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View Full Version : Electronic docs and/or paper docs, YOU DECIDE!!!



Dodgy
10-07-2008, 07:27 AM
I've been thinking a bit about docs for the next LW, and while it's nice to have a big slab of paper to read on the toilet, it's really getting a bit unwieldy now with all the features. So I was thinking what if the next reference manual was only electronic, possibly a wiki, to reduce redundancy and to make it linkable so it's easier to find something referenced in one page. I immediately go for the html manual now, so I think this would be better all round. However, I think there's still room for a paper Tutorial book, but I'm posting this poll to see what people think....

RollerJesus
10-07-2008, 07:34 AM
I prefer a searchable pdf with linkable table of contents and index. Please no wiki...

Dexter2999
10-07-2008, 08:10 AM
emanual is the coming wave. And I'm not talking PDF either. An e-book that you can put into a reader like the one Amazon or Sony makes to replace the printed manuals. I would love to see the PDF on the computer replaced with something that incorperates little videos to demonstrate each thing. Yeah, that'll happen.

Jockomo
10-07-2008, 08:52 AM
I prefer a searchable pdf with linkable table of contents and index. Please no wiki...

The problem with a pdf is that it's possible to have an older one that is out of date. Even the PDF that you can get of lightwave's manuals are out of date almost as soon as the first patch is out. Not to mention that often sections of needed info are sparse or missing and sometimes even wrong.

The nice thing about a wiki is that it can be updated, by anyone, anytime.
So if you are reading the wiki, and you run across a bug, that was maybe introduced in the last patch; you could post that info in the relevant section; and the next guy to come along will see it. That won't happen in a pdf

There is a lightwave wiki out there, but last time I checked it didn't have much content in it. For this to work, the guys at NewTek would have to actively participate in getting it going and link to it from the homepage.
Having the devs post to it themselves about the functions they created and why and how they work would be just absolutely amazing. But somehow I think that is about as unlikely to happen as getting them to acknowledge a wiki in the first place.

The only downside is if you are not connected to the internet. It would be great the wiki site could generate a pdf of the site once a month or so that would then be available for download to read offline. But really, how often are you working on lightwave and not connected to the internet?

BeeVee
10-07-2008, 09:08 AM
Have a look at LightWiki (http://www.lightwiki.com) again Jockomo. It's not a replacement for NewTek's work by any stretch but there are some great tutorials on there concerning tone mapping, image use, screamernet for the Universal Binary and much more. (Okay ad for my site over...)

B

Lightwolf
10-07-2008, 09:19 AM
Imho at least the reference manual should be printed as well. Because that's the one you're most likely to need all the time... and nothing beats having more screen estate to work.

Cheers,
Mike

RollerJesus
10-07-2008, 09:30 AM
The nice thing about a wiki is that it can be updated, by anyone, anytime.

That's exactly what I see as the problem with the wiki. When it's the responsibility of everyone to update the doc's they tend to not get updated.

Pdf's get outdated, but so does any other medium.


Imho at least the reference manual should be printed as well. Because that's the one you're most likely to need all the time... and nothing beats having more screen estate to work.

I agree having a printed reference manual is nice, but it's only useful if you can find the information quickly; ie: good index and table of contents.

By the time I find something I'm looking for my ADD kicks in and my simple single frame render turns into an exercise in FFX and dynamics and oh those weightmaps look interesting... wait, what are we talking about? :)

Lightwolf
10-07-2008, 09:33 AM
I agree having a printed reference manual is nice, but it's only useful if you can find the information quickly; ie: good index and table of contents.
Absolutely. I assumed that as given ;)

Cheers,
Mike

Phil
10-07-2008, 01:46 PM
I'd like to see printed and electronics reference and tutorial/getting started material. They can even be the same (at the time of shipping). I'd also like to see the full docs updated with each patch, to avoid the current situation where you need to bear the addenda in mind when reading the original electronic documentation. Tutorials need to be added as required as well.

What I really dislike is the evident move towards video tutorials. I simply don't find them useful or as usable as written words. I certainly don't retain the information in them as well as I do from written material, and I also cannot stick bookmarks in them, or excerpt key passages from video tutorials.

That all said, it's not simply the method of delivery which needs to be questioned, but also the actual value and content of the package being delivered.

I have long been hoping for a return to the manuals like those from LW 4 - there was a clear separation between reference material and the user guide. The explanations were clear and concise. There were tutorials that meant that an average user didn't feel scared. The tutorial-based learning approach seems to have been abandoned since at least LW 7, in favour of clubbing the user over the head with convoluted and lengthy text blocks. I'm not stupid (I think), but the average explanation of some function in the current LW manuals makes me confused almost immediately. The manuals are now my last resort simply because the experience is so unpleasant.

In these kind of discussions, I keep pointing at the AutoDesk Getting Started material for Maya. It guides you effectively and efficiently through key concepts. Within very little time, and with the very first tutorial, you know how to select subcomponents of a mesh, set up background plates for modelling, etc. It's currently my gold standard against which I measure NewTek's material, and find NT's efforts very sadly wanting. Even just ripping off the tutorials and modifying them for Modeler would be a fantastic step forwards.

shrox
10-07-2008, 02:36 PM
A book please. I read very fast (scary fast a lawyer once said) I can page through a physical book much fast and easier. Trying to scroll and read is unwieldy compared to a paper page. And it gives me something to study when the power goes out. No power, no PDF.

RollerJesus
10-07-2008, 02:37 PM
And it gives me something to study when the power goes out. No power, no PDF.

Lightwave reference by candlelight... There goes another Bunny Shrox!

ctuller
10-08-2008, 02:38 PM
I would love to see the PDF on the computer replaced with something that incorperates little videos to demonstrate each thing. Yeah, that'll happen.

PDF already supports this. Just need someone (BeeVee) to author it.

Oh and I voted eDoc only. Give Newtek extra time and cash to do something more intersting than publishing paper.

shrox
10-08-2008, 02:46 PM
Lightwave reference by candlelight... There goes another Bunny Shrox!

No bunny, might as well read...

MooseDog
10-09-2008, 09:02 AM
imho, this is fantastic:

Fusion Manual (http://www.vfxpedia.com/index.php?title=Main_Page)

i may be wrong, but can't you limit this wiki format to only specified authors, so that for instance only marvin, chuck or ben could keep it up-to-date.

from a business perspective, it's also a great selling tool for a printed manual, for those who prefer their morning constitutional with lw :D.

Lightwolf
10-09-2008, 09:11 AM
i may be wrong, but can't you limit this wiki format to only specified authors, so that for instance only marvin, chuck or ben could keep it up-to-date.
You can. There are also some PHP based tools out there that allow for comments on web pages (any kind of page that is).
That way the principal authors can change the content while users can still comment on it to provide extra information.

Cheers,
Mike

starbase1
10-13-2008, 04:05 AM
I have mixed feeling...

I good print manual is a great resource, but the actual cost of thick books with low print runs, (as must surely apply to the manuals), is rather high. They are also getting too thick to be other than lugable. I think their value is declining, though definitely nice to have.

(And breaking them into more sections is not a great help either, as I am likely to need all the chunks).

I loved the way Hexagon PDF's include tiny animations by the tools when I first saw it, that was seriously useful. But I think that in terms of finding out how to use stuff, William Vaughans videos are ten times as useful to me as the manuals.

The biggest gap for me in understanding, is what tool to use when, particularly when there are so many that are superficially similar with loads of options, and thats before you get into the different effects on edges, points, and polygons.

For many groups of related tools, (the move stuff tools, bevel / smooth shift etc, rounder / router / edge bevel etc), I'd just like to see some summary tables, and I don't really care what format they come in.

For example, for each gorup it would be handy to see a little table showing if it works on points edges and polys, and a one line 'when to use this one'. If the one liner is the same then merge the tools and simplify the interface.

Nick

Jockomo
10-20-2008, 07:45 AM
That's exactly what I see as the problem with the wiki. When it's the responsibility of everyone to update the doc's they tend to not get updated.

IMO Newtek should have someone who is paid to update the wiki. They pay someone to make the printed manual, just shift that focus to the wiki. Then it would more official and more people would use it. From there it can link to the appropriate videos that William made.

If there is a way to convert a wiki to a PDF we would be set. Then with the proper permission from NewTek, you could just stop at your local print shop and print one up, or even just print up the sections you want.

BeeVee
10-20-2008, 07:50 AM
Mediawiki can export XML to InDesign.

B

Giacomo99
10-20-2008, 03:26 PM
What I really dislike is the evident move towards video tutorials. I simply don't find them useful or as usable as written words. I certainly don't retain the information in them as well as I do from written material, and I also cannot stick bookmarks in them, or excerpt key passages from video tutorials.

What Phil said. But especially the above-quoted passage.

Dexter2999
10-20-2008, 04:26 PM
I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.- Confucious

I'm telling ya,
http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Amazons-Wireless-Reading-Device/dp/B000FI73MA

If you haven't seen one yet, this is a big deal. It is sort of a high tech Etch a sketch. It can pull up books and provides a low strain reading platform. And you can take the entire LW Manual to the crapper with you.

Between these and incorperating Proton's videos into an interactive help file, I think Newtek would pretty much have the most advanced help of any software...period.

erikals
10-29-2008, 02:05 AM
I like the current solution, where it comes with a .pdf, and where you have to pay extra if you want to have those sheet thingeys made out of wood.

"they called it paper"

JBT27
11-04-2008, 04:22 AM
I like the current solution, where it comes with a .pdf, and where you have to pay extra if you want to have those sheet thingeys made out of wood.

"they called it paper"

Yep - I love books, but 'horses for courses' ..... I hate the sheer bulk and short-life of tech manuals, and the consequent waste of shelf-space and paper and print.

Now we have far more intelligent ways to display and access such info, it's about time all the industries showed the same degree of intelligence in implementing it. NT is on the right track for sure.

.....and yeah, what Confucious said..... :D

Julian.

kopperdrake
11-04-2008, 11:20 AM
What Jockomo said and BeeVee does - get that LightWiki updated with a full-time person and a big button to give the option to print from that Wiki to either a hard copy or a PDF. Surely there must be a way where someone can enter their paypal or card details and print a manual from one of the many book publishing type websites direct from the wiki with all its latest content?

I love books but I never use the manuals these days as they're out of date as soon as they're printed! For me, these forums, random tuts on the web (like Exception's GI tome and the various screamernet tuts) and Proton's videos are the biggest help. A polished wiki with a 'print me' button could encompass all of these in a standard web browser, or as a paper version if you really want, or a PDF produced from the wiki also.

But it needs someone full time on it. Last place I worked they had the games engine and associated tools which were constantly being written, over-written, updated - much the same way that LightWave is. They employed one person to keep the inhouse online help system up to date, who actively collected tips and tricks from each artist who had a specialism in each area and who had often been the one to ask for certain features. NewTek need such a person - a technical author who bounces between the programmers, the tutorial writers, the users and dumps it all into a cohesive and comprehendable wiki.

Do it :thumbsup:

tburbage
11-11-2008, 10:37 PM
I still love good quality books, primarily because I really do like to concentrate on learning away from the computer, but I guess I can see the time when good electronic solutions will be the best way forward.

A well maintained Wiki, to which users can contribute (in a moderated form) might be a good thing, especially since it can incorporate videos, images, content downloads, and can be constantly updated for errors, new content, etc.
I really don't like reading long form stuff off of a computer, though, and not everybody has a laptop. It isn't often mentioned, but LW still lacks context-sensitive on-line help. Maybe hyperlinking to the Wiki could help make that feasible....

Thomas M.
11-14-2008, 04:14 AM
Printed manuals and telephon books are such a waste ...

dgrigo
11-24-2008, 01:29 PM
Solution !! Printed Documentation at an extra price.
I don't want to be a Zombie in front of a Computer all day.. and i love my toilet reading!
So I will pay to have them.

JonW
12-17-2008, 10:28 PM
A book,
even though mine is version 6, it is full of book marks and notes pencilled in, & it is not far from the desk. I think having somewhere physical, allows things just to sink in that little bit more, & some important notes I would have lost if written on a piece of paper. A screen is 2d real estate, a book is a 3d filing cabinet.

When LW goes to “10” I will probably get a book up grade.

And the most absolute critical issue mentioned earlier...... Toilet reading..... This it the last place I want to use a computer!

jcrosby
01-02-2009, 11:30 PM
With all the money we've paid over the years, Newtek can afford to print a good quality manual for the software. I've spent thousands on this program since it's debut. I hear people talking about the cost to Newtek. What about the cost in time and money to the user who must search through endless websites, and/or forums, to get an answer to a question. I pick up my trusty manual, flip to the index, and there she blows. I really deplore this rush to technology, when it says we have to do away with something as precious as books. Call me a Luddite if you must, but I love books. Including boring old software manuals. Don't anybody get their panties in a wad now. I love technology, or you wouldn't be reading this. However, I don't like this idea of a paperless world. So a few trees have to be used to make them. Trees grow back. That's what forest do. That's perhaps the most offensive thing I hear about paper, mostly from thick headed environmentalists. Funny, you never hear the their droning preaching when their reaching for the toilet paper, LOL. Sorry to sound strident, I just hate this "technology trumps old school" routine. There will always be things that technology can't replace. Well you can guess my vote, :)

Matt
01-03-2009, 12:58 AM
If it were up to me:

Fully documented PDF, with links to short videos explaining the stuff that needs more detailed instruction.

Optional printed (full colour where appropriate) reference for Layout, Modeler, Surfacing, Scripting. These would be cover ONLY descriptions for each of the controls / plugins etc. that ship with LightWave.

erikals
01-03-2009, 02:42 AM
Good suggestion Matt :) I'm going with that one...

JBT27
01-03-2009, 03:07 AM
Yep, it's the same argument round and round - when there was nothing but the printed page, then fine, no choice.

But, to see bookshelves under the weight of dozens of now outdated and almost useless paper manuals, and pages and pages devoted to a procedure that is easily demonstrated in a 4 minutes video with commentary.....horses for courses here, I reckon.

I don't see any major reason to continue tech manuals, for computers, as the printed page. And, if I were a publisher, I would seriously be looking at all those books, like Albee's rigging and Boughen's lighting, and wondering about future releases being PDFs with video. I'd happily pay more for such things, to download them, and even additional fees for updated and new chapters.

I'll concede there's possibly massive piracy issues here, but all the same, I still believe that is the way forward. The dozens of books I have on British history are good for decades, whereas the multi-hundred pages LW7 manual is arguably now only good for recycling.

Julian.

erikals
01-03-2009, 03:13 AM
not sure, it most likely would get copied and put on the web, so to authors, going digital could very possibly mean loosing a great deal of money.

yep, that's another thing, the manuals vaste quite a lot of tree : )

jcrosby
01-04-2009, 02:50 AM
I'll concede there's possibly massive piracy issues here, but all the same, I still believe that is the way forward. The dozens of books I have on British history are good for decades, whereas the multi-hundred pages LW7 manual is arguably now only good for recycling.

Julian.[/QUOTE]

Hey Julian,
I'm still using V. 7.5, should I toss my manual out. You see it's not as simple as that. I guess not everybody is as up to date as others may be. Books are great ! All kinds of books. They'll never be "Out of Date" ! I invested/wasted thousands in the Amiga computer platform. Because of the laziness and greed of their management, it became obsolete. That's what happens when you must have the latest and greatest. Anyway, you techies enjoy your new disposable world. I'll stay in glorious past where I belong, LOL. Nothing but Non Gay love for ya, :)

Joe

Captain Obvious
01-04-2009, 04:18 AM
If I wanted a paper manual, I can bloody well print it myself! Or, you know, I could print it myself, if I had a printer... Anyway...

Red_Oddity
01-04-2009, 04:22 AM
I'm leaning more towards electronic manuals.

PDF files are a big no no though, they are too big, cumbersome and i always seem to have downloaded an outdated manual.

The way Eyeon did it with VFXPedia is a big step forward, though the Wiki server software does need a bit of a better search engine, and offcourse there's always the chance of server downtime (i've already had this a couple of times with the VFXPedia)
I'm all for the Wiki approach though (with a comment system attached and offcourse only mods can edit and add articles), this is a sure way to always have an up to date manual handy (and anyone who works in our field always has a web browser window open, don't deny it, so the screen real estate argument pretty much moot)

erikals
01-04-2009, 08:23 AM
yeah, maybe wiki is the way to go, with links to online videoes.
easy to update and always up to date.

UnCommonGrafx
01-04-2009, 09:12 AM
I would like it all printable with the exception of videos, obviously.

The manuals now offer little insight as to the power of the program yet clearly offers a glimpse at the complexity. Here's a cup raised to the 9.6 manual being touched with lots of tutorials.

With the new color lasers, that even duplex for you, there is no reason for one to pay for manuals; cheaper if you self publish, me thinks.

Edit: Toilet reading is still a must. Thus the greatness of the new printer: EVERYTHING gets printed in glorious color. :)

erikals
01-04-2009, 09:35 AM
well, i don't mind the manual, but i feel those money could be used elsewhere.
they cost quite alot, not to mention the shipping cost.

if NT choose to make things only downloadable instead they will save quite alot of money.

Captain Obvious
01-05-2009, 09:50 AM
I'm leaning more towards electronic manuals.

PDF files are a big no no though, they are too big, cumbersome and i always seem to have downloaded an outdated manual.

The way Eyeon did it with VFXPedia is a big step forward, though the Wiki server software does need a bit of a better search engine, and offcourse there's always the chance of server downtime (i've already had this a couple of times with the VFXPedia)
I'm all for the Wiki approach though (with a comment system attached and offcourse only mods can edit and add articles), this is a sure way to always have an up to date manual handy (and anyone who works in our field always has a web browser window open, don't deny it, so the screen real estate argument pretty much moot)
The manual system HAS to be available offline, and be application/platform indifferent. That's why PDF is a good choice -- you can choose any reader you want, and it will still look the same and most of them support searching.

Giacomo99
01-05-2009, 04:56 PM
Just to put my two cents in, I don't think printed manuals necessarily have to be disposable. I can imagine that with a little planning they can be printed in a modular format where new features are simply documented in new, separate volumes.

The larger problem for me is that right now, the LW documentation is so half-assed that the only way to find something is to do a keyword search in the PDF and hope something comes up—which it often doesn't. The problem is as much an issue of poorly organized material as it is of digital vs. physical format.

dvfx
01-23-2009, 11:24 AM
honestly I mostly just want the manual to be accurate. having multiple sources that are slightly different or inaccurate is really frustrating!
If I had to choose in order of preference it would be...
1) Printed.......2) PDF........3) Online.

iluxa
01-25-2009, 03:25 AM
I use pdf, so i download 9.6 all "screen"-data pdf and one "printed"
Why bookmarks(as content-links) do not working? I try at foxit's pdf-reader.

JBT27
01-25-2009, 03:33 AM
Just to put my two cents in, I don't think printed manuals necessarily have to be disposable. I can imagine that with a little planning they can be printed in a modular format where new features are simply documented in new, separate volumes.

The larger problem for me is that right now, the LW documentation is so half-assed that the only way to find something is to do a keyword search in the PDF and hope something comes up—which it often doesn't. The problem is as much an issue of poorly organized material as it is of digital vs. physical format.

Agreed - case in point, at least in the web docs, there is no specific index entry for Reference Object in the Texture Editor, you can only find that in context by searching for the Texture Editor.

Likewise the OpenGL settings panels in Display options.

There is a serious lack of logic and thought about these docs.

Every named button or command or field should have an easily found description somewhere, and should be listed in an index, easy to find. You then make context searches from that point, having identified the item you are querying, but when the docs are poor to the point that you cannot easily find given items in LW, then frankly many newbies are stuffed.

This goes way beyond issues of printed versus electronic, this is all about having a decent set of docs in the first place. In the time the OBs have been running, and I mean all of them, how is it that there is no significant improvement in the docs.

Sure, the LWX docs may be a whole new ball-game and NT are leaving the 9.x docs as-is because we are moving on to better things.....but even so, this does not bode well.....

Julian.

JBT27
01-25-2009, 03:36 AM
I use pdf, so i download 9.6 all "screen"-data pdf and one "printed"
Why bookmarks(as content-links) do not working? I try at foxit's pdf-reader.

Yeah, I thought I read that the screen/low-res PDFs were searchable via bookmarks, clicking on Contents entries.....they ain't.

May have misunderstood, but why bother having two sets when they both behave the same way?

I have no problem accessing the high-res/print PDFs onscreen, so what's the point of the others, unless they were made to include bookmarks.

And what's this new content team doing that Jay told us about months ago.

Oh sure, preparing for the big LWX extravaganza, but until then, what about the latest and greatest?

Julian.

bhughes3D
02-09-2009, 05:09 PM
I have no problem accessing the high-res/print PDFs onscreen, so what's the point of the others, unless they were made to include bookmarks.

I found this thread because I have the same problem with the bookmarks in the screen-res PDFs, they don't work. I looked at them with Acrobat Pro and the links are in there but they look like they were generated in InDesign from a much larger document and then split. Perhaps the split broke the links in the PDF, I don't know.

I do know that I find it very hard to search for specific information in both the web-based help or the PDF versions. The search feature in the web help is poor at best and the PDFs really need those ToC links fixed.