Before my trial version of UltraCompare v8.30 came to an end, I was interested to give their on-line help another go, as in a previous article, I criticised UltraCompare for not having local help files. This was followed up by their VP’s comments that online help has lots of advantages. Fair enough but as an average user how does the experience match my expectations?
As you’d expect, help is accessed from the Help>Index (F1) menu item. This opens the help index (contents) web page for UltraCompare. All good so far. I’m interested in looking for help on using Workspace Manager, and this can be found under the ‘Getting Started’->’Workspace Manager’ links or I can use the search facility. Using the links, the page that I want loads in about 5 seconds. Using search lists articles about Workspace Manager and selecting one of these opens the article in a new tab (and also takes about 5 seconds on a fast connection).
I would have to say that the search facility is very good as it provides advanced search options but only after a basic search has been executed. I would prefer to have the advanced options from the outset. I’m also not sure that the page makes best use of available space as the right third is taken up with things you can do with the article, such as subscribe, print, export (PDF or Word) and even Tweet.
I think overall it does work well enough and I dare say that I’d eventually get used to it and maybe even get to like it but mainly for the fact that the content is comprehensive, up-to-date and has a good search facility. Actually, that sounds a bit like a Monte Python “What have the Romans ever done for us?” type statement as surely, that’s all I really need – and I can wait 5 seconds for a page to load if it gives me the information that I want.
The question of ‘What about when I’m working offline?‘ is a moot point for me as it’s a rare occurrence when I’m working with either UEStudio or UC.
For any software company there is the dilemma of balancing the time and cost of producing new help files for each release coupled with having to provide updates or corrections, against satisfying user expectations. To do this for various platforms and in various user languages is, to be honest, a bit of a nightmare. So in conclusion, I appreciate the position IDM Computer Solutions is taking on this mainly because their help system content is very good.
If they continue to work on improving the web page user interface, then even old duffers like me may feel at home with it.