Documentation/Help

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The LibreOffice Help underwent a radical change since verison 6.1 and is now displayed in the system browser.

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Warning:
The HelpAuthoring Extension is now considered DEPRECATED. Avoid using it to edit help pages as it can break the Help XML.


Introduction to LibreOffice Help editing

LibreOffice Help pages are text pages in XML (Extensive Markup Language). Here is a summary to help you in contributing to the Help project:

My current skills Simple tasks (typos, grammar, linguistics) Medium tasks (update with respect to current version, menus reordering, better formatting) High volume (new pages on features, add images or multimedia, many files involved...).
I have a gerrit account, I know XHP Edit the XHP file directly in gerrit Can be hard to edit in gerrit, avoid. Even more hard, avoid.
I cloned the Help submodule, I can test locally, I have development skills and I know XHP Edit the XHP file locally, make, test and submit a patch Same as simple task Same as simple task
None of the above, I'm not skilled in development, I have no skills in XML, but I'm good at documenting. Send mail to documentation list. Add as much info as possible, even better if you add the page to fix. Open an bug in bugzilla to report defect. Add as much info as possible, even better if you add the page to fix. Open a bug in bugzilla to report defect/enhancement. Attach files with proposed contents. Add as much info as possible, even better if you add the page to fix.

Documentation for Help editing

A minimal knowledge on XML or even HTML is necessary. The XML for LibreOffice Help (also known as XHP) is not hard to catch if you know XML basic concepts. It will be useful for small changes until you get more familiar with the do's and don'ts of the LibreOffice Help files.

Documentation for the understanding, authoring and editing of LibreOffice Help can be found in online version. These wiki pages are under revision and enhancement and will follow the development of LibreOffice Help resources.

The most important wiki page for XHP is page 2: XHP Reference.

The original PDF book is available: Understanding, Authoring and Editing OpenOffice.org HELP (PDF). Note that this book is now outdated.

Editing LibreOffice Help Files directly in gerrit

A complete page on the subject is available here

Editing LibreOffice Help file in your local computer

Sources of the LibreOffice Help with git

The sources of the LibreOffice Help are in git. If you have gerrit already configured, then you can do:

git clone ssh://logerrit/help

Or alternatively you need to do:

git clone git://gerrit.libreoffice.org/help

once. From then on, you work with the git repository the normal way:

  • To get the newest strings, do git pull -r
  • To send your changes for approval, push to gerrit. Please see later in this page how to do it.

Read How to setup gerrit the first time, and How to send a patch for review. If you have trouble setting up, please contact the developers at #libreoffice-dev connect via webchat channel on freenode, they will be glad to help you! th

Sources of the Help as packed archive

Admittedly, git is the safest way to have the latest help source code. But if git is not a solution for you, you can download the Help source file as a tarball and uncompress it in your working directory.

To download the latest help source code look for the latest version in this page

http://download.documentfoundation.org/libreoffice/src/X.Y.Z/ where X, Y and Z must be replaced by the most recent version. For example, as of today (May 24th, 2017) X.Y.Z is 5.4.0 .

Editing the Help

A short manual describing how to author the help content is available here.

How to find the file to work on

When you have the sources of the help, and string you want to change (like to change the "wide variety of options" on https://help.libreoffice.org/Writer/Writer_Features#Designing_and_Structuring), do:

cd help
git grep "wide variety of options"

This will return you:

source/text/swriter/main0503.xhp:<paragraph role="paragraph" id="par_id3147239" xml-lang="en-US" l10n="U" oldref="10">$[officename] offers ...

which means this text is in source/text/swriter/main0503.xhp .

How to change it

Gnome-dialog-warning.svg

Warning:
The HelpAuthoring extension is DEPRECATED.


Using the ordinary text-based editor

Practically any text editor is able to open the file .xhp (for example, it is Kate in KDE, gedit in Gnome, or Notepad2 in Windows. You may want to use vim or any professional xml-editor).

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Note:
The text-based editor must support files in UTF-8.

  1. Open a Help file in the menu File ▸ Open or by using Open with... function from a file manager (for example in KDE, right-click on the file and select in popup menu Open with... ▸ Kate).
  2. For the reason that files may be very big and have a large number of xml-tags, you can use the find by file (usually Edit ▸ Find... or Ctrl+F).
  3. Make the necessary changes (if you are not confident with xml-tags of help files, make sure you have not touched them).
  4. Save the file.

This method is good when we need to make minor changes without touching the xml-tags, for example, to correct a typing error.

Understanding LibreOffice Help file structure

Th LibreOffice Help file is composed of several mandatory parts. Look at this guided example.

How to verify changes

The easy way

You can use Firefox or Chrome browsers to render your Help page, with some limitations.

Open the page File ▸ Open file... and navigate to help/source/index.html . The Help default page opens.

on the URL bar of the browser , add after index.html ?page=smodule/path/to/page.xhp

Example: file:///home/olivier/tmp/help/source/index.html?page=swriter/main0000.xhp

The help page main0000.xhp is displayed


The hard way: build LibreOffice

If you make changes or create a new page for Help, it is good idea to check how it will look in the interface. You must build the Help of LibreOffice.

For the first time you need to build LibreOffice. In the future, this can be done from time to time to update the version. More information about the build of LibreOffice can be found on these pages: for Linux, for Windows, and for macOS.

Use the option --with-help for autogen.sh when you build LibreOffice:

./autogen.sh --with-help

It will download and build files into the folder helpcontent2. In the future, to check Help file changes, they can be placed (following the relative paths) into helpcontent2 and built with help command make in it. Files for run can be found in source_folder_of_Libreoffice/instdir/program/ folder. Open LibreOffice by running the file soffice or swriter and press F1 for open Help.

Note: The LibreOffice build takes 3 to 8 hours, depending on the capacity of your computer. Help build takes about a minute.

How to send it back for approval (via gerrit)

Gerrit is a tool that allows easy review of changes that go into LibreOffice. Follow the instructions on How to send a patch for review, the Help uses the same workflow. The exact steps are in the article on submodules.

If you aren't able to get gerrit working and are getting an error

fatal: remote error: access denied or repository not exported: /help

use the following command

git config remote.origin.pushurl ssh://logerrit/help

if you then get a gerrit error about not having a Change-ID, then run this command in the help root folder

cd .git/hooks && ln -s ../../.git-hooks/* ./

If that command does not help, follow the advice in the error "Hint: To automatically insert Change-Id, install the hook:".

See also