May 11, 2007

Helping the Help: Photoshop now on LiveDocs

The Help files that ship with Adobe products seem to catch a lot of slings and arrows from users.  There are some fair points to be made, and one small team of writers can never be as specific, detailed, or personable as the many third-party books out there.  This is especially true when the Adobe writers are trying to finish their work far in advance of shipping the product, in order to have time to localize the content into multiple languages.

The reality is that the people using the apps day in and day out (y’know, real customers) are likely to have plenty of good ideas and info to contribute. Recognizing this, the documentation team is now publishing the help content via LiveDocs–the user-editable Web publishing system rolled out by Macromedia. This has two important results:

  • Adobe help content is now accessible via search engines.  So, even if you think the Help menu is made of Kryptonite and prefer to look for documentation online, high-ranking hits from the Adobe materials can be found there.
  • More interestingly, the content is open to comments from users. On this page, for example, user Shangara Singh asks for clarification about noise reduction in Camera Raw, drawing a reply from the documentation team.  Elsewhere people can flesh out topics, add tips, and so forth.  I plan to do so myself in a few spots.

Like most things, this is just one step, but I really like the direction of baking more community into our apps.  Whether it’s help content, scripts, palettes, or anything else, we have to get out of the business of Adobe trying to do everything & make it easier for people with the know-how to share it with one another.  More thoughts on that to follow.

6:04 PM | Permalink | Comments [4]
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