Discussion:
D2007 Help scandal
(too old to reply)
Simon Beesley
2008-02-09 12:25:30 UTC
Permalink
Hi,

I would like to know why Delphi 2007 was released with a Help system that
isn't usable. Could it be that the Help was so badly flawed fixing it would
have delayed the release until 2008? But what am I saying? The Help system
still isn't fixed -- nine months after the product was launched on a
gullible community of loyal Delphi users.

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. No one without considerable
experience of Delphi could possibly use Delphi 2007. (The idea that in the
absence of proper documentation new users can go to the Delphi Basics site
is
laughable.) And I am sure I am not the only longstanding Delphi programmer
who at times toys with the idea of switching to Visual Studio.

This ridiculous situation would be a lot more palatable if CodeGear were to
admit that they've made a royal &%**!!!# of things -- a public apology --
and refrained from further trying to treat Delphi 2007 users as suckers.

Simon
Tiedo Kruisselbrink
2008-02-11 08:24:45 UTC
Permalink
Will you please first read the previous discussion "RAD Studio D2007
Help System" in this same newsgroup?

Thank you,
Tiedo
Simon Beesley
2008-02-11 15:39:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tiedo Kruisselbrink
Will you please first read the previous discussion "RAD Studio D2007
Help System" in this same newsgroup?
Thank you,
Tiedo
Why? I have read it and I have even contributed to it. What's your point?

Simon
Dan Barclay
2008-02-11 22:24:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by Simon Beesley
Post by Tiedo Kruisselbrink
Will you please first read the previous discussion "RAD
Studio D2007
Help System" in this same newsgroup?
Thank you,
Tiedo
Why? I have read it and I have even contributed to it.
What's your point?
I'm not sure you did read it or, if you did, you paid any
attention to what was really said.

re: "(The idea that in the absence of proper documentation
new users can go to the Delphi Basics site is laughable.) "

That is not a recommendation or excuse from CodeGear, but my
own suggestion. It has worked out fine for me, as a new
user. It's not laughable, but a workable solution.
Likewise, investing in Cantu's works and reading them cover
to cover is a big help.

IMHO, if you want to work with someone on a problem then
that's what you should do. It doesn't appear to me that's
what you have in mind or, if it is what you have in mind,
that you know how to go about it.

I know CodeGear is working on the help (still) and I've
given them a lot of input on the priority and importance...
with *reasons* and *examples* of what the cause and effect
is. They're certainly not where I wish they were, and it
keeps me from pressing some of my VB friends to jump in for
fear they'll get frustrated and never come back. That is to
say: I probably agree with the core of what you're saying.

At the same time, you're just ranting and raising hell. I
honestly don't think that does any good for anybody.

Dan
Brad White
2008-02-12 00:00:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dan Barclay
That is not a recommendation or excuse from CodeGear,
but my own suggestion. It has worked out fine for me,
as a new user.
Dan,

I've very much appreciated your level-headed approach
over the last 2 years or so .
Your reply here has several more examples of the same.

I'd love to buy you a drink some time if we ever get
to the same conference.

Thanks,
Brad.
Dan Barclay
2008-02-12 01:31:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by Brad White
Post by Dan Barclay
That is not a recommendation or excuse from CodeGear, but
my own suggestion. It has worked out fine for me, as a
new user.
Dan,
I've very much appreciated your level-headed approach
over the last 2 years or so .
Your reply here has several more examples of the same.
I just call 'em like I see 'em. Some folks agree.

Others don't, and I have references <vbg>
Post by Brad White
I'd love to buy you a drink some time if we ever get
to the same conference.
<chuckle> I've been known to accept a drink.

Dan
Simon Beesley
2008-02-12 05:47:38 UTC
Permalink
Dan,

Obviously I didn't make myself clear. I said the idea of the Delphi Basics
site as a replacement for the absent documentation was laughable since it is
such an inadequate response to the product's major deficiency; i.e. I am
not disparaging the Delphi Basics site, it's excellent as far as it goes.
What I meant was that it is ludicrous that people who spend several hundred
pounds on a complex piece of software should be directed to a third-part
hobbyist's site, no matter how good it is.

That is exactly what the new user has to do. And he shouldn't have to, any
more than he should have to have buy Mario Cantu's book. When I started with
Delphi 1, in 1996, I learnt the system through a combination of the help,
Delphi Magazine, umpteen Delphi web sites, and one or two third-party books
(which were indeed very useful). If I'd found the help was unusable and, on
complaining, had been told to go to some reference site I (and I think every
other user) would have been outraged. It's a joke -- not the excellent
Delphi Basics site, but the fact that that is all that's available.

It is a good suggestion, but my emphasis is on the fact it needs to made.
You wrote:

"I know CodeGear is working on the help (still) and I've given them a lot of
input on the priority and importance...
with *reasons* and *examples* of what the cause and effect is."

That would be fine if it was two months after the launch. It's nine
months -- and they seem to have done nothing effective. The December update
didn't speed up my copy of D2007 help in any fashion. I have never come
across anything like this (for incompetence) in the software world or in any
other industry. And it's especially puzzling given that the previous Help
versions were unusally good. My point is that making excuses for CodeGear or
persistently cutting them slack doesn't seem to be doing any good.

That's why I am going on like this. Perhaps if enough people make a fuss,
they may finally manage to get right what almost every software vendor gets
right the first time.

The truth is, I think Delphi is great product and I can't really imagine
switching to another RAD system. All the more reason therefore to be as
severe on them as possible. I want to carry on using Delphi -- and if they
can't do the Help properly, and then almost incomprehensibly fail to improve
it
in nine months, it tends to shake one's confidence in their ability to take
Delphi further rather than backwards. It also means users are making enough
noise. If everyone were to protest -- OK, maybe not in as strong terms as my
protest -- it's just possible, fingers crossed, CodeGear might manage to get
it together.

Simon
I'm not sure you did read it or, if you did, you paid any attention to
what was really said.
re: "(The idea that in the absence of proper documentation new users can
go to the Delphi Basics site is laughable.) "
That is not a recommendation or excuse from CodeGear, but my own
suggestion. It has worked out fine for me, as a new user. It's not
laughable, but a workable solution. Likewise, investing in Cantu's works
and reading them cover to cover is a big help.
Dan Barclay
2008-02-12 16:41:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by Simon Beesley
Dan,
Obviously I didn't make myself clear. I said the idea of
the Delphi Basics
site as a replacement for the absent documentation was
laughable since it is
such an inadequate response to the product's major
deficiency; i.e. I am
not disparaging the Delphi Basics site, it's excellent as
far as it goes.
What I meant was that it is ludicrous that people who
spend several hundred
pounds on a complex piece of software should be directed
to a third-part
hobbyist's site, no matter how good it is.
That is exactly what the new user has to do. And he
shouldn't have to, any
more than he should have to have buy Mario Cantu's book.
When I started with
Delphi 1, in 1996, I learnt the system through a
combination of the help,
Delphi Magazine, umpteen Delphi web sites, and one or two
third-party books
(which were indeed very useful). If I'd found the help was
unusable and, on
complaining, had been told to go to some reference site I
(and I think every
other user) would have been outraged. It's a joke -- not
the excellent
Delphi Basics site, but the fact that that is all that's
available.
It is a good suggestion, but my emphasis is on the fact it
needs to made.
"I know CodeGear is working on the help (still) and I've
given them a lot of
input on the priority and importance...
with *reasons* and *examples* of what the cause and effect
is."
That would be fine if it was two months after the launch.
It's nine
months -- and they seem to have done nothing effective.
Actually the feedback I was talking about started with D2005
and (trust me on this!) what you see with D2007 is (cough)
light years better. IMHO (and I think in their opinion as
well but they'll have to address that) they really screwed
up with Help right after D7.
Post by Simon Beesley
I have never come
across anything like this (for incompetence) in the
software world or in any
other industry. And it's especially puzzling given that
the previous Help
versions were unusally good. My point is that making
excuses for CodeGear or
persistently cutting them slack doesn't seem to be doing
any good.
That's why I am going on like this. Perhaps if enough
people make a fuss,
they may finally manage to get right what almost every
software vendor gets
right the first time.
Certainly a lot of folks have made a fuss (ref tons of rants
in the newsgroups in the last couple of years), but maybe a
reminder is in order that the work is not done. It is not
done until a new user can take examples and figure out what
is doing on.

I think you need to put it in those terms, with specifics,
to be of any help. Explain what a new user faces, posit the
questions they probably have, and figure out how they'd try
to find the answers.

Then ask how long they're going to do that before giving up.
Post by Simon Beesley
The truth is, I think Delphi is great product and I can't
really imagine
switching to another RAD system. All the more reason
therefore to be as
severe on them as possible. I want to carry on using
Delphi -- and if they
can't do the Help properly, and then almost
incomprehensibly fail to improve it in nine months, it
tends to shake one's confidence in their ability to take
Delphi further rather than backwards. It also means users
are making enough noise. If everyone were to protest --
OK, maybe not in as strong terms as my protest -- it's
just possible, fingers crossed, CodeGear might manage to
get it together.
I could be wrong, but I *think* they know they've got a
problem still. I believe the way to help is to keep the
focus on the problem and to point out specific scenarios
that we see to be lacking.

It's like going to the auto dealership and telling them you
don't like their car. Do they know what to do about that??
If you tell them it needs more power you'll get one
response... if you tell them it needs better gas mileage
you'll get another. If you never tell them anything
specific then they'll probably put on a cool ruby hood
ornament and you'll be left scratching your head<g>. They
tried, but can't figure out what you wanted.

I personally think it is especially important to give them
input on what we think "new users" would find critical. The
reason for that is that their normal input seems to come
from long time users via surveys and such.

I cannot state clearly enough how critical it is to capture
a new user when they sit down in front of Delphi to give it
a try. If they make a serious effort and don't succeed then
you'll have a hell of a time getting them to try again.

Dan

Simon Beesley
2008-02-12 05:56:42 UTC
Permalink
Correction.

For

"It also means users are making enough noise."

read

"It also mean users are NOT making enough noise"

This is almost as puzzling to me as the CodeGear's failure to make the help
work. Suppose you'd brought a new car, and found that the starter mechanism
didn't work. You and every other owner of the same model would be pestering
their dealers non-stop, and possibly demanding their money back. For totally
incomprehensible reasons, Delphi 2007 owners in the main take a passive and
apologetic attitude to the help scandal. Why?

Simon
Paul Hope
2008-02-12 09:40:49 UTC
Permalink
I'm with you Simon. Trouble is - where to shout?

I've emailed a few CodeGear people in the UK but they just ignore me.
There is some very good criticism on Dees blog but do they take any notice
of that or our comments here?

Regards
Paul
Post by Simon Beesley
Correction.
For
"It also means users are making enough noise."
read
"It also mean users are NOT making enough noise"
This is almost as puzzling to me as the CodeGear's failure to make the help
work. Suppose you'd brought a new car, and found that the starter mechanism
didn't work. You and every other owner of the same model would be pestering
their dealers non-stop, and possibly demanding their money back. For totally
incomprehensible reasons, Delphi 2007 owners in the main take a passive and
apologetic attitude to the help scandal. Why?
Simon
Simon Beesley
2008-02-12 14:46:19 UTC
Permalink
One more thing.

I used to work as a technical writer, so I know what a demanding job it
is -- very hard to do good documentation, online or printed. But the
quality, clarity, comprehensiveness of the documentation is irrelevant if
the user can't access it. The bare minimum requirement for a help system
is that it should be available, and if available, organised in such a way
that the user can find what he is lookng for without too much trouble even
if he doesn't know exactly what he is looking for or what the terms to
search on are. The structure and organisation of the help is far more
important than the way it's written.

D2007's help is particularly bad in this respect. As well as being
impossibly slow -- even when restricted to 'Local only' -- it's very badly
organized. For example, if you type a VCL component name as the search term,
you will eventually get a help page for it as one of the first few results,
along with several hundred other results, most of which are arbitrarily
organized properties and methods of the component (and thus redundant since
they already available in the main help entry for the component). And a
fairly high proportion of "See Also" items don't have links to them.

To be fair, context-sensitive help (Ctrl F1) is usable. But it's in the
nature of context-sensitive help that it works only for specific components.
Searching for help on more general topics is usually an exercise in
frustration.

And so on ...

Simon
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