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Documentation Software

Posted on 2004-09-11
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Last Modified: 2011-10-03
Hello,

I am looking for some really easy to install and use documentation software for the web using PHP. I want to add help docs to an application, but would like to be able to just add simple titles and content and have it indexed automatically for our users. I have checked out Sourceforge and Hotscripts without much luck.

Has anyone had experience with documentation / knowledge base software?

I would ideally prefer links to software you have actually used and recommend, since I have searched around plenty and found nothing that jumps out at me.

Many thanks,

Bodog.
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Question by:cracky
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LVL 26

Expert Comment

by:ushastry
ID: 12033865
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LVL 14

Author Comment

by:cracky
ID: 12033908
Thanks uhastry, but I am looking for end user help documentation, not coding documentation. Both phpdoc and PHPDocumentor are used for programmers to parse PHP comments as class / method descriptions etc. The documentation I require is for end users.
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LVL 18

Expert Comment

by:armoghan
ID: 12041530
I think the problem is not related to PHP directly
Why dont you try HTMLhelp from microsoft to create static Help pages
and attach it with Php application
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LVL 14

Author Comment

by:cracky
ID: 12041634
armoghan > I think the problem is not related to PHP directly

In fact, it is.

I am looking for a PHP documentation feature / software that I can use to create help docs or a knowledge base with a minimum of effort. I want to be able to add / edit / remove help topics dynamically without having to export a static set of pages. Besides, I have successfully worked the last year without touching a single Microsoft product and I intend to keep it that way. It's like junk food, once you wean yourself off it, you don't even feel like it anymore.
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LVL 18

Expert Comment

by:armoghan
ID: 12041720
you can use a content management system for this purpose
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Assisted Solution

by:hernst42
hernst42 earned 100 total points
ID: 12082531
Have you looked at http://www.hotscripts.com/PHP/Scripts_and_Programs/FAQ_and_Knowledgebase/index.html There are a lot of scripts in PHP listed one might b able to do what you want.
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Accepted Solution

by:
techtonik earned 400 total points
ID: 12083261
If you know how to write in DocBook, you can use PHP documentation build system. =)
In short:
 - your documentation sources are in XML format (DocBook elements and rules);
 - you can validate your document for structure errors;
 - you use templates to convert XML into something readable (i.e. HTML or text);
 - templates are in XSL language;
 - templates can be common DocBook templates or your custom modified DocBook.

Learning curve:
 - learn about XML;
 - learn about DTD (Document Type Definition) - standard for particular XML content;
 - understand validation toolchain: XML + DTD = error log
 - understand transformations toolchain: XML + XSL = HTML or whatever..
 - (optional) understand XSL language.
 - read some tutorial on DocBook to really put it together =)
   http://www.google.com/search?q=docbook+tutorial&sourceid=opera&num=0&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8
   http://wiki.docbook.org/topic/DocBookTutorials

Drawbacks:
 - DocBook is rather big standard, though it isn't complex.

You can fetch example from PHP CVS:
http://cvs.php.net/livedocs/
Page of interest:
http://wiki.phpdoc.info/LiveDocs
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LVL 14

Author Comment

by:cracky
ID: 12083545
I have read a little about DocBook and forgot about it entirely. Looks like a good solution for a scalable help system. Exactly what I need.

Thanks also to hernst for finding me some scripts I missed.

techtonik, could you possibly show me some examples of DocBook documentation systems with a more graphical representation? Of course, since it uses XSLT, presenting DocBook in a prettier way isn't hard. I couldn't see anyone presenting in anything but the most basic HTML. It would be great if you could point me to some well-presented documentation examples.

Cheers.
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LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:techtonik
ID: 12086125
All PHP documentation is rendered from DocBook sources (with some minor tweaks), but unfortunately with DSSSL (non-XSL) template toolchain. FreeBSD handbook is also an example of DSSSL output http://www.freebsd.org/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/fdp-primer/.

As for XSL examples - you can look at xCHM edition, which has been made with XSL. http://cvs.php.net/phpdoc/htmlhelp. The reason why DSSSL is used instead of XSL is mostly of historical reasons. XSL tools for a long time were not enough polished to produce usable output, so during this time there were a lot of tweaks made to DSSSL templates. So one have to do a lot with XSL to make output the same. Needless to say, that many just followed "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" principle.

So, there are not too much ready to use examples, because XSL toolchain is rather young, but not because it is very hard to customise DocBook. Starting point here is DocBook XSL stylesheets and basic HTML is a base function of them. After you've generated your first HTML files - you can customise DocBook templates, insert CSS styles and other stuff in output. Good resource about customising is here: (http://www.dpawson.co.uk/docbook/styling/custom.html) and, of course, http://wiki.docbook.org/topic/DocBookXslStylesheets.

Hope you are not dissapointed. =)  XSL is the future of DocBook and is actively developed. The recent version of XSL DocBook templates released just some days ago and is available on http://sourceforge.net/projects/docbook/
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LVL 14

Author Comment

by:cracky
ID: 12089384
Thanks techtonik. Exactly what I wanted.

Cheers.
0
 
LVL 8

Expert Comment

by:AJAY CHADHA
ID: 24727358
Have you had a look at PHPKB knowledgebase software from http://www.knowledgebase-script.com
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Expert Comment

by:achitaley
ID: 24727375
Hello,

We use mediawiki for our documentation. We have installed mediawiki with FCKEditor extension for easier input (WYSIWYG) and used the Page Names to link up the Help Page with the context form.

Through this, we get a good Collaborative Document Maintenance Platform and also, a linked Help Documentation.
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Expert Comment

by:AJAY CHADHA
ID: 24733534
PHPKB uses InnovaEditor which makes the WYSIWYG editing compatible on all browsers such as Google Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox etc. plus it is backed by 12 months of free private technical support.
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