[Python-Dev] Searching Python docs (Was: Python sidebar for Mozilla/Netscape)

Tim Peters tim.one@comcast.net
Sat, 06 Apr 2002 02:10:14 -0500

[Fred L. Drake, Jr.]
> ...
> The HTML Help browser is substantially better than browsing a bunch of
> HTML files, primarily because of the index and full text search.

Careful, there -- like all things Microsoft, there's HTML Help, and then
there's HTML Help.  It's quite possible Guido remembers a very early
version, which sucked rotten eggs thru a Tabasco-coated nostril straw.

Guido can see some screenshots of a modern version here:


And if that's interesting to him, he can download the whole PythonShelf by
going up a level, or just the std doc set for 2.2 (pythlp.chm).

One advantage is that the whole 2.2 doc set lives in a single 3MB file this
way.  As we distribute it, 2.2 docs comprised 1,016 files consuming well
over 8MB unpacked.

Irritations include that the set of control buttons aren't the same as in
your browser, vary across .chm files, and there's often no obvious way for
the user to change font size (wrt the pythlp.chm above, a persistent user
may figure out that they can close the file, change their font size in IE,
then reopen the .chm file).  Amazingly, there's no help available to the
user *about* HTML Help, and in particular there's not a clue about the power
hiding in the search facility (which *may* include blazing fast wildcards,
boolean expressions, and proximity search, depending how on clueless the
.chm author was).

> ...
> The only (substantial) reason I've not been building the HTML Help
> version is that I've not had the time to figure out how to do it.
> I don't think it's all that difficult, but I need to spend a
> little time with it and make sure I understand the tools.

No, the right way to proceed with an MS tool is to give up on understanding,
and just figure out which buttons you need to push in which order, by
observing over time which button sequences didn't work -- I have a Windows
box you can use, provided you can reboot it yourself <wink>.