AutoCAD Help suckage to continue – confirmed

AutoCAD Help suckage to continue – confirmed

In a recent post on Between the Lines, Shaan passed on the following response from the AutoCAD Team:

There has been some recent discussions about the built-in help system in AutoCAD 2013, both positive and some criticism.  As our longtime users know, AutoCAD help has been through many evolutions.

We are particularly proud of the new AutoCAD 2013 online learning environment we recently released (AutoCAD Online Help Mid-Year Updates.) This update addressed several user requested fixes and changes, and we will continue to take our direction from our user’s feedback.

We do recognize that the online learning environment may not be the solution for every user, so while we are focused on creating a rich and personalized online experience, we will continue to maintain our current basic offline experience.

(The emphasis is mine). This statement, although couched in marketingspeak, confirms what I’ve had to say on the subject. Here’s my translation into plain English:

AutoCAD 2013 Help sucked, the customers said so, the recent update improved matters somewhat for online users, but the awful old system stays in place for offline users. The offline system is in maintenance mode, and the experience will continue to remain basic (i.e. it will suck long-term).

There’s no mention of correcting this situation; it’s clearly a matter of policy rather than some unfortunate accident.

Today, I was using Autodesk Navisworks Manage 2013. As you might expect from an Autodesk product, it’s powerful but unstable. In addition to the lockups and crashes, it has various bugs and annoyances. In looking for a way of working around one of the annoyances, I delved into the Help system. Strangely enough, this product (much younger than AutoCAD) uses something that looks remarkably like an old-fashioned CHM-based Help system. It worked offline. It was quick. It had contents, search and index tabs, and they worked on a Windows 7 64-bit system. It had a hierarchical structure and a breadcrumb bar that helped me understand the context of what I was reading. Using it was, in short, a breath of fresh air.

Memo to Autodesk: if you’re going to try to make online Help look good by mangling offline help, you’re going to have to do this to all your products at once to make it remotely convincing.


    1. R. Paul Waddington

      Shaan’s a corporate voice, what he says he believes. No he would not hate issuing the statements; if he did, a single trait would prevent him from doing so.
      At no time should any quarter be given to Autodesk or any person within Autodesk who backs, even in small portions, the stupidity we have witnessed in relation to their product development.
      The changes in Autodesk’s help discussed here have highlighted just how out of touch Autodesk employees/contractors are in relation to the application of their products.
      A prime example is Dieter’s statement about having not thought of making his Hitchhikers guide “clickable”.
      In this day and age that which Autodesk staff say, says more about what lacks than what it understood as fact.

  1. James Maeding

    I guess what I find interesting is how few ungineers learn to program and bridge the gaps. There are huge vacuums in Civil at least, especially the idea of BIM objects. I can go down the list of bottlenecks in production processes, and I might see 1 out of 20 people that even try to learn lisp and .net. So to see Autodesk also neglect things seems right in line with their customers.The odd thing is to watch Autodesk do things wrong that take the same effort to do right. That means they don’t know who to trust.

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