There are a wide variety of possible browsers to use for displaying
the online HTML help available with IDLWAVE (starting with version
5.0). Since IDL v6.2, a single cross-platform HTML help browser, the
IDL Assistant is distributed with IDL. If this help browser is
available, it is the preferred choice, and the default. The variable
idlwave-help-use-assistant, enabled by default, controls
whether this help browser is used. If you use the IDL Assistant, the
tips here are not relevant.
Since IDLWAVE runs on a many different system types, a single browser
configuration is not possible, but choices abound. On many systems,
the default browser configured in
and hence inherited by default by
idlwave-help-browser-function, is Netscape. Unfortunately, the
HTML manuals decompiled from the original source contain formatting
structures which Netscape 4.x does not handle well, though they are
still readable. A much better choice is Mozilla, or one of the
Mozilla-derived browsers such as
Camino (MacOSX), or
platforms). Newer versions of Emacs provide a browser-function choice
browse-url-gnome-moz which uses the Gnome-configured browser.
Note that the HTML files decompiled from the help sources contain specific references to the ‘Symbol’ font, which by default is not permitted in normal encodings (it’s invalid, technically). Though it only impacts a few symbols, you can trick Mozilla-based browsers into recognizing ‘Symbol’ by following the directions here. With this fix in place, HTML help pages look almost identical to their PDF equivalents (yet can be bookmarked, browsed as history, searched, etc.).
Individual platform recommendations:
w3mbrowser and its associated
emacs-w3memacs mode provide in-buffer browsing with image display, and excellent speed and formatting. Both the Emacs mode and the browser itself must be downloaded separately. To use this browser, include
(setq idlwave-help-browser-function 'w3m-browse-url)
in your .emacs. Setting a few other nice
cuts down on screen clutter:
(setq w3m-use-tab nil w3m-use-header-line nil w3m-use-toolbar nil)
If you use a dedicated frame for help, you might want to add the following, to get consistent behavior with the q key:
;; Close my help window when w3m closes. (defadvice w3m-close-window (after idlwave-close activate) (if (boundp 'idlwave-help-frame) (idlwave-help-quit)))
Note that you can open the file in an external browser from within
w3m using M.