Pierre Bernard

My little hideout on the net

Author Apple Help using RapidWeaver

Note: This is a repost of an entry originally published on my former blog. Meanwhile I have used the same template for HoudahGeo.

Recently I set out to rewrite the documentation for HoudahSpot. My ambition was to create true to the bone Apple Help.

First I went shopping for a tool to help me in this task. This query wasn't very fruitful.

Then I came across this article by Andy Matuschak. Finally I got Apple Help: how it works and how it is laid out. With the help of Andy's toolkit, I could actually have gotten started writing. But I wasn't going to settle on writing HTML by hand. I have put those times behind me.

Inspired by Andy's work, I have created a RapidWeaver template to look like what Apple includes with their applications. The template handles the vast majority of pages. Exceptions are the front page, the index and the search result pages.

From here on creating the HoudaSpot documentation was much like authoring a standard web site. While I could mostly use standard hyperlinks, there are a few occasions where I use Apple's proprietary tagging technique. I create the tags right from within RapidWeaver by abusing of the otherwise unused sidebar title field.

The front page and search result template had to be written in HTML. For the index page I settled on the SiteMap plug-in.

The fruits of my labor - both theme and site minus the index - are available for download. Go write some documentation.