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OpenOffice Online Help


This section contains resources and information regarding the Online Help for 2.0 and higher versions.

Beginning with release 2.0 the online help for underwent considerable changes to allow for easier collaboration of the community in creating, maintaining, and improving the online help files.

Below you find some high level information about the new online help. You can find detailed in-depth information as well as instructions on how to work with the new help files in Understanding and Authoring OpenOffice 2.0 Online Help, (PDF version).

What has changed?

Help File Format
Before release 2.0: the help files were available in an unspecified, intermediate XML format based on the XML format.
Now: the help files are migrated to a well-defined, easy and concise XML DTD which was discussed on and is available from
The new extension for all help files is .xhp
Help File Sources
Before release 2.0: the nature of the help building process prevented the help source files to be part of the product CVS repository.
Now: all help source XML files are part of the product CVS and available in the helpcontent2 module.
Building Help
Before release 2.0: the binary online help files were built using a complicated process inside Sun.
Now: the help building process is part of the building process of the application and in the hand of the release engineering. Controlled by makefiles, online help can be built by using standard build and make commands in the cvs module.
Help Images and Icons Handling
Before release 2.0: the help file set contained screen shots and application icons in its own archive making it necessary to duplicate each icon used in the application. This also made it necessary to compile a separate help set for differently branded products (like StarOffice and
Now: all application icons that are used in the help are taken from the central icon repository that is also accessed by the application itself to fetch the icons. In this way, the help always uses the same icons as the application avoiding inconsistencies.
All images that are specific to the online help, like screen shots used in some help files, are now in the helpimg folder of the res CVS module and are accessed by the help in the same way as the icons.
Help Authoring
Before release 2.0: authoring or editing the help files was virtually impossible for the community since the source files were not available.
Now: there is an import and export filter for the help file format for Also, there is a set of macros that allows authoring and editing of online help files right from within
Help Localization
Before release 2.0: localization followed non-standard process that involved many manual steps to extract and reintegrate content.
Now: the localization uses the same process as the UI localization. All of this is conducted by the release engineering. For more information about the UI/Help localization process, please contact the corresponding release engineer Ivo Hinkelmann (

Why was it changed?

All of these changes were introduced for several reasons:

Where can I find more information?

The Understanding and Authoring OpenOffice 2.0 Online Help document.


Work on the help content is still in progress.

Online Help Documents
Understanding and Authoring
OpenOffice 2.0 Online Help
This area gives a detailed overview about the new Online Help format of 2.0.
From the Table Of Contents:
  • How Help Works
    • Help Ingredients
    • Installed Help Files
    • Application Help Calls
    • Structure of the CVS Help Module
    • Building the Help Set
  • Help File XML format Basics
    • Basic Document Structure
    • Using Variables
    • Paragraph Roles
    • Using Bookmarks
    • Switching Content
    • Embedding Content
    • Images and Icons
    • Localization Information
  • Help File XML Reference
    • Common Attributes
    • Elements
  • Authoring Help With
    • Setting Up the Environment
    • Editing Help Files - Basics
    • Character Formatting
    • Working With the Help Files
    • Sections and Paragraphs
    • Tables
    • Lists
    • Working with Images
    • Embedding Content
    • Linking
    • Meta Data
    • Bookmarks
    • Switching Content
    • Miscellaneous
    • Troubleshooting
  • Appendix
    • XML Help DTD
  • Glossary
Migration Script (no longer needed) A simple Perl script that helps you migrating existing localizations in 1.x format to 2.0 format.
The tar.gz archive consists of
  • The Perl script
  • A transformation style sheet
  • The English help sources in 1.x format
  • The initial English help sources in 2.0 format
From the README:
		What you need:
 Perl with XML::LibXML, XML::LibXSLT
 The transformation style sheet migrate.xsl
 The English help sources in 1.x format
 The English help sources in the initial 2.0 format
 The localized help sources in 2.0 format

 How to proceed:
 1. Copy the localized help file tree in 1.x format
    into the 1.x directory
 2. Delete the following obsolete directories:
    - handbuch
    - setupguide
    - screen
 3. Rename all "common" directories to "shared"
 4. Start the script
 5. Check the output files in the 2.0 directory

 What you will get:
 A directory with the localized help files in 2.0 format.
 But please note:
 The files only contain elements that could be 
 migrated and that need localization. So you will end
 up with _incomplete_ help files. You will need to merge
 those file with the English 2.0 files. After merging
 you should have mixed language help files containing
 English and localized content as well as the structural
 elements that do not need localization 

 This script is only meant to simplify the business of

 Use at your own risk.
 Check the resulting files.
 Feel free to tamper with this.
 Don't ask for support.

Questions may go to Apache OpenOffice Documentation mailing list.

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