Little Known Things about the Eclipse Infocenter: Basic and Bot Mode (1/5)

The Eclipse help system can also be launched as a stand-alone web application, the so-called Infocenter. The Eclipse Infocenter is widely used by several companies and organizations, with and without adaptions. Although many of you will be familiar with help.eclipse.org or one of these websites, hardly anyone will know all of the five well-hidden features of the Infocenter that might be useful to you. They will be presented individually here. And here comes number one: the basic and the bot mode.

When you visit the Infocenter with a very, very, very old web browser such as the Internet Explorer 5.5 or Netscape Navigator 4.8 the website looks different than with any web browser that was released in the last twelve years. This so-called basic mode (in contrast to the advanced mode for current browsers) exists mainly because these old browsers do not support JavaScript callbacks. For instance, if you click on a book in the table of contents, the table of contents HTML frame will be replaced by a new HTML page in which the whole subtree of the clicked book is expanded. This is realized simply by HTML links. In the normal advanced mode the chapters of the next level are asynchronously loaded via JavaScript without leaving the page.

Eclipse Luna Help in Basic Mode

The basic mode can also be useful with a current browser. For example, if you need the whole table of contents of a book then it can be easily extracted (and copied) from /basic/tocView.jsp. This saves you manually expanding every individual chapter.

In the Infocenter, the browser detection to switch between basic and advanced mode is done via the User-Agent HTTP header field. The User-Agent field is also used to present the website without HTML frames to web crawlers in a third mode, the bot mode. For the Google Search Bot the Luna Help with its 17,875 topics looks like this:

Eclipse Luna Help in Bot Mode

The next little known things about the Eclipse Infocenter on my list are Deep Linking, Search Links, Language Switching and Debugging Information. Stay tuned!

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