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

Mark Smith mcs at pearlcrescent.com
Wed May 28 14:57:17 UTC 2014

On 5/27/14 10:47 PM, Matt Pagan wrote:
> ...
> 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.

There are APIs inside Firefox for opening local files and "revealing" 
directories/folders.  It should be fairly easy to implement this option.

> 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.

I agree this would be the most user friendly option.  It will also 
require the most implementation effort.  Basically, we need to build a 
XUL+HTML (or XUL+PDF) help viewer that does not allow users to "escape" 
and start accessing the network.

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

Option 4 would probably meet the needs of many users (as would option 
5).  If they are downloading our software from torproject.org they will 
probably expect the manual to be available online as well.  But for some 
users, bundling the manual with the browser is essential for safety.

> 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.
> ...

The same comments that I made regarding option 4 apply to this one: 
good to do, but it won't solve the entire problem.  Providing a 
downloadable PDF (option 4) gives people more flexibility but maybe the 
presentation of the manual is better at https://tb-manual.torproject.org/.

Mark Smith
Pearl Crescent, LLC

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