electronic brain surgery since 2001

arCHMage Magic for Offline Docs

In one of my last blog posts I mentioned that I'd like to carry some offline documentation on my usb stick. Today I spent some time to figure out how to do that best.

Many (but not all) projects offer downloadable docs in HTML format. But these are a bit cumbersome to access when you're looking for something specific. Being able to just enter a keyword and get the right page would be much more convenient. PDF would give me a full text search but is a pain to work with.

After a bit of research, I found the solution in a Microsoft format: CHM – the Windows help file format. The table of contents included in such a file should be enough to quickly find the right topic and is available in a standardized format – ideal for some JavaScript filtering.

All that was needed was a way to convert the CHM back to HTML and access the TOC. Luckily a tool for that job already exists in the form of arCHMage. Unfortunately it provides no TOC filter mechanism with it's default HTML template. So I wrote my own template.

The Modern arCHMage Template creates a simple, two-frame layout with a collapsible TOC on the left. An input box at the top allows for quick filtering of the available topics (without the need to open each and every branch).

If there was a way to access the CHM keyword and fulltext search indexes via JavaScript only it would be even better. But for me it's good enough in the current form and superior to a “normal” HTML dump of the docs.

Here are the CHMs I downloaded and converted for my stick:

docs, chm, archmage, template