Frhed integration

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Re: Frhed integration

Postby denisbradford » Mon Jul 13, 2009 1:33 pm

Since we're getting ready to bundle Frhed with WinMerge 2.14, maybe this is a good time to ask: what sort of integration you have in mind for WinMerge/Frhed help?

IMO, it's usually not a good idea to link between different help systems, unless they're managed together. Linking to another installed manual in the Help menu is fine, but linking between topics in the two manuals is risky - they can change or go away without your knowledge. Unless you have a pretty tight integration, consider just referring to topic titles instead, without active links.

But I see that you've converted Frhed help to DocBook. Does that mean that you maintain Frhed help - can you elaborate here or via email? If there's a way to build both manuals together, we might set up a DocBook sitemap and use olinks (instead of conventional links) to cross-reference between the manuals. At build time, DocBook automatically updates changed olinks between the two manuals. It's just one idea - again, I'm not sure what level of integration you have in mind.
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Re: Frhed integration

Postby kimmov » Mon Jul 13, 2009 2:33 pm

Frhed is independent project from WinMerge. It has own release schedule, own translations, manual etc. If Frhed is installed WinMerge can use the editing component as hex editor. This integration requires latest Frhed stable release (1.6.0 or later) and recent WinMerge experimental release.

In code and functional level integration works currently just fine. Help is area I haven't thought much yet.

The grand idea is to have Frhed as own independent program users install if they want hex editor in general or use it with WinMerge. We won't bundle Frhed installer to WinMerge installer. Yes, hex editing support needs some effort from the user but there really isn't other good way to do this with our resources.

Frhed translations and documentation are developed in Frhed project and installed by Frhed installer. When Frhed is launched inside WinMerge (to compare/edit binary files) we probably should open Frhed help from Frhed installation. But I'm not sure about this. Can it be confusing to open totally different help file than in normal file compare?

Perhaps it would be enough (as you suggested) to add Frhed help menu item to WinMerge menu. At least as a first step. The fact is many (=most?) users won't bother installing Frhed. And I think even interest to compare binary files means user is advanced user and should be able to overcome some edges there are in the integration. If you don't know about hex number system etc then the hex editing looks like mystery. Current Frhed help explains some basics but it requires reasonable amount of knowledge to edit successfully binary files.
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Re: Frhed integration

Postby denisbradford » Mon Jul 13, 2009 7:27 pm

kimmov wrote:When Frhed is launched inside WinMerge (to compare/edit binary files) we probably should open Frhed help from Frhed installation. But I'm not sure about this. Can it be confusing to open totally different help file than in normal file compare?

It's not a common thing to do in my experience. The exception is big IDEs like VS and Eclipse, where users expect to see help from different apps. It works seamlessly in the IDEs because they can build their menus and Help TOCs dynamically by detecting the apps' plugins.

Since WM and Fred are built and installed independently I think it's asking for trouble to integrate the two helps in any meaningful way, at least from a doc point of view. As a user I have no problem launching Frhed from WinMerge, and then opening help in Frhed if I want to. An extra step, maybe, but not confusing! Within WM, we could still reference Fred Help just with text, like "for more information about hex formats, see the Frhed Help".
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Re: Frhed integration

Postby kimmov » Wed Jul 15, 2009 10:43 am

Agreed. We should not cause confusion for user who is seeking for help.

I checked it and pressing F1 in hex edit in WinMerge tries to open Frhed help. Which is a bug since there is no such help in WinMerge installation.

Perhaps we can add one short chapter about hex editing and Frhed to WinMerge manual and open it? It doesn't need to go into details, just tell that Frhed is used as binary file editor and more help is available in Frhed's own manual...
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Re: Frhed integration

Postby denisbradford » Thu Jul 16, 2009 12:31 am

Sure, I can submit a patch that adds a with a minimal topic to the manual - I'll try on Friday, I'm away from my Windows machine.

kimmov wrote:Agreed. We should not cause confusion for user who is seeking for help.

I checked it and pressing F1 in hex edit in WinMerge tries to open Frhed help. Which is a bug since there is no such help in WinMerge installation.

Perhaps we can add one short chapter about hex editing and Frhed to WinMerge manual and open it? It doesn't need to go into details, just tell that Frhed is used as binary file editor and more help is available in Frhed's own manual...
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Re: Frhed integration

Postby denisbradford » Fri Jul 17, 2009 1:25 pm

Starting this topic, am not sure of some basic info:

* When you compare two binary files does Frhelp window open, or do the binary files open in the File Compare window just like text files?

* I was assuming that we could provide links to the top of the Frhed CHM in our topics, or in the WH Help menu. It sounds like you don't plan to install Frhed help at all. If so, how does user access Frhed help?

kimmov wrote:Agreed. We should not cause confusion for user who is seeking for help.

I checked it and pressing F1 in hex edit in WinMerge tries to open Frhed help. Which is a bug since there is no such help in WinMerge installation.

Perhaps we can add one short chapter about hex editing and Frhed to WinMerge manual and open it? It doesn't need to go into details, just tell that Frhed is used as binary file editor and more help is available in Frhed's own manual...
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Re: Frhed integration

Postby denisbradford » Mon Aug 17, 2009 2:45 pm

Added Compare_bin.xml, stub topic for binary file compare, in r6952 on trunk. If this is the wrong branch, I can back out...

The Manual
This is a big item. Currently we don't ship any kind of help for Frhed with WinMerge. In what format and how we ship the manual? Frhed project generates HTML help file from single HTML file. Basically we should use that same help. But then the Frhed stand alone program's help contains things that aren't there when we embed the editor. Which can cause quite a confusion (is it Frhed's menu or WinMerge's menu etc).


Denis: Reading this again, I think my objections to integrated help are misplaced: if most of the Frhed manual is true for both environments, I suggest conditionalizing the manual using DocBook profiling: just add a condition attribute with values like "wm" and "frhed" to any content that is not shared. You can conditionalize any element: a phrase, a paragraph, or a whole article. Then specify the condition value you want when you build the manual: any content with a different condition value is excluded from the generated manual.

I've used profilng, it's easy to implement. I haven't seen the frhed doc source or build scripts, but would be happy to help modify it.
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