Expanding tables and other elements in Mallard

I’m at the GNOME documentation hackfest in Brno, Czech Republic, and we’ve been updating help for GNOME platform and applications in advance of GNOME 3.4.

As part of the event, we’ve been reviewing our use of the Mallard syntax, making sure that we’re getting the most out of some of the new features. One newer feature in Mallard allows users to expand or hide portions of the help as needed. This helps users can more easily scan through possible topics, and to open the ones that are relevant to them. It also has the added benefit of saving space on the screen. This feature is in an experimental namespace for now, but we’re please enough with the results, and it is likely to be moved into the primary schema shortly. It will be in limited use in our help releases for the 3.4 cycle.

Here’s a brief example of what this looks like in action (note: you might need to view the page directly rather than through a feed aggregator if you want to see the video):

Also, here’s a portion of the code that makes it work. All that’s required is a the "ui:expanded" attribute on the appropriate element. It accepts values of "yes" and "no."

It’s possible to use this attribute on any element that contains a title, so you have the ability to use it on tables (as I’ve done here), lists, steps, or even entire sections. Thus far we’ve only used them on tables, and the style rules have yet to be ironed out.

The hackfest has been good thus far, but we still have much to do over the next couple of days. I am focusing on some updates to GNOME user docs, as well as writing new docs for Seahorse Encryption Manager, Rhythmbox, and am doing some GNOME docs team wiki work. Florian Nadge and Petr Kovar of Red Hat have been more than gracious as hosts, and the food on Brno is plenty meaty. Plus, there is cheap beer.

Of course the food and drink is even less expensive when Shaun McCance of Syllogist.net sponsors a dinner for us (thanks, Shaun!). Many thanks, as well, go to the GNOME Foundation for their sponsorship of our travel and accommodations.