GENPLOT and RUMP Documentation


Welcome to the HTML based documentation for GENPLOT and RUMP. It is hoped that this new documentation format will improve our ability to keep the documentation somewhat up to date with the rapidly changing code, as well as provide a more powerful source of information for the end user. The advent of HTML browsers on a wide variety of machine architectures (UNIX, OS/2, Windoze) has dramatically reduced the difficulty of producing comprehensive on-line documentation. The hard-copy manual used to serve this purpose, but a separate on-line documentation database was also needed for quick reference. Either one or the other was inevitably behind and recently the activation barrier to revising the entire 300+ page manual to version 2.0 was so formidable as to be unlikely.

Requirements:

The documentation, including the document you see now, uses frames to simultaneously display a table of contents and a specific documentation section. The pages themselves are developed as pure text (nice EMACS like editor) under OS/2 and tested on the Netscape 2.0 browser for OS/2. The OS/2 WebExplorer does not support frames and therefore cannot display this documentation at all (even this text). A browser from the Evil Empire (TM) will probably work (3.0 is said to handle frames) but this has not been tested by CGS.

HTML Sources:

The temporary address for accessing the latest development documentation is http://www.mse.cornell.edu/cgs. More likely though, you will be accessing the documentation from a local copy on your hard disk. A compressed copy of the latest documentation will be available by FTP from various sources. Once unpacked into the documentation sub-directory (normally /cgs/doc), it is accessed by a URL of the form file:///g:/cgs/doc/index.htm (on a PC).

Documentation commentary

Some form of HTML based documentation will likely replace the hard copy manual entirely, assuming that it continues to prove as useful as initial impressions suggest. The addition of hyperlinks, combined with the ability to incorporate essentially unlimited text and graphics, leaves only three problem areas; portability (can't carry the manual to the beach on Saturday), the lack of the comfort which arises from the "feel" of real paper, and the difficulty of working with equations (which better be resolved soon). However, it is really the users who have the final say. If you disagree, let me know. This is my first experiment in fully electronic publishing.

The layout of the HTML manual very much parallels the old hard copy manual. A table of contents remains always on the left and divides the manual into block segments; each segment is further expanded when it is opened providing at least one further level of indexing.

Each "page" of the document corresponds roughly to a chapter of the manual; chapters are internally marked to provide rapid access to specific commands. This relatively large granularity was chosen specifically to mimic a book. I often find myself wanting to "browse" a manual looking for a related command or just to see what is possible with a program. This granularity provides this ability by keeping related commands on a single HTML document - no need to go back and forth between half a dozen different pages.

There is one major disadvantage to this approach. Current bookmarking in Netscape Navigator does not handle frames well and only the major divisions can be physically marked. However, since no command is more than two levels down, this hopefully will not be a major frustration.


Last modified: November 3, 1996
Michael O. Thompson (mot1@cornell.edu)