2014-06-20

Qt Creator - Help is on the way

Visual Studio starting from version 2002 to 2008 had a poor help experience. Hitting F1 in Visual Studio resulted soon in me cursing while looking at the help window's progress bar. Unlike Visual Studio 6 which had a very responsive help system.

I remember looking with Process Explorer to see what's going under the hood and it was very surprising to see the C# compiler running...

To overcome this waiting I would open up a web browser and search online. This habit stuck. The web search engine become my best friend.

Visual Studio 2010 has fixed the help system (some local web server technology if I remember correctly), but I haven't spent much time with it so that I would go back at pressing F1 for help.

For the past three years I've been using Qt Creator and I was happy with my work flow: code editing, debugging with Qt Creator and online web search for help.

Therefore I found myself hacking a project using Qt and Qt Creator and searching online after QBrush, QPainter documentation.

If you search online after QBrush you will most probably (at this moment in time using google) get this: qt-project.org/doc/qt-4.8/qbrush.html I would then click on the link and change it to qt-project.org/doc/qt-5.3/qbrush.html. This became annoying after a while.

Now I know that Qt Creator already comes with the most up to date Qt documentation (depending of course if you have the most up to date Qt installed).

But I would have not realized this if my work colleague Miika Järvinen wouldn't have mentioned a small project of his.

His small project involved having the awesome cppreference.com offline C++ documentation available in Qt Creator. Now cppreference has a qch file compiled, but it only shows the main index page when using F1 or searching with "?". If you navigate to the help panel you get an annoying endless "waiting" cursor.

Miika noticed that the qch file was broken due to invalid paths and he compiled a fixed version, which you can get it from here. The endless "waiting" cursor is still present though.

Below you have an example how to use the awesome Qt Creator help system with the equally awesome offline documentation from cppreference.com:

Qt Creator 3.1 on Kubuntu 14.04
Now I could be "helped" by Qt Creator and not by the online web search!

Imagine the productivity kick you can get if you have the browser window closed, or code offline for that matter :)
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