The GuideDog project

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Latest News

GotDotNet workspace now available

Anybody who wishes to participate in any way should get themeslves over to the new GotDotNet Workspace for GuideDog. When you apply to join, please state who you are, and what you are preparing to do.

Any help - apart from comments telling us to write it in another language - is welcome.

GuideDog prototype now ready for download!

The prototype (3.9 Mb) is now ready for download. This is very rough and ready, and doesn't work very well at the moment. If I'd had more time and less urgent domestic issues we would have been a lot further ahead than we are. You will need

  • Windows 98, 2000 or XP
  • Internet Explorer 6.0 SP1
  • the .NET Framework 1.1 Redistributable

Download it [NB: Clicking this link will trigger off a download so please do not press unless you wish are sure you wish to proceed] here at your own risk!.

Please leave any comments below. Note the following:

  • Use the File|Download menu to download an article number (A123456 format). You will need to set up any proxy settings in Tools|Options
  • use Edit|Copy GuideML to Clipboard to copy the GuideML for the entry suitable for pasting into a new DNA article
  • There are only two skins: Alabaster and Classic Goo. There will be more, but not just yet. Use the Skins menu to change appearance.

GuideDog nearly finished!

GuideDog is now very close to completion. There are a few things left to do on it:

  • Find & Replace
  • Entity handling
  • Bulletproofing
  • Testing & fixing bugs
  • Write an installer package

I need all the testers I can get. If you want to help, you will need:

  • Windows 98, 2000, NT4 or XP
  • IE 6
  • The .NET Framework Redistributable 1.1
  • A reasonably fast connection (to download the above components if you don't have them to hand).

This is pre-release software. As such it is liable to be buggy and unstable, but it is unlikely to do any damage to your machine (the Framework will see to that).

I hope you like the end result. This entire entry was dowloaded and edited via GuideDog. Uploading still has to be done 'manually.


GuideDog.NET Prototype now working!

Before you all delete your copies of Notepad, don't get too excited. This is a pre-alpha-release prototype, but it shows the basic underlying principles of GuideDog working using the .NET platform and COM Interop. It is slow.

Watch this space for further developments


You're probably wondering what the hell I've been playing at over the last few months. Where is this wondrous piece of software? Or is it all just 'vapourware'?

The answers to these questions are

  • Looking after ill family members
  • Awaiting the arrival of IE 7.0
  • No

The first piece of news is good news. We have proved that the principles are essentially sound. It is possible to import a GuideML entry, edit it in IE and export it again as GuideML. Jonny and me have shown this to be true.

I have simply not had the time to learn C++ to the degree where I would feel confident in producing an editor programme. So, I am waiting for the opportunity to produce one in C# or VB.NET. This is totally contingent upon IE 7.0 delivering at some point in the near future with a much better degree of .NET functionality that currently offered by IE 6.0.

This doesn't mean that we can't produce something. The first delivery phase will therefore be a very basic editor with much of the fancy functionality left out. Footnotes will be handled in a very rudimentary fashion. There will be no cut-and-paste or reference handling. I am starting work upon this phase right now. I will keep you all informed.


Well, the functional spec has been available for a good few months now and I've had bugger-all feedback, bad or otherwise, so I can only assume that, for the first time in my life, I've done something perfect, straight-off. (This view might be a tad optimistic.)

Technology-wise, I know this will offend a few people1 but we are definitely producing the first version using IE. The alternatives simply won't do what we want them to do. Whether it is IE 6.0 or the forthcoming IE 7.0 remains to be seen. I am currently learning Visual C++ specifically to produce this product. By the time I am halfway competent in this fiendishly-complex programming tool, IE.NET will probably be on the market. This means we will be able to use VB.NET or C# to program the editor, which will be a damn sight easier, believe me. Mind you, looking at how long it took to produce IE 6.0, and the fact that I'm a very quick learner, it could go either way.

16/12/02 - Requirements/Functional Specification Phase now finished!

Sorry it's taken so long, but I've been so busy with other things. You can now view the baselined functional specification. Please read this carefully: if there is some functionality I have left out, I need to know about it now. Also, please ignore typos and spelling errors: I'll get these sorted when I have a chance.

Merry Xmas and special thanks to all who have helped with this project so far!

21/09/02: Help needed: C++ programmer with ATL/COM experience!

We are experiencing severe problems with some of the technology. If anyone knows anything about Visual C++, ATL and/or COM, and has the time and inclination to help, then please get in contact.

Otherwise it will mean writing the whole thing in C# and a 21Mb download for any prospective user

The User Manual/Functional Specification is now being worked on. We will circulate this for wider comment around the community, when it is finished.

28/08/02 Requirements Phase Closed

The Requirements Phase is now closed. The current phase is now the Functional Specification Phase

About the Project


One of the most requested features for a new version of h2g2 is the provision of a WYSIWYG3 editing tool. Currently, researchers need to use a text editor to compose their articles in GuideML directly. This is fiddly and prone to error. It also means that, in order to achieve a desired effect, one needs to have full knowledge of the corresponding GuideML tag.

The GuideDog project has been inaugurated to facilitate the composition, reviewing and submission of articles intended for the DNA platform. It sets out to achieve the following objectives:

  • Provide a simple, free WYSIAWYG4 editing environment;
  • Simplify editing and formatting of text by providing an easy-to-use interface, coupled with proofing tools;
  • Improve consistency of articles intended for the Edited Guide by making them less error-ridden;
  • Ease the burden on Sub-eds and Scouts, who spend a lot of time pointing out formatting errors and typos;
  • Be flexible enough for use on other sites using the DNA architecture.


The Diehards

There are three of us who constitute the 'core team' as it were:

Those Who Have Offered Their Help

The following Researchers have offered their support:


Technical Gurus



(The estimable Jim Lynn has also offered to help by providing technical advice). As we are doing this work unpaid and in our own time5 and all for the greater glory of the h2g2 community, we will appreciate any support at all you can offer. This could include
  • Programming time
  • Stylesheet design
  • Testing
  • Suggestions for improvement
Any contribution will be acknowledged fully. We need Web, XML, C++ and VB gurus.


GuideDog will be a stand-alone editing package. It will take advantage of powerful new features built into current Web browsers to allow you to edit GuideML while still preserving a realistic browsing experience. You will see and manipulate formatted text directly and will be shielded from having to write any GuideML.

The user interface will resemble that of a word processor such as Microsoft Word. You will perform all editing in document windows which resemble, as practicably as possible, your final Edited Guide article. Support will be initially provided for Alabaster and Classic Goo skins.

Currently, only Approved GuideML will be supported. Non-approved tags will not be supported.


You will be able to download GuideDog and install it on your PC. You will not need to be connected to the Internet in order to use it. GuideDog will be freely redistributable (and this includes at the BBC!).

GuideDog is intended to run only on the Windows platform for the forseeable future. There are plans to produce a Linux or Mac version6


Probably the most difficult question to answer. Basically, maana, so don't hold your breath. We are currently at the requirements gathering stage. See below for progress reports.

You can also sign up as a Supporter of GuideDog. You don't have to do anything other than support the aims of the project and be prepared to say so. If you do support the project's aims, then chances are you will have some idea about what kind of solution you'd like to see. if so, please start a conversation thread below.

Project Related Stuff

SourceForge Resources

You can find the Windows project page here. Also the Linux Version

1Who really should stop whingeing about Bill Gates being richer than they are2 and get out more2Let's face it, he's richer than everyone else on the planet3What You See Is What You Get4What You See Is Almost What you Get5FM has a job and family (for now), and Jonny has exams coming up6The Windows version will be released first, mainly because that's where the demand will be.

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