January 21, 2008

Community-powered Lightroom help goes live

Ever complained that software documentation kind of sucks*?  (Do you have a pulse?  The correlation seems to be about 1:1.)  We all have, which is why Adobe’s technical writing team has been working to enhance the product docs with community-sourced content.  If you think something could be explained better, jump in and make it so.

Adobe tech writer Anita Dennis passes along the news:

We’re pleased to announce the new Lightroom community help system, which provides core Adobe documentation for Lightroom as well as links to additional learning content from around the web.
 
The new site takes the current online help—LiveDocs—and makes it more useful and interactive. You can still navigate to topics using links the left side of the browser. But now, when you click a topic to read about it, you’ll find a Basics panel with Adobe documentation as well as a Learn More panel that offers links to tutorials, white papers, technical articles, and other instructional content.
 
This site is administered by Adobe, moderated by community experts, and developed with the assistance of a panel of Lightroom Learning Advisors. So you’ll also find links to the moderators’ and advisors’ favorite Lightroom sites, plus links to troubleshooting sites and a page that lists third-party presets, galleries, and extensions.
 
We invite you to visit, comment on our documentation, add links to your favorite tutorials and articles, and share your opinions by commenting on the links that others have posted. And feel free to send feedback on the site to us at lightroom-help-feedback@adobe.com.

If the idea of integrating community knowledge into the apps lights your fire, check out my proposal on the subject.

* I’m not picking on the hardworking Adobe writers: beefs about software docs seem to be pretty universal.  I’ve often wondered why that is, and I think a few factors conspire keep things as they are.  Among them:

  • No one actually wants to RTFM.  We want expertise jacked straight into our heads.  As with photography, driving, or most other pursuits, it’s much easier to buy gear than to learn to use it well.
  • Due to publishing/localization schedules, tech writing staffs are trying to document features as they’re being written, instead of after the dust has settled.  Outside authors tend to write later in the cycle.
  • In-house tech writers have to be as broadly useful as possible.  That means it’s harder for them to pick a tone or approach that’s especially suited to one audience.
Posted by John Nack at 5:17 PM on January 21, 2008
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