Open Perl IDE - User Manual
Version 0.9.9

6 Help System

This section explains the concepts of the highly configurable Open Perl IDE help system.

6.1 Help Configuration

The complete help data consists of several main help topics. Each main help topic has a descriptive title, is associated with a base directory and
  • its "contents relevant data" is defined as set of all files and directories located under the base directory, and
  • its "keyword index relevant data" is defined as set of all *.htm and *.html files located under the base directory.

These main help topics can be configured on the "Preferences | Help" page as follows:
  • A new help topic can be added by choosing "Add Help Location" from the listview popup menu and then selecting a base directory for the new help topic.
  • A selected help topic can be deleted by choosing "Delete help location" from the listview popup menu.
  • The priority of each topic can be changed by dragging it to a new position.
  • Each line consists of several fields, each of these can be changed by a double click on it.
    • The "Base Directory" field defines the location of the help files.
    • The "Contents" field controls, if the "contents relevant data" is used.
    • The "Keyword Index" field controls, if the "keyword index relevant data" is used.
For example, in the screenshot below, the complete Contents contains the documentations of all main topics. The Keyword Index is built only from the ActivePerl topic.

Figure: Use the popup menu to setup the main help topics
Help Configuration

6.2 Help windows: Contents, Index and Viewer

You can open help windows by choosing Contents or Index from the Help Menu, by choosing "Help windows" from the Windows menu or by pressing F1 from within an editor window.

Hint: Pressing the ESC-Key in a Help window always switches the focus back to the previous control.

All help windows are dockable windows. However, the following screenshot shows the Help Contents window in floating state as a stand alone window.

Figure: Help Contents
Help Contents

In the contents tree, Shell Links are automatically resolved to the source document. So it is possible to create an independent contents organization containing shortcuts to the original files.

The next screenshot shows a typical help viewer, if the Perl command "print" has been typed into an editor window and after that F1 has been pressed.

Figure: Help Index and Viewer
Help Index and Viewer

The keyword index is automatically rebuilt, if the help configuration has been changed.

Figure: Keyword index generation
Index Rebuild

6.3 Help System Internals

The keyword index generation consists of several steps:

For each main topic
  • the base directory and its sub-directories are scanned and all *.htm and *.html files are written to a list which is saved to a file.

  • Then the keyword generation script takes this file, parses each file in the list, extracts the keywords and writes it to an index file.
Finally, after creating index files for all relevant topics, an offset file is created to perform a fast access to all index files.

See the Open Perl IDE Software Design Specification for further information.

Open Perl IDE is copyright © 2001 by Jürgen Güntherodt.