As a medical doctor, I rely a lot on regular knowledge (the one inside our brains) and large, external databases, like information on medicines and a code list for all the diseases known to man. But then there’s a middle ground: information I learned but I might forget. And that’s where Mallard has been helping for the last months — keeping medical notes.
There are plenty of technologies I could use for this. In fact, one of the best candidates was Tomboy, but I didn’t want to mix the other notes with my medical ones (the notebooks feature wasn’t enough) and I needed the technology to handle tables. Then, there are plenty of wikis out there, but I didn’t want to have an HTTP server in my netbook, and TiddlyWiki seemed too fragile for me (try control+left on your browser).
Mallard is topic-oriented, which is exactly what I need. Being fond of IT and GNOME, editing Mallard XML should be easy enough, even if lists and specially tables are a little too cumbersome. IMHO no file format is completely future-proof, but Mallard is almost there, being an open XML format and counting with out-of-the-box tools to convert documents to HTML and XHTML.
All my medical notes are placed in a single directory, and I created a launcher on the desktop which runs yelp with that directory as an argument. I believe this is the most convenient way for GNOME users. But at the beginning I used to run
gnome-doc-tool html *.page and open
index.html in a web browser.
I’m very happy about using Mallard for my medical notes. The gedit syntax highlight is excellent, even if I’d like to use the XML snippets together with the Mallard-specific ones (but that’s a gedit issue). I’d like to thank the GNOME Documentation Team of helping me when I had trouble in the first steps, as well as for writing excellent documentation on the Mallard file format.
Overall, Mallard is a great documentation system, both for software and non-software documentation.