Jul 12, 2012 5:38 AM
When CS5 went out, i spend a lot of time here trying to undertand what happened to the online help.
I even stopped adding comment and being part of the community help because metric driven design is,
as far as the help layout is concerned, a very very bad idea.
My hopes were limited for CS5.5 and I really wanted Adobe to correct this in CS6...
I wonder what happened with the online help part of Adobe apps in general, and AE specifically.
I wanted to check some stuff on it, and it’s a complete disaster (at least in french).
All the links in the "what’s new in cs6" are pointing to Todd’s blog home page, not even to the related post, and it even links to it when the topic is not disscussed at all on the blog. Hopefully, they all comes with another link to the home page of video brain, not even to the correct course or anything.
I’ll be more specific; For a tutorial I’m recording, I wanted to check some info on the new material properties, because I’m not a 3D guy and wanted to use the correct french words and be sure not to mess-up.
So I went to the online help home page, got in the what’s new in cs6 page, then scrolled down to new material option where it linked me to Todd’s blog and video brain. Both on the home page. Because I didn’t care about watching a video, and needed to read some stuff in french to get the correct words, I went to the Layer & properties part of the help.
What a joy, 6 of the 7 topics wheren’t updated since january 1st (meaning no info about new stuff in CS6) and the only part updated is about 3D layers, yay ! So let’s open that page.
I got 8 topics, none with info about the materials, old or new, only basics info about rotating,moving, 2d/3d layers, intersecting... and, on this "Product affected: Adobe After Effects CS6" page, info about Photoshop 3D layers, a feature removed from the product.
That’s when I used that handy "search box", because that’s what I was told when I complained about how lame was the CS5 docs navigation compared to the CS4 one: the paradigm shifted from topic related discovery to keyword search related discovery.
Let’s try to find out some info for the "Options Surface" category.
it takes me to the community help results: http://community.adobe.com/help/search.html?searchterm=optionsurface&q=optionsurface&lbl=aftereffects_product_adobelr&x=0&y=0&area=0&lr=en_US&hl=en _US
The first AE related link is 7th on the list despite a search in AE related docs... And on the 4 AE related links, nothing to do with what I need. Yes, I know, I searched the french name, but shouldn’t I get community results in french , or at least, official documention results in french ?
If I select the "only adobe content" radio button, it’s worse. Less AE links, less relevant.
If I click "support" instead of Community help, it’s not better, still more links pointing to Illustrator or Photoshop than After Effects. At least, 1 link is related to 3D layers in raytraced environment, but not what I’m looking for.
Oh yes, now there's a topic browsing page. Let's have a try with that. Guess what ? Couldn’t find the info I was looking for.
Removing the breadcrumb navigation in CS5 help was an ugly move, but this new help system is just... I don’t know how to say it politely. I haven’t been satisfied with the help system since CS5, when you removed the very usefull, always on context and organised bredcrumb navigation on the left hand side of the screen. I wished you stoped the "search" paradigm and went back to the "organised" one. I know your metrics shows people love searching. But how many search does they have to go through before getting the correct result ? How many unsuccessfull search before they don't bother anymore ? Honestly I’ve never seen such a messy help, and it really is confusing. It even feels like Adobe doesn’t bother about it anymore, and that it’s now relying only on external content, giving the feeling that the only thing up-to-date are the links to videobrain/creativecow/whatever rather than the official content itself. Hopefully, the curators for these links only points to very good tutorials.
The other thing that is bothering me, is that we get more and more video content instead of text content. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching videos. But I also love to read the docs. It’s much more effective that trying to seek in the video for that special piece of info you are looking for (and there no way to know if the info you’re looking for is indeed in the video or not, or to "search" it's content).
And don't get me started on the Help App, I never understood why you did it in the first place. Not as inconvenient as the website, but nearly.
Not having an efficiant documentation is bad. I’ve been asking for an help redesign since CS5, complained in a blog post and on the community help forums. With this new non-sensical online help, where nothing is to be found easily, this will soon become mendatory. If Adobe doesn’t care for help anymore, they should remove it completly instead of making it less and less relevant, and more and more messy. If you have an email address where I can send this rant I’d be glad to let the right people know.