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R21: reenable internal Help-system?

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Oh, it's all looking slightly messed up. If you've got your help online - it's definitely in some kind of database. It could be read both on the server or in the C4D. Let the online help be more up to date, let it be frequently updated (can't get why do we need that, but ok), but simply once you roll out the update - backup you datebase, zip it and send to us. It's THAT EASY!

If you've got your internal help as a bunch of separate htmls - ok, there's a workaround too, you can generate them from the DB and zip it once you've decided to push it as update.

You're doing so advanced things on such a level! I can't believe you've got no staff to implement it. It seems like somebody's will to screw it up

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1 hour ago, RBarrett said:


Ok feedback received. How about displaying relevant Cineversity tutorials? Not making this a free-for-all but providing a few curated pathways to additional MAXON-managed resources.


Everfresh could have typed the response for me : )  -  I'm perfectly happy to have that additional option as long as it doesn't detract or interfere with the core info  - and that it's clearly separated from that info, not all jumbled up together.

The sort of help info I typically need is:  What does 'parameter A' do?  -  or some other very focused bit of info.  I need the info I want, quickly and accurately to get the job out of the door. For me, Cineversity fulfuills a different role: it's for when I want to explore or discover a new feature or toolset in more depth - and I have the time to watch and absorb a longer video or playlist. Hence the need to keep these two routes clearly separated.

I noted your comment about the current difficulty of incorporating user reported typos, inaccuracies etc - and your efforts to enable the integration of that input. I'd very much like to see that improved. If you could enable an easier route for user contributions that would be a very good thing. I'm not talking about directly accessible user content here, but about submitting content to yourselves that you could review, consolidate and consider for your next 'documentation update'.

I guess my ideal solution would be an online system  that gives you the ability to make continuous updates, corrections etc - but  one that would allow the user to download a local copy (of the core info - similar to  R20) at any time of their choosing for local off-line help. This could then be updated by downloading a revised copy of the help as and when the user felt necessary - and when they had good connectivity to do so.


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PS: Re the "with our limited resources" comment...
Prime users will soon be paying 'studio' level subs, perpetual 'studio' users could be facing a 50% increase in upgrade cost next year, you're telling us you're going to have all these new renters coming on board...   OK, maybe I shouldn't have opened that particular can.... ; )

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On 9/5/2019 at 7:39 AM, RBarrett said:

Two questions -


Which would you choose id offered the choice between offline help in its R20 form and online only help that can be more frequently and easily updated, integrates video tutorials and community links, and perhaps even moderated community contributions?


If the help was still online only (and with the benefits above) but within a dockable window would that suit your needs?


I realize some have offline limitations but it would help a lot of you'd consider whether offline help is really necessary in your situation. I'd absolutely love to be able to move in both directions (and maybe we can), but getting a clear picture of priorities will help us determine the best way to use our limited resources.



(Writing this without having read the upcoming posts, sorry in advance for duplicates 😀)


Well, personally I liked the help very much as it was in the past. In a dockable window (so I can keep it in the foreground if needed) and offline so it is fast, reliable (in case I cannot get internet), and independent.


The primary usecase for that is: looking up a parameter. What does it do; is it what I think it is; what is it limited to; what was changed in which version. Usually that is solved by a short and concise text and maybe an image or two. I rarely need videos or "community contributions" for that. The help in R20 and before gloriously solved that.


To be clear, it's a help system. It is not a forum; it is not a tutorial series; it is not an introduction to 3D. While all of these may be useful if linked, it's not what I need in a help system about 99% of the time. I may want the 1%, but I can live with it being online and occasionally not available and just linked into the WWW.


As far as updates are concerned, I wonder how often that would happen. New features would need updates naturally; error corrections would require updates; improved help would be good to be updated. All of these can be published during a release. Everything else is not going to be updated very often, if past experience is an indicator. Or needed to be updated. Again, it's a help system not a forum. It doesn't need to contain live discussion threads. The central information I expect from a help system should be there together with the functionality it refers to.


Really, it's not as if I would be against added content in the help. Far from it. But if the price is that the essentials get online'd and therefore are sometimes out of reach when I urgently need them, the price is too high to pay.


Oh, speaking of videos. These are not, perhaps, hosted on Cineversity? Because someone cancelled my MSA and I am losing Cineversity access shortly because of that. Which makes any additional video content completely useless for me anyway. And should the help contain any essential videos (so essential that I would like to have them available offline too) that also are moved to Cineversity (Vimeo) as a server, then I am short of content here. Hope that is not the case.


Now, it's not that the help is written in HTML directly (a simple look at the sources confirms that). MAXON is using a content management system obviously, and that should easily make it possible to differentiate between internal/local and external/online links.

The easiest way of solving the issue is: C4D contains a jump point in its preferences which is a base URL where the help content is located. The user can install the help offline and set the jump point to this local installation; or if they are okay with online only, they can leave it pointing at the MAXON servers for online help.

Then, the content management system uses links relative to the jump point for all essential linkage in the help. Everything else, like you said, community content or tutorials or even late add-ons, can be kept as external/online links to be updated live. It's not core material so I bet everybody would be okay with it being online. And you would have the best of both worlds, the core stuff offline and always at hand, and the add-ons online and always current.


Oh, and while I'm at it. Cineversity. Yes I see that it takes time and money to upkeep, and all. And everything that is seen as an investment is jealously guarded.

But Cineversity probably hasn't made much additional money for MAXON (yes I know, it's MAXON US so there is maybe some conflict in ownership...) as the access has been given away for C4D MSA holders for free for years now, and in the future all the coveted subscription owners will also get it as an add-on. And right now it is causing issues because Perpetual license holders are going to be cut off (because, y'know, someone cancelled all the MSAs). And it's not really living up to its full potential.


Here's a revolutionary suggestion (you're not going to like it):


Make it public.


Yep, public as in no loger protected like the crown jewels. It is an add-on to C4D. It is being taken for granted by many C4D owners by now. Some of the really valuable content (like all those Siggraph talks) is put on YouTube anyway for free. And it's not that useful for third parties - who'd want to steal it, except maybe software pirates who can do it anyway no matter how many locks and trapfalls you put on it. Or holders of a perpetual license who are no longer updating... but hey, a little generosity towards them would go a long way too. With current tech, undesired deep links from other people's sites should not be a big issue either.


A lot of issues would just disappear. A user could download a tutorial and watch it at the beach (where they don't have internet connection) without jumping through hoops first. Perpetual holders would be happy again (at least as far as that point is concerned). You can link the tuts from the online help with no further thought on access regulation (and, I guess, many less browser errors). And who knows, maybe someone who's currently using some different software would watch a C4D tutorial and decide, "wow I really like the way Cinema is doing things, I guess I try a subscription for a month or two and have a looky whether this is a program for me". Acquiring new customers, and such.


Yeah, you're not going to do that, I know. But one can dream.


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