One of the projects the DocBook community sponsored for the 2010 Google Summer of Code was DocBook WebHelp. The goal was to develop a process for generating output that resembled WebHelp from DocBook. It resulted in a process that generated HTML output that uses jQuery to create a collapsible TOC and Apache Lucene to create a full text search index. It is slick.
The FuseSource documentation had been using HTML frames to accomplish something similar since we were part of IONA. While it looked good and got the job done, it was not a great solution. Some people complained that the frames didn't work in their browsers. We got complaints that it was hard to bookmark pages or to get links to send in e-mail. There were also complaints that the documentation looked very 1999.
So, a few months ago I started looking at what it would take to modify the FuseSource HTML publication process to use the DocBook WebHelp tools. It took a little doing because we have a pretty hefty customization layer, but all in all it was pretty easy. The guys on the DocBook mailing list were very helpful.
We started rolling out the new templates with the Fuse IDE 2.0 documentation . In the coming months the template will be rolled out across all of the FuseSource documentation.
The new WebHelp based HTML output is pretty slick. We added Disqus powered comment forms as well. They are not perfect, but incremental change is the name of the game. As we get feedback from customers, we will work to make them perfect.