Reviews

Review: Veredus

Veredus 1.0
$899
Rascal Software
Seattle, Washington
(206) 624-7300
www.rascalsoftware.com

Veredus is a new single-source documentation builder. That is to say, you create a project in Veredus, and depending on how you build it, you get out HTML help, JavaHelp, Microsoft Help 2.0, Oracle Help, PDF, PostScript, WinHelp, or Veredus's own WebHelp format. You create projects by adding books and topics and links and scripts to a treeview; a simple editor lets you add content to topics. Projects can also include external files as global resources that you can drag and drop into the appropriate topics.

You can also add plenty of documentation-specific content such as notes, tips, and warnings, a glossary and index, or popup topics. The editor can handle text, HTML, RTF, or MIF imports, and it's pretty easy to use. While it doesn't offer all the bells and whistles of a complete word processor, it's got plenty of power to get the job done.

Veredus offers XML standards compliance as one of its main features. All of your source files are stored as XML (in an on-disk hierarchy that mimics their hierarchy in the project). All of the output is created by applying XSL and CSS transformations to the source XML. You can get at the XML with any tool that can use XML (and there are supplied XSD files describing all of the XML schemas). And of course you can tweak the output by editing the XSL files. If you've already invested in coming up the XML standards learning curve, this may be attractive, though I'm not sure how many documentation writers have gone down that road yet.

Another nifty feature here is the ability to create API documentation projects that are linked to java files or type libraries. Veredus will import the classes. methods, and so on from the type library to build the outline of your documentation, and then you only need to fill in the details. If the type library changes, you can update the API structure without losing your existing annotations.

I built some small projects with no major hurdles and very little reference to Veredus's own help file. Adding content was easy, as was defining build targets and actually building the output (though in the case of HTML Help the output isn't final; you'll need to run it through the HTML Help Compiler yourself). If you'd like to explore the tool further, you can download a 30-day trial from the Rascal Software site.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.

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