HST Handbooks Migrated to HDox

D. Coe (dcoe[at]stsci.edu) and S. Rose

First came "JDox," the JWST Documentation pages, launched in 2016. Now we are pleased to announce "HDox," the HST Documentation pages. HDox began by hosting the HST Call for Proposals in Cycle 26. Since then, it has matured to also include the HST Phase  Proposal Instructions, Instrument Handbooks, and Data Handbooks.

While previous versions of these documents have been online for over 20 years now, the new HDox webpages offer improved search capabilities to help you find information faster. They will also allow instrument teams to quickly update information in their handbooks mid-cycle, if needed.

Please visit us at http://hst-docs.stsci.edu.


HDox consists of the following HST documents:

Additional information on HST and all the instruments is available at www.stsci.edu/hst. This is one significant difference between HDox and JDox. For JWST, most of the technical information and advice is found on JDox, with relatively little appearing on http://jwst.stsci.edu. For HST, more content may be found in both places.

Improved Search

The HST Call for Proposals, Phase Ⅱ Proposal Instructions, Instrument Handbooks, and Data Handbooks continue to be available in both webpage and PDF formats. Some users have expressed preference for PDFs, in part because they provided the easiest way to search throughout a given document. We listened to our users and are now proud to offer improved search functionality in the new HDox webpages. For the Instrument Handbooks and Data Handbooks in particular, users now have options to search throughout all pages of a handbook or within a single chapter. These features are available within HDox. Searches across all of HDox are also available via the HST Help Desk and the new HST webpages.

Handbook Updates

With HDox, our HST Instrument Teams can now easily edit content on their own webpages. With the previous webpages, our technical experts submitted change requests to an editor who would update all content for them. These edits were performed annually for the Instrument Handbooks to support each year's Call for Proposals. The Data Handbooks were updated even less often. Now with HDox, our instrument experts will be free to update information as frequently as needed!

Note that all handbook content will be frozen each year between the Call for Proposals release and Phase Ⅰ proposal deadline. That way proposers need not worry about checking back for updates while they are preparing their proposals.

After the freeze, any mid-cycle handbook updates will be tracked, summarized, and displayed prominently for each handbook. We plan to keep all PDFs in sync with the webpage versions, including any mid-cycle updates.


The Call for Proposals, Phase Ⅱ Instructions, and Instrument Handbooks are updated every year. The Instrument Handbooks may be updated more frequently in HDox. The Data Handbooks had been updated less frequently, but this may change thanks to HDox.

Next year, we plan to roll out a new "Versions" capability in HDox. This will allow users to easily switch between the current versions of an HDox page and any previous version (since the HDox migration).

Documents from all HST cycles are archived as PDFs on our website.

Website Overhaul

The HDox migration was a small part of a much larger effort to upgrade all STScI websites. We have now migrated the majority of our content from older web servers running Zope to more modern content managers: Jahia and Confluence. Jahia powers the new websites at www.stsci.edu, while Confluence powers the HDox pages at http://hst-docs.stsci.edu.

We hope you appreciate these changes but understand they take some getting used to. If you have any trouble finding content in the new webpages, or have any other comments or questions, please contact us via the HST Help Desk: http://hsthelp.stsci.edu.

HDox Banner
Figure 1: Above is the banner for the new Hubble Space Telescope User Documentation (HDox) webpages. HDox offers improved search capabilities, and allows instrument teams to quickly update information in their handbooks mid-cycle.