Adding Collateral Help FIles

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What is a Collateral File?

Collateral files

LibreOffice new Help system enabled the already existing <object> element that allows to open objects in the HTML help page. Objects can be embedded or external videos, audio, and also files with specific MIME types.

From LibreOffice 6.1 and beyond, the help system now has support for collateral files to help user in understanding the textual description of the current page.

Im-jabber.svg

Note:
Collateral files are not available in the offline help package.

What the collateral files are NOT

The collateral files are not intended to replace or turn obsolete the textual description of a feature. For example, a supporting file on Calc's trigonometric functions will not replace the help page on trigonometric function. Nor a collateral file on Pivot tables will do.

The collateral file also should not be alternative of a encyclopedic text on a feature. There is no point to use Calculus textbook to explain the COS trigonometric function. The Help system expect user to source its knowledge in appropriate textbooks and supply simple examples for quick remind or working function syntax.

How do I submit a new collateral file to LibreOffice Help?

Your help is welcome, of course. If you want to supply a new collateral help file to a specific help page, please open a ticket in our bugzilla system and attach your file. Here is the process:

  1. Make sure you have all the credentials to open a bug in our bugzilla. If not, please follow the instructions in this wiki page.
  2. Open a new bug with the following settings:
  • Component: Documentation
  • Version: unspecified
  • Summary: Enter a summary. For example, [COLLATERAL_FILES] File for help page on feature XYZ
  • Description: describe the purpose of the collateral file and give as much details as you can. If you know the help page where the file belongs, then it is even better. You can supply the help page by indicating the link of the page in the help online. For example, [https://help.libreoffice.org/6.1/en-US/text/scalc/01/04060101.html]
  1. Attachments: Attach your file to the bugzilla
  2. IMPORTANT: enter 117613 to the Blocks: field (this will link your contribution to the metabug).
  3. Submit your bug report.

That's all.

Rules for Collateral File Creation

"KISS" : Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Well, sort of.

The Help system must help the user. Sounds obvious but there is no point to insert a complicated collateral file when the intention is to explain simple concept. For example, a Chart collateral file must not have a data series with hundreds of data points, nor must display fancy coloring of the chart elements.

Try to create a file with the minimal text inside. Sometimes, it will not be possible, but some trick will reduce the workload for translation:

  1. Keep file small
  2. Unless otherwise justified, always provide Open Document Formats (ISO-IEC 26300), such as *.odt, *.ods, *.odp, *.odg, *.odf, *.odb.
  3. In Calc functions, you can use the =FORMULA(<ref>) to get the localized name of the function.
  4. Also in Calc, if a function belongs to a category of functions, consider one single file with many examples (see 1 above). For example, database functions DSUM, DCOUNT, DMAX, etc... can belong to one collateral file only.
  5. Do not create files with macros. Even with safe macros, the security warnings can bring troubles to the user.
  6. Do not use complicated styling, unless absolutely necessary
  7. Avoid files with external references, external links (that may create issues with corporate firewalls, etc...).
  8. There is no point in providing many files on the same subject. Improve the existing one.

Subjects for adding collateral files

Calc

  • Database functions DSUM, DMAX, DCOUNT, etc... The help pages already have a textual example, that can go to a collateral file.
  • Statistical functions (provide a small but significant data sample with usage of statistical functions)
  • Financial functions
  • Goal seek
  • Solver
  • Multiple operations
  • Scenarios
  • (more)

Writer Files

  • Indexes,
  • TOC
  • using page style (landscape/portrait)
  • Style
  • (more)

Impress Files

  • Slide transitions
  • Objects animations
  • (more)

Draw Files

  • Layers
  • Objects
  • dimension lines
  • Lighting objects
  • Distribution
  • (more)

Base Files

  • Sample database
  • (more)

Math Files

  • Sample equations
  • (more)

Translation

Some countries require the supply of help text and components of the software to be in (one of) the country native (official) language. This requires the translation of the collateral file, when it applies.

The default and fall-back language is en-US.

Im-jabber.svg

Note:
The source files are located in the tickets listed below.

Calc Files

  • file imtrigon.ods for complex trigonometric functions: tdf#117579
  • file trigon.ods for trigonometric functions: tdf#117592
  • file pivot.ods pivot tables and charts: tdf#117593

Writer Files

Impress Files

Draw Files

Base Files

Math Files

Uploading files to master branch

Upload of files will be carried trough gerrit.