This has to exist! I just can't find it through the Googling process...

Basically, I am looking for an application that helps manage HTML-based manuals, specifications, etc. (i.e., HTML "eBooks"), with the following functionalities:

  1. "Templates" that provide common desktop publishing properties, like page #, headers and footers, consistent styles and layout across all pages, etc.
  2. Ability to generate Table of Contents (with links) based on all pages in the document
  3. WYSIWYG editing (including links to other pages within the document, images, etc.)

This is close to something like MS Frontpage or KompoZer (formerly Nvu), but focused on creating HTML-based documentation as opposed to web sites.

2 answers


This solution might be more sophisticated than you are looking for.

Docbook is a kind of XML which outputs into HTML, PDF and epub. It includes TOCs and indexing; some of the XML editors (like Oxygen XML Author) let you have some wysiwig view. Docbook itself is relatively easy, but the customizations are fairly hard. However, Oxygen XML Author contains some out-of-the-box transformations that work fairly well. (A freeware alternative is Serna XML editor, with a wysiwig editor of sorts). Docbook lets you output chunked HTML as well as single page HTML. I am not especially recommending it for you because of the learning curve (it took me a year to get to know it), but a solution does exist.

To explain something. My docbook project contains index.xml, first.xml, second.xml . The index.xml uses xincludes to summon first.xml and second.xml . On the index.xml you will apply an xsl file (usually docbook.xsl) to generate output.

Don't get me wrong; this solution is really geeky.

Another solution would be to generate your source in MS Word or OpenOffice. If used correctly, they can output somewhat clean code. The trick is to create a single .docx/OO file and use sections that will later be converted into elements in the TOC. I'm not sure if they will output chunked html content though.

Another solution would be to use an actual help authoring tool. and output as HTML help. That's about 1000$. Docbook can do a lot of the same things though.

finally, doing it by hand isn't a total copout. Use one css for all your files, hand-code your TOC won't cost a lot of time or money. The main drawback to that is maintenance over time.

Answered over 7 years ago by Robert Nagle
  • Thanks for the reply! I'm somewhat familiar with DocBook (and have looked at DITA) and I've messed around with XSL, so this is definitely the front-runner. I had hoped to find an open-source solution, but pointing me to "Help Authoring Tools" at least gives me commercial options that I did not know existed. It's a shame, though, that they all seem focused on creating "compiled html" (.chm) and are all Windows-centric (I use a Mac, mostly). Also, the specific requirements of this tool include the ability to integrate with - a framework that allows HTML-based software specifications to be tested directly (which is what the "perfect tool" would be able to manage effectively), so it would need to be pretty flexible in how the HTML pages are defined (and usable to a non-HTML-experienced analyst writing the specs). Dallas Vaughan over 7 years ago

It occured to me that some of the other ebook publishing tools might do what you need. But only if your primary goal is to output ebook files. Try looking through these applications. I've tried out Sigil, Atlantis, eScape. I've heard good things about Jutoh too.

Answered over 7 years ago by Robert Nagle