developerWorks: Documenting Your Project Using the Eclipse Help System

“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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