[tbb-dev] Current thoughts on tb-manual presentation

Matt Pagan matt at pagan.io
Wed May 28 02:47:34 UTC 2014

Hello tbb-devs. Here are a few divergent thoughts on presenting the Tor
Browser manual in a sensible manner for Tor Browser users. Please
provide feedback regarding whether any of these seem reasonable/feasible.


0) Include a pdf file in an easy to locate place in the Tor Browser

Con: As discussed a couble IRC meetings ago, the major obstacle here is
that most Mac users do not know how to turn their Tor Browser app into a
directory, and so they would never see it. Not so good.

1) Replace the help desk email label in tor-launcher with a button,
which, when clicked, tells the user's system to open a local pdf file
with the system's default pdf viewer.

A con to this approach is that I don't know if it is even possible at
all; that is, I'm not sure if JS is capable of detecting what the
default application for a filetype is or, if it's not, I'm not sure it's
capable of just "opening a file" that needs to be opened with a
specific, local application.

2) The same as 1) but ship evince with Tor Browser and onClick, open a
pdf file with something like an `evince tb-manual.pdf` command.

A con to this approach would be that this might not work at all for
various non-Gnome GNU/Linux users. Also the Tor Browser is that much bigger.

3) Replace the help desk email label in tor-launcher with a button,
which, when clicked, opens a XUL window (like window.open) that contains
nothing but an iFrame which loads the the local index.html file (from
which the user can then navigate to all the other html pages because of
the manual's design)

con: ??.

This seems like a pretty possible thing to do right now. Is it? I could
not actually get my implementation of this idea even close to working,
but I also introduced a lot of new moving parts at once, and I'm still
getting the hang of debugging. This seems like it would be the most
user-friendly workflow of these various approaches.

4) Make the Tor Browser manual prominently available for download on the
Tor Browser download page as a pdf.

Now users have two things to verify to make sure they didn't just
download malware. Who's really going to do that for a pdf file, anyway?
I think most users are quite used to a download being one thing, and not
two (or three). I'm not sure it's reasonable to expect that all users
will download a separate manual. This is not a great workflow. Users
could just open the pdf file in the browser they used to download Tor
Browser, though.

5) Direct users to https://tb-manual.torproject.org/, which weasel just
set up. This could either be done from the download page or a non-wired
link in tor-launcher.

cons: I think fewer users would actually see the manual this way, and
this distribution method would probably be less effective at reducing
load on the help desk for similar reasons to 4). We've had the the Short
User Manual on our web infrastructure for some time and most users do
not know it exists. Although maybe that was an advertising problem?


I'm not a huge fan of 4) or 5), as they don't actually solve the problem
of distributing a manual with Tor Browser. I've included them for
completeness, nonetheless.

Also there are probably ways of getting the tor browser manual in the
hands of users that I'm not thinking of. Any other ideas? Do you like
any of the above ideas?

The relevant ticket here is

Matt Pagan
PGP: 0xE9284418E360583C

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