I would like to show you two recent improvements in local help system of LibreOffice.
Indentation and syntax highlighting of Basic code examples
Basic code examples were hard to read in LibreOffice help, because code blocks were not indented. Also, people got used to syntax highlighting in editors.
By LibreOffice 4.0 I made the code examples indented with some scripts and a bit of manual work. I also tweaked help-to-wiki conversion script, so online WikiHelp of LibreOffice 4.0 will feature syntax highlighting of Basic code examples.
For the local help content, my idea was to re-use SyntaxHighlighter class from svtools in help compiler, so we could add the colors build-time, without modifying the source and create work for translators. Dávid Vastag, a university student, who worked with Novell Hungary as a trainee, helped me to implement this feature in help compiler. The following screenshots show how an example Basic code is rendered in different versions of LibreOffice help.
Size reduction of local help
When I studied help XML files, I noticed that many of the tags and attributes are not needed run-time. Some of them are even completely obsolete, and are not needed at all. However a mass clean-up in the source would not be desirable, it can cause extra work for translators for example. My idea was to apply a stylesheet to each file in the help compilation phase. I created compact.xsl, which removes comments, whitespace, and unnecessary tags and attributes. The size of en-US Windows MSI help pack decreased from 7.83 MB to 5.14 MB – 34% less!