Falling in love with VoodooPad again

A few years ago I used “VoodooPad Lite”:www.flyingmeat.com/voodoopad… extensively. Every note, to-do list, and feature description went into it. At some point I migrated away from VoodooPad to a combination of text files and “Ta-da list”:www.tadalist.com/, perhaps fearing I would have too much data in a weird format that would be difficult to get at later.

But I was always on the lookout for a problem that would best be solved with VoodooPad again. With our localized help files for “Bookshelf 4.1”:www.vitalsource.com/, I tried for most of a day to use VoodooPad to manage the help. I even experimented with Gus’s dead “project for remote wiki editing”:www.flyingmeat.com/fs/flysta… thinking I would write my own web-based help-specific wiki system and plug “Boomerang”:www.flyingmeat.com/fs/flysta… into it. In the end it was too difficult to force the existing static help files into VoodooPad.

Fast-forward to a few nights ago. “Wii Transfer”:www.riverfold.com/software/… 1.5 has no Apple Help at all, and it needs some. A perfect opportunity for VoodooPad, and I’m happy to report that the solution works beautifully. I knew I could make it work because clearly VoodooPad’s own help files are managed with VoodooPad. After a bit of experimentation I bought a new VoodooPad license and all was well in the world.

Here’s how it works:

  • I manage the help content in VoodooPad, creating pages for different help sections and generally just typing away and getting stuff done.</p>
  • The HTML export template lives inside the VoodooPad document itself, so everything is in one place.

  • Also inside the VoodooPad document is a post-processing script (written in Ruby) that looks for a comment in index.html and inserts the appropriate AppleTitle and AppleIcon meta tags that Apple Help needs to get its work done.

The only part I haven't finished yet is that the script should also send the files off to Help Indexer to update the search index. I coded that part but it doesn't work yet -- there is something different about how VoodooPad executes these scripts that prevents other applications from launching. (Maybe. I'll sort it out eventually.) You can "watch a screencast of the process here":[www.manton.org/screencas...](http://www.manton.org/screencasts/2007/voodoopad.mov.) I add a new page, enter some filler text, export the VoodooPad document, then re-run the Xcode project and view the changes in Apple Help. Fun!

Manton Reece @manton
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