Online Help vs. Offline Help

So I need your opinion: how devastated would you be if your only access to the Windows Mobile 5.0 SDK Documentation was online? By this I mean, you used Visual Studio 2005's Help system, but had it configured to use online help. No internet connection, no documentation.

I mean, did you know that when you download the Pocket PC or Smartphone SDK that you are installing some documentation that can only be viewed in its own window, and can only reached from the Start menu?

Comments (8)
  1. mike says:

    Doesn’t this really depend on who your customers are and how far you want to reach? What percent of the population have internet connections worldwide or what percent of your customers do?

    "No internet connection, no documentation." You don’t always have an internet connection so doesn’t that answer this?

  2. chrisslatt says:

    Devastated. I do a lot of development while disconnected, especially while traveling.

  3. Sean Timm says:

    Me too… I also do a lot of disconnected development, but even when I’m connected, I’ve found that the speed of the online help implementation leaves something to be desired. I changed the defaults to local help because it’s too slow, otherwise.

  4. Kyle McLuckie says:

    Yeah, I know of, and use, the provided offline documentation. Like Chris, I like development portability, and having offline documentation is vital.

  5. In this case, not particularly devastated — I’m not planning on doing any Windows Mobile development any time soon.

    As a general principle, however, I’d be devastated. The Internet’s just not as quick as my hard disk, and I’ve already cursed at the online help mode in C# Express. At some point, I’ll change it back to offline mode.

  6. Peter Foot says:

    I make quite a lot of use of the documentation when not online, but I’m also frustrated that the WM SDK documentation doesn’t integrate with Visual Studio, is about three versions out of date compared with the web version which has had some great updates, and is missing some topics entirely – broken links between topics.

    I’d prefer some sort of compromised solution where you can download regular updates and cache them locally or make WM v5.0 a standard part of the MSDN library quarterly updates.


  7. MSDN Archive says:

    Thanks, I really appreciate these comments.

    I know the Windows Mobile documentation story is "sub-optimal", and believe me, we’re working on improving it.

    Currently we’re looking at all the options available to us. The last thing we want is for our internal processes to be the blocking factor.

    It seems obvious that the Windows Mobile help should just be part of the other Visual Studio documentation doesn’t it? It does to me. As it turns out, making it happen is something else altogether.

  8. Devastated (and pretty unhappy); I do a bit of work disconnected. I’m glad to see you blogging and to hear that this story is being improved.

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