Not Loathing the community forums anymore

@Locis can always edit the topic title and make it softer or some thing like “Fourm vs Help Center”, … but ya’ gotta admit it’s getting high traffic.

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Nice work on the Wiki Manual Dan.

Thank you.

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Thanks Steve. That was all manually compiled. I wonder if the SketchUp User Guides could be “scraped” with a Javascript utility to autocompile an index.

The Dr. Explain utility (that POSH GmbH points above) even claims to be able to “scrape” the application UI for index terms.

My eyes started crossing for a while here, so I haven’t read all the comments. But instead of doing online help, I just went to the local bookstore (Barnes & Noble) and got on the the “Idiot’s Guides” to SU. Lots of well-indexed info, tips that aren’t necessarily in the official SU pages (owuldn’t be surprised if a bunch came from here) and don’t need to sit at the computer to read up on things.

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Dan, to be honest, I have no idea what you are talking about. But I do like the manual. :grin:
I haven’t actually used it yet but I might have to start. I need to brush up some of my SketchUp skills after mucking around with Houdini for the last 12 months. Houdini is an awesome program, but I still love SketchUp for reasons only SketchUp users share I guess. So I’m currently doing the SketchUp Landscape Design course (Trimble) which has been pretty good so far.

Cheers mate.

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I agree to a certain extent. It would be extremely helpful if there was a cataloged help that got to someone who has developed the software we all love and pay for. And it should not matter if we bought it from Trimble, or the education arm that delivers the products to students, educators and schools. I have had issues as an educator, where I have asked a question to contacts that I have since SketchUp was owned by atLast and Google and they always tell me that they cannot help me, that I have to go back to where I got it from, and they are never any help. We need dedicated help services, either by phone, email or chat session.

I do also think that people’s experience with the software is a tremendous ally to all of us through the use of the forums. The hard part is knowing how to and or look for to help solve your issue.

Peace Out!!!

As a frequent user and sometimes more technical than comfortable with, especially with some plug-ins, I see an exhaustively compiled reference volume as a much better way to also introduce third party elements - the tool tip often usually follows a sequence and so a given action would have it’s respective page and then a drop down menu [searchable without needing to have it dropped down] would list a plug-in being used to take things from there, it would be in context and the core elements would be the backbone upon which user maintained additions to the basic functioning could be included - the option to view it online or download, or order a printed volume is just personal preference, but if anything existed with such a comprehensive reach into all aspects of SU, that totality would/should/could be the answer to this forum thread…

@Locis thanks for starting this thread. As has already been said, the title is very misleading and the initial tone hard to react to calmly. The thread has definitely evened out and your intent become more clear, to which I encourage you to consider re-titling this thread something more specific. All that being said…

Hi. I’m the single point of frustration for managing the Help Center (as well as the forum). If there is someone to tar and feather about what sucks about either of these things, that’d be me. (This is not an invitation.) I’ll be honest, I haven’t spent much time looking at this thread as… based on the title and initial post, it didn’t seem like it was much more than a venting session, I didn’t even notice it until I saw repeated flags for inappropriate behaviour, all of which were resolved BY the community and resulting in several of your posts being hidden. I shan’t linger on those, nor on your initial tone, as it’s already been dealt with. I will try to look at your feedback, critical though it may be, to try to help improve what we have.

As I see it, there are 4 real complaints, in no particular order:

  • You don’t want to have to use the forum (community) to answer questions, you want this all provided in something more direct.
  • You think we should have an index in the Help Center where you can easily find a tool and click a link to learn how to use it.
  • You think that our Help Center search is terrible.
  • You think our Help Center is “unprofessional”

"Don’t want to use the forum" - I will start with my acknowledgement that yes, we all have different ways we want to learn things and it can be frustrating if it seems there is only one way to do it. That being said, that initial complaint is unfair of the forum. This forum is awesome, I say this with as little bias as possible. For as long as there has been a SketchUp, there have been amazing users coming to share and learn in our forums. To suggest that this is inadequate will get you the response you’ve seen. This community might be TOO amazing, and I’ll admit that I can lean on them for figuring things out or answering questions not in the Help Center. I’ll return to the community later, but just want to say, you should not need to rely on them if you don’t want to. We have a Help Center, we have YouTube, we have the SketchUp Campus, we have the Instructor within SketchUp itself and we have this forum.

"Help Center needs and Index" - This is an interesting request, and not one that hasn’t been considered nor one that has it been dismissed. My initial reasoning for not including that in the Help Center is that this is all built into SketchUp directly in the Instructor. As has been mentioned above, if you select the tool (Move as an example you provided) then you can look in the bottom status bar and all shortcuts will be provided at a glance. If you need to dig deeper, open the Instructor (Window > Instructor) it will show a brief animation displaying it’s use, a description of its use and again, the shortcuts. At the end of this is a link to “learn about more advanced operations” taking you to the Help Center article. While I won’t say I can’t add an Index, the hope has always been “Answer the question quickly IN PRODUCT, move to the Help Center for more abstract or advanced concepts.”

"Help Center Search Sucks" - I have no excuses here, it is weak and unfortunately not a quick, simple nor cheap fix. I can offer that I am actively investigating solutions but that doesn’t make it work better for you today. As mentioned by others, having some “Google Fu” can help, if you don’t get the search results you want within the Help Center you can always go to Google and do a search eg. [site:help.sketchup.com move tool] Some history by way of explanation, when we were at Google we had the joy of being embedded in their search for our Help Center, this even carried over to our new hosted solution once we were Trimble, but around 2013-2014 Google stopped allowing others to use their search. When we implemented our current solution, we were left to use the Search that comes with our platform… it is not strong. Again, I’m investigating better search solutions.

"Help Center is Unprofessional" - This point I saved for last, simply because I’m not sure what you mean. You say it repeatedly in your posts, so it’s obviously important to you. Maybe it just means “I’m frustrated with search, how can a professional company have such frustrating search” to which I agree, I too am frustrated. If you’re suggesting that the quality of the Help Center is unprofessional, I take some offense as much work has gone into creating and maintaining the content we have. As I mentioned at the start, I am the Help Center… me. I have a technical writer who I believe is amazing, she was the editor for the SketchUp for Dummies book (meaning she is a professional editor and technical writer whose specialty has been making advanced & technical topics more accessible to the layman. I am a fan of her style, and please with how she has helped me to create a tone in the Help Center that doesn’t alienate a user for not being a technical expert. I consider her very professional. The tone I have selected for the Help Center is the embodiment of “SketchUppy” meaning it can be playful, but also educational.

At this point my post has gotten very long, so I’ll wrap it up. I do want to thank the community for keeping this post “on target” and for not getting too emotional in their responses. I feel like I’m not really coming here and saying anything knew, as everyone did a great job explaining. My takeaway as the owner of this “product” is that some folks want a PDF/Book to read, some want the forum, and that we ALL want better search. Hopefully this thread has helped you @Locis as well as any others understand what learning/troubleshooting resources are available. I invite everyone to visit our Category for Reporting a Problem with the Help Center if you have specific feedback as well.

One last comment, while I am the product owner for the Help Center and Forum, I’m not always in here answering questions. Additionally, as the beauty of this community is it’s people, I encourage you to spend your time and thoughts posting to the forum rather than to me directly. The response may be faster and the answer truer, at the very least it gives everyone a chance to add their thoughts as well.

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@jody, on reading your response my mind wandered to a page full of tool icons for both web and desktop apps, that were hot-links to the help articles…

john

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@john_drivenupthewall That’s how I was viewing it too. In fact, we have that, sort of, in the book for SketchUp Web right now.

I’ve started a page for Desktop akin to this, though I’m not sure I’m in love with the format. At the very least, it would be it’s own page. I would also like to dig deeper into ALL articles that might be affected by it, for example, the Polygon tool would likely point to several articles.

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I think if you consult the overwhelming support videos on UTube you can learn or solve most problems. I can certainly relate as far as the FAQ forums were and are a nightmare to find anything when on a tight deadline. I never understood companies that only have those as resources? Like designers gave hours to give up pawing through all those files!!! I think Forums like this one are much better and most of the people 98% are very professional and overwhelmingly ready to help. Just don’t critic the program itself!

I will admit that my earlier opinion was based on past experiences. The system has improved with time and the refinements of regular use. The narrative and video based solutions are still a distraction but I am trying to learn how to sit through them. I would prefer a critical path diagram or anything animated instead of following someone else’s mouse around.

Thank you https://forums.sketchup.com/u/jody
for your very professional response, that is also something that did not happen much in the not so distant past.

So there is hope for it to get even better.
It is truly good to be acknowledged by anything corporate or tech based these days, Bravo!

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“If anyone knows of another program that does similar work I would love to hear about it. I really want to leave this clown show behind and use a professionally documented and maintained program.”

Hi Lee Keiser, (Locis)

If your discipline is Architecture/Construction then try:-

https://www.bricsys.com/en-intl/shape/

or

http://www.formz.com/products/formzfree.html

Both free, so whats not to like?

As for SU-Pro-2019, its’ muted release certainly didn’t go down well with its users, who knows where the direction of the product is headed ? The dashed lines addition was a long awaited update item, but turned out to be quite odd indeed the way SU HQ implemented it. I’ve now seen an extension called:-

DPLinestyler

Which initially looks far superior.

I do like using SU-Pro, but seems of late as though the SU programming gurus have left the building, lets hope they return for SU-Pro-2020.

And yes, I forgot, SU did use to have a proper user manual, that was back in the day from the original developers, @LAST-SOFTWARE. I think the pdf manual was downloadable for sometime when GOOGLE where the owners, but can’t recall when the pdf manual stopped being produced.

I wouldn’t mind seeing a return of a properly written manual in pdf file format, TRIMBLE only appear to have online help guides as link below.

https://help.sketchup.com/en/sketchup/sketchup

Over & out,
CJT1963

What support are you looking for exactly?

Many programs rely on forums where the team itself is active. Rhino for instance.
Then there is e-mail support. Local channel partners (like us) also are available by phone.

We use FAQs. FAQs are very useful for … Answers to questions we otherwise would give hundreds of times a day. It is the low hanging fruit for getting wise quickly. But apparently you are beyond that point of wisdom.

Final thought: have you had professional training?

Cheers, Orlando

@Locis I apologize, it was pointed out to me that a different user was the one being flagged and their posts collapsed, not you. I appreciate the civility you’ve maintained through what I imagine started as a frustrated post for you. I’m sorry for any confusion that may have caused.

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That doesn’t seem right to me. I think that I’ve asked way more than 2 questions and not received answers. Perhaps I’ve asked them in the replies of others or done something else wrong.

That’s precisely how CadStd’s Help works.
All in one little 116 KB folder of HTML files installed within the application.
When you hit F1 in CadStd, the Help page for the active tool opens in a blink.

There’s also a 125-page PDF User’s Guide and a 6-chapter HTML tutorial, all within the application.


How is it that a development team consisting of one man can come up with such useful things?

Whereas Trimble, with 11,500 employees and revenues of $3.1 billion publishes volumes of gaseous derp hidden behind a search engine that, you know, “sucks” for three years running.


Cad Standard HTML Help

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