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To install a new package on one's machine, one first downloads and unpacks the package into the $BaseDirectory/Applications directory. The tutorial

Installing NewAddons of Version 5.2

then recommends one go to Menu > Help and click on the Rebuild Help Index menu item. However, the tutorial was written for the version 5.2. S0 now I cannot find the Rebuild Help Index item under the Menu > Help.

What should I do instead in version 9.0.1.0?

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I would recommend to use the Workbench to build the documentation, for the package you want to install. The relevant Workbench documentation contains a description of how you do this. This is a fairly automatic process by itself, but the biggest issue will possibly be that the format of the documentation files changed in version 6, so you may have to use Documentation Tools palette to create new documentation files based on old ones. I am not sure if there are any automatic conversion tools for this task. –  Leonid Shifrin Mar 14 '13 at 12:55
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

As you might know, the documentation functionality has completely been replaced in version 6. All newer versions still contain the old help browser so it is possible to look at package documentation for packages written for version < 6. I guess that the rebuild index functionality still exists in a hidden dark corner but you don't actually need to explicitly call it: if you restart Mathematica (the FrontEnd, not only the Kernel) after having copied the package directory to $ApplicationDirectory or $UserAddOnsDirecotry the documentation of such "legacy" packages should be available. When you open the documentation center start page and click on the "Addons and Packages" link in the lower left corner it will bring you to the page "guide/InstalledAddOns" which should now contain a link for the fresh installed legacy package and clicking on it will open the old help browser. AFAIK there is no need for the "Rebuild Help Index" menu entry anymore.

Edit: After some experimenting I now think that the index is actually rebuilt on the fly whenever the link on the start page to open the "Addons and Packages" is clicked, so no restart is actually needed, a link to the documentation of a fresh installed legacy package should appear in the "Addons and Packages" if that is reopened from the start page.

Edit: It turned out that the package that the OP was using didn't contain a valid pre-V6 documentation. If in doubt one should check whether there is a Documentation subdirectory in the package directory which contains subdirectories for the supported languages (almost always just English) and in that there should be some notebook files and a file named BrowserCategories.m with references to these notebooks. Unfortunately there are many potential sources for errors in such a BrowserCategories.m which might also cause the documentation not to work/appear: pure existence of these files is a necessity but not sufficiency for the documentation to work.

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which should now contain a link for the fresh installed legacy package... Yes, it should, but it does not. Therefore, I am thinking of how to force it to recognize the newly installed package. –  Alexei Boulbitch Mar 14 '13 at 12:30
    
@AlexeiBoulbitch: which package do you try to use? have you checked that it contains a Documentation directory with the correct setup and a BrowserCategries.m file with valid entries and everything is at the right place? Do you have another legacy package where the documentation does work? I just tried this with an old package and everything works alright (=as I described) for me with version 9.0.1 on windows 7... –  Albert Retey Mar 14 '13 at 12:50
    
@AlexeiBoulbitch: another thing you might want to try is to install the package in $UserBaseDirectory. I don't know if it makes a difference but it could be necessary that you have write permissions somewhere for Mathematica generate files when generating the index on the fly... –  Albert Retey Mar 14 '13 at 13:09
    
Thank you. I tried to look at the "Non-Grid Interpolation Package" from library.wolfram.com/infocenter/MathSource/7760 I did not check Documentation directory in the package, and I think there is no such directory there. Concerning the $UserBaseDirectory, I tried there also with the same outcome. But now I realize that the problem might be in the package itself. –  Alexei Boulbitch Mar 15 '13 at 12:07
    
@AlexeiBoulbitch: I just had a look at that package, and it indeed does not contain documentation prepared for the pre-V6 help browser. You can just open one of the notebook which serve as documentation in the frontend, though. Depending on what exactly you need, some of the functionality of that package might be part of newer Mathematica versions, e.g. in the "ComputationalGeometry" package... –  Albert Retey Mar 15 '13 at 13:29
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