As a professional programmer myself I can say that yes, linking to the pdf on the help menu is not a difficult task, but that’s not really the issue. They’re obviously trying to get away from generating pdf documents and want to steer users towards online help.
Online help has its advantages. If you need to make a change to the documentation, you change the website and everyone automatically gets the new information rather than having to generate a new pdf and make it available for download. And of course, all corporate executives know that being “in the cloud” is trendy and thus marketable.
I personally prefer a pdf for documentation, and there’s also the issue many have where they intentionally keep their studio computers disconnected from the Internet. That said, when a company makes a change like this (making it difficult for you to not do it their way, e.g. having to hunt down and download the pdf), it’s usually an indication of where they’re going whether you like it or not. My crystal ball sees a future version of Cubase where there’s no pdf documentation available at all.
The problem is that the online help is straight-up garbage.
Tonight was my first time seriously working in C9 and I was having some trouble with note length snapping in a new project. I’m running version 9.0.10, and in the Help menu of course all I see is the “Cubase Help” link. (F1 also goes to Cubase Help.)
Not a single one of my searches produced anything even approaching a relevant result. The online help content contains only a small fraction of what’s in the PDF documentation. It is USELESS.
I started getting nervous when I searched my Cubase install folder for PDF files and only found the VST Connect manual. I am SO GLAD I found this thread with the link to the ZIP of the PDF files.
I know many companies are moving away from producing full-on manuals for their products, but Steinberg SERIOUSLY needs to fill in the blanks in their Cubase Help system if that’s their endgame, because it is infuriatingly bad right now. A new Cubase user wouldn’t stand a chance if that were the only documentation available.
P.S. You CAN get to the PDF downloads by taking a few hops from Cubase Help:
Help > Cubase Help > More resources > Downloads > select Cubase Pro 9 under Download Software, scroll down to the steinberg help link under Documentation. Oy.
They are trading their convenience for ours. I just spent 40 minutes trying to get this shit to work (F1 for PDF) and I’m close to giving up. It’s just silly. Whats more important; your customers getting the information they require or Dieter from the help desk being able to punctuate his latest changes more effortlessly?
They’ve created a pdf help file. However, they’re making it difficult to access, opting instead to make the online help easy to reach. This means they’re prodding the herd, conditioning people to start using the online help instead of the pdf file. If they follow the typical path for this sort of strategy, it means that once they have people accustomed to using the online help, they’ll stop creating the pdf manuals altogether.
The desire to shift from pdf generation to online help could be motivated by at least two factors. First, online help doesn’t require as much formatting and attention to detail on the layout and appearance as a pdf document. That means less labor per release, which can either be viewed as profitability or freeing people up for other tasks.
Another reason things like this happen in a development shop is religion. Someone gets it in their head that doing xyz is “the right way” to do things, and fights until they win the battle. Whether it’s documentation or code, you’d be surprised how often this highly subjective criteria drives the end results.
I don’t disagree with your sentiment. I greatly prefer the pdf documentation. Maybe if enough people voice their concern, the path I’ve outlined won’t happen. Maybe they’ll do whatever the heck they feel like doing whether some of us like it or not. I would imagine the marketing people seriously doubt that people will stop buying Cubase and choose a different DAW because the documentation isn’t in pdf format. If that’s the case and it doesn’t affect revenue, then you can be as unhappy as you like and it won’t change anything.
Of course, I could be wrong about SB trying to condition people prior to eliminating the pdf format altogether. If that’s the case, I consider the removal of the link in Cubase to be exceedingly trivial. I never use it anyway. I have a shortcut to the pdf file on my desktop and just click it. I can understand the uproar if they eliminate the pdf format, and I might chime in myself. Where you click to bring up the document, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be a serious enough issue to generate this level of animosity. But then, that’s just me.
Since every manufacturer has a different idea of where to put their manuals (heck NI can’t even decide on a single scheme), I copy every manual into a folder (with some subfolders) called “Manuals.” Then I added this folder to Windows Taskbar as a Toolbar. Now I can click on the Toolbar and get a menu listing all the manuals.