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developerWorks: Documenting Your Project Using the Eclipse Help System

Feb 10, 2004, 06:00 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Arthur Barr)

"The Eclipse Platform, which provides a very powerful IDE, includes its own help system based on an XML table-of-contents referencing HTML files. What isn't immediately obvious is that you don't have to write Eclipse plug-ins to use it. Any project can use a cut-down version of the platform to provide professional, easy-to-use, and searchable documentation. This documentation system has been successfully used on a number of IBM projects, including those as large as the WebSphere Application Server.

"When you access the Eclipse help system (through Help > Help Contents), you are actually starting up an embedded Apache Tomcat server. A window based on a Web browser is then opened pointing to the correct page on that server. Documentation is provided with a collapsible index on the left side, and HTML documentation on the right, and can at anytime be searched (thanks to the Apache Lucene search engine). Since Tomcat is used, you are not limited to HTML; for example, you can use JSPs to make your documentation change dynamically (though we will discuss later a possible reason to avoid doing this)..."

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