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About Mallard

Mallard is a documentation format designed to make topic-oriented help as simple as possible. In contrast to linear documentation, which is designed to be read cover-to-cover, topic-oriented help provides users the information they need quickly. Mallard was designed to help users find, learn, and explore:

  • Find: Users can navigate to information following a path that fits their mental model.

  • Learn: Users can find the information they need in a topic without reading any more background information than necessary.

  • Explore: Users can learn more if they choose to by following links to more in-depth information.

Mallard helps you help your users by making things simple. The base Mallard language is refined from years of working with online help, and contains only the elements you're most likely to need. And with its rich automated links, Mallard removes many tedious and error-prone bookkeeping tasks. See how easy Mallard is with the Ten Minute Tour.

Mallard is available in either XML or Ducktype. Ducktype is a lightweight language designed to do everything Mallard can do, including arbitrary nesting, full semantics, and even extensions. Learn Ducktype with our Ducktype tutorial.

Mallard was uniquely designed from the beginning to support extensible documents. Because of Mallard's automated links, you can insert topics into existing documents without modifying any of the original files. No other format makes it as easy to provide help for plugins and extensions, to ship supplementary help separately, or to support extra information from downstream distributors and OEMs.

Although you can easily use Mallard without ever thinking about extending or customizing it, the Mallard language was designed to be extended using new elements and attributes in different XML namespaces. The specification rigidly defines the behavior for unrecognized extensions so that you can design extensions that fall back gracefully with any standards-compliant processing tool.

© 2010, 2019 Shaun McCance
cc-by-sa 3.0 (us)

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

As a special exception, the copyright holders give you permission to copy, modify, and distribute the example code contained in this document under the terms of your choosing, without restriction.

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