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Hi All,

 Sorry, but this is a rather long email. It's a loose compilation of
answers to the following four questions:

 1) Does anyone EVER look at the pdf documentation? If not, why not?

2) Does anyone EVER click the F1 key for help? If not, why not?

3) Do you see any overall issues concerning the documentation?

4) If the presentation of the documentation were to change to make it more
useful, what would it look like?

 I've compiled them in a more easily readable format (rather than being
spread out over many emails) so that anyone can read through them quickly,
more easily see if anything is missing, and, as I said before, even repeat
what is already there. Again, I don't mind the repetition. Repetition only
adds weight to the answers. In other words, if you have something to say,
please say it.

 Thanks for all the responses already given.

 The following is compiled in no particular order.

(If you're going to respond, could you do so in a manner so that your
responses are easy to distinguish from other text. Email can look so
muddled here sometimes. Not sure how you can do that. Just a thought.



 1) Does anyone EVER look at the pdf documentation? If not, why not?

 I've been ignoring PDFs as much as possible; I dislike the way these make
it next to impossible to add responses, save in some usable form …

 1. I seldom look at the PDF documentation. Mostly I find what I need
through the F1 key, and also because I forget it's there until I go
searching for an answer online. I'll also go to the PDF when I'm trying to
understand an entire concept (like styles, which still are winning the

 What PDF documentation?

I can only speak for myself, I don't know what others do, but for programs
or devices that require documentation, I download the pdf file and print it
out, and put the document into a 3-ring binder dedicated to that
application. I would sincerely hope that the file would have an excellent
index. I am much more comfortable with paper documentation that I can have
in front of me while I am looking at the program on screen, or the physical

1) Yes, I have used the pdf documentation from time to time, but don't
often have need to. Normally, only if I have a problem, which might occur
when I'm trying something new and unfamiliar; but most of the time I am
just using LO for the old and familiar! My first action in such a case
would be to check the menus; if I can't find what I need there, I try
searching more widely. It's not always easy to find what I want in a large
document, though; but it's definitely comforting to know it's there, in
case, and it has at times been useful.

 I do use the Pdfs from the "Published Guides" pages. The main advantage is
that the index and chapter headings and such are all "clickable" to get me
to the correct topic very quickly.

I take Anne-ology's point about them being troublesome to add notes to (or
to copy chunks from) but the Pdfs are also in Odt format.

 PDF? I'm not sure I know where to look for LO documentation in this

F1? I use it often. It needs to be compartmenalized (Calc, Writer, Math,
Macro interface [UNO], ...) Its installation also needs to be better
integrated into the LO installation process.

HTML? I occasionally wander into this maze though I'm not sure how I get
there. I guess it's via a link someone posts on this list.

2) Does anyone EVER click the F1 key for help? If not, why not?

 yes, but nary receive a response which answers my question(s)

 Depending upon various factors, when pressing F1, one of five things
will happen:

1) Nothing happens;
# This happens when the help file is not installed;
# This happens when the program can not connect to the Internet;
2) A webpage somewhere on the Internet gets opened, and displayed;
# This happens when the help file is not installed;
3) The Index Page of the built-in help opens;
# When the help file in the appropriate language is installed, this is the
usual, and expected responose;
4) A random page from the built-in help is displayed;
# This does not occur frequently enough to me, to guess as to what is
causing this effect; 5) A page in an "unknown" language is displayed;
# This occurs when the help file in the language that LibO is configured
for, is not installed, but the help file in a different language is

 A separate issue is the contents of the built in help file.

For some things, the help is current, and accurate.
For other things, the information is not just out of date, but will have
the opposite effect of what one intended.

I use the F1 key all the time. I came to LO after using Windows since it
was created and F1 is the first thing I do to get help on any program. It's
nice when it's context-sensitive, but just going to the built-in help is

 It seems to me, the easiest way to get to help for Calc (for example) is
to google my problem and add "libre office calc" to the query.

If I had to guess, my guess is that most people trying to use LO do not
know about finding help under the F1 key. In my experience many (but not
all) programs that claim to provide help do not answer the question that
brought the user to the help screen. Either the help documentation is too
sparse, or it is poorly indexed, or perhaps both.

 2) I might think of doing this -- BUT: I use LO mainly on a machine
without internet connection, having downloaded elsewhere and ported on a
memory stick or similar. I believe that the help needs to be downloaded
separately from the application, and I don't always remember to download
the help along with the application, so this method doesn't always work for

The strongest informal links seem to be between the International
Translators and the 'in-built' help teams. As a result it seems that the
'in-built' help is fantastic in all languages except English. The English
version might be a little geeky, or "too perfect" or something else that
native English Speakers might find irksome. Anyway the main point is that
it translates VERY well - so, many thanks to all involved!! :)))

 I rarely use the in-built help but when i have it has usually been
excellent. I am a bit of an aspie so maybe that helped - or maybe it is
just that the 'in-built' help is just excellent anyway. I've never had a
problem with the 'in-built' help, except that sometimes i need more detail
and hand-holding to help me through something i really didn't understand -
so i went to the Published Guides or googled-it (err, or duck-duckj-go'd
it) to get the extra bit i needed.

I'm a Calc user on Windows and on Linux. I use the Function Wizard to find
function names by category and F1 to get the specifics as to the meaning of
the function parameters. The examples are not always very well thought out
in terms of being very practical.

I would write and use macros a good bit more if there were good
documentation on the subject through F1. I'd like to see links to an on
line tutorial on Star Basic and one or more tutorials on the concepts of
UNO and how to get started using it. At least one tutorial should NOT
assume that the reader has a degree in computer programming.

3) Do you see any overall issues concerning the documentation?

 what documentation?

 If LO, then I think they could now eliminate their PP since videos are
much nicer; easier to use & share

 If anything, videos should be an additional component. As far as easy to
use goes, that is true if, and only if they are:
* Audio Captioned;
* Either Open Captioned or Closed Captioned;
* Have built in bookmarks;

3. Most of the time I'm using any documentation it's via the F1 key (or the
menu equivalent, if I already have my fingers on the trackpad) and I'm
usually coming from a spreadsheet, looking for the parameters for a
specific function. This is one of the few areas where in my experience MS
Office is actually superior to LO; in MSO the functions are grouped better
for ease in finding what you're looking for (arithmetic functions, logical
functions, etc.). In the LO help you often have to know what function you
want to use, even if what you're looking for is what function fits your
current need -- like having to know how to spell a word before you can look
up its spelling in the dictionary.

 3) Some thoughts. The documents are long; there must be a way to rapidly
identify and get to the appropriate section. If there are too many large
graphics, it makes scrolling through the document an arduous process;
graphics should be used only where they really clarify something in the
text, and should not be larger than necessary to achieve such
clarification. Ease of use should always trump prettiness. This is a
comment about documentation in general; the above comments may already be
addressed in LO doc, it's a long time since I've looked, and my memory's
not too great!

 Well, I am a user and definitely NOT a computer specialist. As such, I
ALWAYS encounter this one particular "problem": "What is the
thing/situation I am struggling with called in technical
(help file) terms?" If you do not know what to ask, it is VERY difficult to
find the answers
in any form of documentation.

So, my "wish": include some form of cross referencing, that will allow you
to find your answer, even if you do not know the exact name of the thing
you are looking for. Something like: question = how to set an indent? May
also want to look at: paragraph, formatting, alignment, etc. .....
(preferable with links to the relevant sections).

I like the embedded help because it's quicker to use. Also, in good
traditional fashion, I pretty much expect it to be updated more frequently
than a printed manual, even if that manual is in electronic format.

4) If the presentation of the documentation were to change to make it more
useful, what would it look like?

probably something very complicated; every time, I've heard 'user friendly'
things become more complicated & frustrating.

 4a. Some have suggested videos. Personally, while I have no trouble with
either my vision or my hearing, I hate the trend toward doing everything on
videos. They take longer than reading, they annoy other people in the
office, and usually they're not the best choice for what I need at the
time. They might be useful for longer topics (like those blasted styles),
but not for syntax questions, for example.

4b. My preference is for a manual's information to be available locally.
I'm not always in a location with Internet access, and sometimes I turn off
my modem because I don't want any new mail downloaded (I have 18 mailboxes
to manage, and if I close the email program before I check them all then
the new messages are no longer flagged as new; unread isn't a sufficient

I've periodically looked at creating video documentation, and realized that
it is much simpler, and easier, to create a PDF, than to create the video.

Once upon a time (remember I've been around since the days of Hollerith
cards and paper tapes), there were two types of manuals: User Manuals and
Reference Manuals. The user manuals were more conceptual and tutorial,
helping people learn how to use a program (yes, I still call them programs
rather than apps -- apps are for mobile devices, which I don't use for
computing; I still talk about directories instead of folders, too). The
reference manuals were just that -- details about the various commands,
functions, subroutines, etc. The reference manual aspect is what I really
look for in the embedded help. The user manual is what I tend to go to the
PDF version to find.

To me, "user friendly" would match following criteria:

+ complete
+ up to date
+ online
+ with option to download and use locally
+ context sensitive
+ multi language
+ user commentable
+ with option to hide comments
+ with "helpful/not helpful" rating enabled
+ with option to show top rated comments first

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