filled in any of the details of the more obscure properties or methods that are online. As you probably noticed, the previous property list was autogenerated from the source code and there are a *lot* of changes to those properties now. I decided early in this conversion that while I'd maintain basic functional compatibility, that zApp was still too early to worry much about true backwards compatibility. So there have been *lots* of changes and now I can focus on documenting the new stuff instead.
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theNerd
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Joined: 01 Mar 2005
Posts: 277

PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 2:30 pm   
 
[*slaps self on forehead*] I don't know why I didn't think about that (it being in a database.) I basically wrote that post yesterday after switching between my laptop in the living room and my main computer so I could check out some zApp properties. For the most part the documentation is skeletal but I was trying to experiment to figure out how each thing worked.

I am also considering writing a basic freeware editor for zApp. Intended only to be temporary until zApp Pro gets completed which will probably be awhile away. It's something I could really use and I am sure others would appreciate it. (The editor I write won't be in zApp code, though.) I don't mind writing this. I am hoping it will speed up my development in zApp a little and at this point I would rather you focus on polishing zApp code and getting eMobius done (which I am really, really, looking forward to.) I am going to do a basic design doc and then whip the application together. If you are interested I'll send you a copy when I am done so you can let others download it. I got two little applications that I am finishing up first and then I'll get at the editor.
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