Online vs. Offline help files

Discussion in 'other software & services' started by Keatah, Feb 7, 2013.

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  1. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

    Jan 13, 2011
    How can we reverse the annoying trend of online help files? It seems that more and more software is eliminating local help files in favor of requiring an internet connection to retrieve documentation. What happened to the good old .PDF and .CHM files? What is wrong with continuing to use them?

    I've heard all sorts of excuses such as it takes too much disk space. Or it takes too much bandwidth to download. Another BS excuse is that it is online so it can be updated. Pfffaaagghh! I say. Just get it right in the first place and you won't have to update anything!

    Maybe this is a fad of some kind that I simply fail to understand.
  2. allizomeniz

    allizomeniz Registered Member

    Aug 23, 2009
    A couple of problems with the online ones. First, if you have dialup it takes forever sometimes and you have to dial in every time you wanna look something up, but with more people switching to high-speed that's not as much of an issue. The second, and the one that annoys the hell out of me, is you usually can't search online help. There's just endless links you have to navigate where you may or may not find an answer.

    Whether or not software has a (good) local help file is actually a deciding factor for me. Sometimes, if a product's just so good I have to have it, I'll copy and paste all the web pages into a Word document then make a PDF out of it, but I've only done that once.

    I figure if a software developer is unable see the advantages of a local help file I can live without it. 99% of the time there's something just as good or better right around the corner. :D

    EDIT: I think if they'd start making the online versions searchable, that''d be a big improvement.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2013
  3. Rmus

    Rmus Exploit Analyst

    Mar 16, 2005
    Opera's online Help has a Search tool, and I've found it to be pretty good. I just searched for "plug in settings"


    And received links to several discussions, including a link to the Site Preferences Settings.

  4. safeguy

    safeguy Registered Member

    Jun 14, 2010
    I can think of 1 other reason for the trend...

    Each time there's an update to the program, there's a chance that the offline help needs to be updated to reflect changes. Sometimes the developer forgets or simply miss something. When someone reports to the dev of a discrepancy, the dev can update the help file right away. With online help, there's no need to wait for an update, everyone can access the new help file...

    Not saying one is better than the other. It's all up to the dev,,,
  5. Krysis

    Krysis Registered Member

    Dec 28, 2012
    I think the opposing views are very valid and no doubt depend upon what programs one uses.
    As Safeguy says – updating Help online is easier than offline. However, online has it's issues as well.
    Take for example, Comodo's online Help – because I have my browser security configured as tight as a fishes bum (plus I use Sandboxie) – when I go to the Comodo Help page – I cannot read anything! I have to enable and disable various aspects of my browsers setup to actually read the Help page. This can be a real annoyance when you are in the middle of trying to resolve some issue.
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