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April 07, 2006



I agree that online docs are much more convenient than hunting through the index and toc.

The problem is that Autodesk's docs are pretty much the only ones that are online. That would be alright, except that the help files contain errors and ommissions and malformed links.

Links is another problem. A command will link to related commands, system variables, and methods -- and eventually you get lost in link Heck.

I can sympathize with the huge task of documenting a sprawling monster like AutoCAD 2007, but in the past I have also urged Autodesk to release an update to its online docs (after the software comes out) to correct the too-many problems.

OTOH, less-than-stellar documentation gives us authors our business!

Cameron Leach

I am a CAD student in college right now, and I personally find that I barely refer to the autocad manual I had to pay for. It is much easier for me to simply hit F1 and bring up that clunker of a book in a neat, organized, and ELECTRONIC manner. The ability to browse topics quickly and easily, combined with search functions that can yield answers to your questions more easily than a book, AND the ability to update your help files online, leads me to prefer electronic documentation.

But that's just me. Besides, I could always print out help files on paper if I wanted to, am I right?


You people must like reading stereo instructions too. Yes, often times I did feel like I was getting my monies worth with a whole "THUD" of a library with the purchase of AutoCAD. But it was deceptful. Having a book handy for the...oh....maybe 5% of the time I need it, okay that's a plus. But "F1" is alot easier to hit, than to dig up a thick book. And to you students out there looking to train yourselves...yes, a good book would be the answer. The keyword here is "good". Go and get a book from Borders or Amazon or wherever, that will actually TEACH you. Not the typical stereo instructions...

R.K. McSwain

The little card you fill out (or if you go to http://www.autodeskbookrequest.com) is only good for one manual, the skinny 150 pg. "Getting Started" guide. [ http://images.autodesk.com/adsk/files/civil3D2007_cgs.pdf ]

What if you want the whole 'R12 like' manual set? Customization Guide, Users Guide, Command Reference, Network Installation Guide, etc. [ http://mypage.bluewin.ch/3cjdk/eb/artikel/diverse/acad1.jpg ]

Developers Guide = $35
Autolisp Tutorial = $35
ActiveX and VBA Developers Guide = $35

Paper manuals or not should be an option at ORDER time, not after shipment, and for 4 grand plus, you should have the option of receiving all the manuals you want.

Steve Bubendorf

AutoCAD is a complex software. It costs an arm and a leg. The user should receive on-line and a full set of printed manuals. Every effort should be made to reduce down time due to searching for the required info every time they throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Sometimes things are well enough referenced that I find what I want quickly on-line. Other times I need an over-all picture that can be marked up and re-referenced,highlighted, additionally commented, etc., etc.

AutoCAD is driving it's customers away in droves by their greed that completely disregards the needs of their customers. This is simply one of many examples.

Martyn Day

Well, I think we all better start thinking about the planet. Hundreds of thousands of manuals printed off every year for the new AutoCAD? All that weighty stuff packed onto planes and flown around the world? Nah, give me a PDF manual everytime, it's a small issue. Although I do think the price of AutoCAD and especially LT are too high, manual or no manual.

John Burrill

About three times a year, I'll come up the stairs to my apartment(not rent-controlled) and find a plastic grocery bag sitting on my door mat, bulged, split and showing the corners of not one but three, two thousand page phone books: a yellow pages bloated with ads that in proportion, would suggest I spend 96% of my money on personal injury lawyers, a white pages, flush and replete with black squiggles on white like the book had been smashed closed during a swarm of houseflies and, my favorite, the mini-block roach-killer, cutsie collectable abridged version of the other two ballast slabs.
I said this happens four times a year, because, like Capital One, the local bells assume my complete lack of response to their advertised promotions means I've take a vow of silence to properly express my gratitude in prayer.
Why the curdled sarcasm? I'm a post nineties reuse-or-lose refugee from curb-side recycling. I can't throw away forty pounds of pulp-fibre and two hundred tons of greenhouse gasses without getting a little sick, so I drop the 20lb door stop bag-n-all in a dusty stack on the floor of my pantry and wait for it to get wet, grow mold or trip me in the morning when I'm none too centered in my Chi.
But the truth is, I'd beg for Bellsouth, Sprint and MCI to just send me a useless CD like AOL does or even spam my inbox with links to an online version, because, I'm not sentimental about the blighted slashpine forests or the steaming fart smell of the papermills in the morning. The printed volume isn't convenient. It's archaic, wasteful and next to useless given the rate at which the content in it changes.
I'd much rather have an extra explorer window pointing to yp.yahoo.com on my desktop than a hernia accelerator on my other desktop-let alone in my car or carry-on luggage.
Well, maybe my rant about BellSouth has gone on too long. Scene 24: John chases a point, take one, ACTION!
I did learn the hard way, that I appreciate the solicitude of excluding everything from my mind but the book, a light and my hands. There is and indellible permanence in the texture of of heavey paper, an incorruptable voice and a ready passage out of the shifting, illusory world. I'm not a book hater.
But after five years at a reseller with hundreds of cubic feet of cabinet space and six dumpsters full of surplus, obsoleted and retired printed media swallowing our small building, I wasn't grateful for the medium. I thought it was a waste of energy and materials that would have been better spent regression testing the software.
I did read the printed manuals for AutoCAD 13. They taught me lisp, rendering (such as it was) and ASE (AutoCAD SQL extension, remember that?) That was the beginning of 1997. A year later we got R14, all the documentation was online and I have not since, looked inside the AutoCAD 13 books. I don't expect many of you have either. Printed release manuals are the toxic waste of our industry-along with Mlines.
I think our trees are better used for cleaning air, making furniture and presssing books of significance and enjoyment. If it means I have to mail in a postcard, to get a printed volume, I'm happy to do it...but isn't there a web site where I can ask for that instead?
You read it. You can't unread it.
John Burrill

Steven M. Smith

I, too, enjoy having a manual to throw in the car or in my briefcase. I sit and read while my wife is shopping. The electronic manual is great when I am at my computer using the software but I still like to have a printed book I can hold in my hands.


Paper copies are always nice. We have based some of our training decisions on whether the company uses paper manuals or online for their training documentation. Users like to physically have the material in hand.
I can understand the software companies wanting to include documentation electroincally. It is much easier and cheaper to update the electronic version than it would be to reprint and possibly throw away a warehouse full of old and out dated manuals.
It would have been nice if the software companies would have reduced the maintenance costs when they decided not to print manuals.

Titus Ruch

For CAD students, there is no substitute for the combination of a good instructor and a good text; however, for experienced users a hard copy manual is not nearly so functional as an electronic format that is well indexed and cross referenced.

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