The Frustrations of Joe-User

Imagine that you are Joe-User.  You like an application but can see a lack that
should be easy to sort out.  What do you do about it?Man scratching head

In this case I was looking at Tellico and wanted to create a new report template.  The obvious place to start is the Manual – yes?  Yes, indeed, there is a good deal of information about field types etc. – so I’ll print out that chapter.  No I won’t – you can’t print out from the Manual.

I’m told that PDFs exist in KDE Help Center, so I go there.  I can’t see Tellico listed, so I put it into the search box – and get the Manual.  Back to square 1.

I’m told that if I click on the package in the left pane I can request the PDF which would allow me to print the chapter – I’d never have found that.  Wait – which package? Every package has to be listed until you find the right one, and
Tellico is in the last one. Have you given up yet?

Someone goes to a good deal of trouble to make PDFs of the manuals – and we
hide them where users can’t find them.  This is simply not good enough.  If
there is no easy way to do it in KDE Help Center, there is something, infintely
more accessible, that can be done.  Every application has its Manual in the
Help menu.  Why can’t we have a link to the PDF there as well?

Written by annew in: KDE | Tags:


  • anonymity is great

    Don’t clutter the Help menu with several links to essentially the same thing: the manual (it is worse if there are two different manuals for the same application: which is the correct one? which is the most elaborated one? which is the most recent one?). It would be much better if KHelpCenter has a “Print” action and an “Export to PDF” action in the file menu which would print the PDF version of the manual (of course the PDF version should have the exact same contents as the manual visible in KHelpCenter).

    BTW I don’t understand what you mean with “click on the package in the left pane”. You mean the left pane of KHelpCenter? Where do I click then? I see no such thing as “Packages”.

    Comment | March 19, 2012
  • annew

    I started from the assumption that adding print to the docbook manual must be difficult or it would have already been done. However, I’ve been told today that it shouldn’t be difficult at all – it merely needs someone with time and inclination to do it, so if someone wants to do a huge service to users this would be an ideal project. Maybe it’s even suitable for inclusion in GSoC or Season of KDE.

    Comment | March 19, 2012
  • Emil Sedgh has pdf’s of all KDE applications.
    I dont think you get them locally, though.

    Also, you can also use konqueror and browse help://tellico (or help://konqueror ) and print the page.

    I agree with you, though. We have everything. Its just that users could not find them. Its clearly an issue on our side.

    Comment | March 19, 2012
  • annew

    I didn’t think of Konqueror – and wasn’t aware of the help:// kioslave (and I’ve been using KDE for more than 10 years). It does seem a shame to hide away such work. While printing from the docbook is now enabled (see my reply to Kevin Koffler) there are still people who will like to download specific manuals for offline use, and the PDF does have some flexibility that docbook lacks.

    Comment | March 20, 2012
  • Why would you want to PRINT the manual? I suspect the reason printing is not more prominently featured is that the developers grew up in a digital native environment and wouldn’t even THINK of printing out the manual to paper rather than reading it on the screen, with clickable links and with the possibility of reading the documentation and using the application at the same time. The screen also allows using a comfortably large font size without consuming a prohibitive amount of paper (and in fact, it doesn’t consume any paper at all, which is good for the environment).

    Now I’m not advocating going the GNOME way and telling our users what they can or cannot do, but just explaining (my understanding of) why nobody thought of making the printing option more prominent.

    Comment | March 19, 2012
  • annew

    In my wishlist/bug report I explained why. If you want to contribute you need to have a deeper understanding of how things are constructed, and the manual does sometimes give that kind of information. While you are learning something, a printout of specific pages can be very helpful – and that is what I wanted to achieve.

    Apparently the code required to enable printing was already done, but when it originated it didn’t work (I don’t know the reason) so it was disabled, and forgotten. Albert Astals Cid enabled the code, tested it, and has committed it for release in 4.8.2.

    Comment | March 20, 2012
  • annew

    Update – it is now possible to print out chapters of the manual if you read from In 4.8.2 that will also be possible in shipped documentation, thanks to Albert Astals Cid. Once more, the wonders of KDE demonstrated!

    Comment | March 20, 2012

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