GnuCash at Open Help?

Ekaterina Gerasimova kittykat3756 at
Tue May 13 09:44:31 EDT 2014

On 7 May 2014 22:56, John Ralls <jralls at> wrote:
> On May 7, 2014, at 1:14 PM, Ekaterina Gerasimova <kittykat3756 at> wrote:
>> Hi,
>> I'm not sure if you're the right person to talk to about user help in
>> GnuCash (documentation, mailing lists and other forms), so I would
>> appreciate it if you could point me in the right direction if you're
>> not the right person.
>> I'm a long term GnuCash user and the current GNOME documentation team
>> lead, so I'm somewhat interested in how GnuCash manage their
>> documentation and user help.
>> For the last few years, the GNOME docs team have been attending Open
>> Help[1], and annual conference which is dedicated to documentation and
>> user help in the open source/Free software world. The conference
>> usually has many projects attending, such as Wikimedia and Debian, so
>> makes a really good forum for documentation related talk and
>> brainstorming.
>> I've managed to wrangle a few free passes for the conference, so I was
>> wondering if GnuCash would be interested in coming this year? There
>> are still presentation/panel slots available if you're interested in
>> talking about the project, and there are normally hackfest spaces
>> available for a few days after the conference too.
>> Looking forward to hearing from you
>> Kat
>> [1]
> Kat,
> Thanks for thinking of us. I'm forwarding this to our developer's list to bring it to the attention of the rest of the team. It's a standard mailman list with a low level of traffic, but I'll understand completely if you choose not to subscribe to carry on the discussion. I'll relay your replies if you like.

No problem, I've subscribed now.

> I'm not much of a documenter and any not able to attend a conference in mid-June. Perhaps someone else will pipe up.

Thanks for passing it on!

> As for how we handle it, we maintain a separate repository for it; the public mirror is at We're currently releasing a new set in sync with GnuCash releases even if there are no documentation changes since the previous release. Online and downloadable versions of the released docs are, as you probably know, at
> The docs themselves are in DocBook as is standard for Gnome. We've had several instances of potential contributors being scared off because there are no good and Free direct editors and XML is a bit intimidating. We've discussed a few alternatives but haven't been able to agree on any.

Interesting… GNOME has actually been actively moving from DocBook to
Mallard[1] since around 2010-2011. Mallard is also XML, but it was
created to be the ideal tool for task-oriented user help for software.
It was created by Shaun McCance, who was the GNOME docs team lead at
the time.

There were a number of reasons for the switch. It was partially done
as part of an effort to rewrite GNOME documentation under a CC-by-SA
3.0 license rather than the GFDL. The docs team thought that the
benefits to changing the license, namely being able to exchange
information relatively feely with Wikipedia (and other resources)
while reducing the licensing burden for reusing the docs elsewhere,
outweighed the workload. As you can imagine, relicensing is a
difficult and complex process, so with the UI changes taking place
around the GNOME 3 release, it was a perfect opportunity for the docs
team to write the help from scratch as updates would have pretty much
amounted to the same thing.

> Regards,
> John Ralls


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