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I have to equip a desktop Java application with a simple help system with a standalone off-line help viewer. The help viewer should have basic functionality, that one usually expects to find in a help viewer - namely:

  • TOC
  • search
  • index

I have never encountered such task before and had no notion about help systems for Java. Having taken a look out I have found that there are, in fact, only three options:

The first is pretty heavy and is not very easy to handle (I've spent a whole day to make it work with my app and yet there are troubles when it comes to exporting it into a runnable jar, suitable for both 32x and 64x platforms).

The usage of the second is restricted with the OTN license, which requires to buy a license before passing the application to my customers, that is unacceptable for me (it's not a commercial project).

The third is outdated, is not developed any more, and (they say) has a rather clumsy look, and also is not too easy to manage.

It seems like I have to choose between the cumbersome and superfluous Eclipse help, on one hand, and outdated JavaHelp, on the other hand.

Is that opinion, which has formed at the first glance at the situation, correct? Have I missed some other options?

  • If you don't need a searchable help system you could simply open the browser with the HTML version of your manual. – a_horse_with_no_name May 19 '16 at 8:01
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Obviously, there are no other options. Finally I have attached the JavaHelp to my app. It was not so easy, since in my SWT application I had to listen to JavaHelp events fired in its AWT thread and vice versa, and some AWT event-handling code I have added to the JavaHelp (namely, a new "Choose font" action and its handling, that was missing in the original JavaHelp) had to use the SWT FontDialog. The original old-fashioned look of the JavaHelp can be somewhat improved by using non-default plafs and other icons.

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