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Yelp HTML generation (#177167)


[This was CC'd to Christian Marillat <marillat@debian.org> but I typed
'debain' instead of 'debian' into the to field.]

As far as I understand the Gnome help system is supposed to work like

- packages ship the documentation only in XML format
- as conversion to HTML/whatever is slow, the XML gets converted to the
appropriate formats on package installation.
- yelp displays the pregenerated HTML, and only generates it 'on the
fly' when it is not available/outdated.

The problem is that yelp stores the generated HTML in the same directory
as the XML data is, i.e. in /usr/doc.  This is of course the wrong place
for generated data, which should go into /var/cache.

Because of that the HTML pregeneration is disabled in Debian, and this
causes yelp to be close to unusable (I experienced waiting times of up
to 1 minute), since the HTML needs to be generated *every time*.

Christian Marillat (the Debian yelp maintainer) has tagged the bug
#177167 as 'wontfix' and forwarded it to [0]; as far as I can see,
neither him nor the Gnome developers seem to be very keen to fix the

[0] http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=103777

As I am very annoyed by the bug, I am looking into fixing it.  But I
need some information about the whole gnome help generation process.

- what kind of documents are currenty generated from the XML sources? 
HTML? PDF? PS? Others?  Are they/should they all be cached?

- what kind of structure should /var/cache/yelp have?

- how should the cache be updated? by root running yelp-pregenerate, or
by yelp 'on first request'?  If yelp must be able to write to the cache,
how should it do so?  Via setuid or via group permissions (like the man

- has any of this already been done?  Is somebody working on it?


Aaron Isotton

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