Thursday, March 17, 2011

Unhelpful “Help”

I am talking about the tab Help in a particular computer application or what comes once you press F1 on your computer keyboard. At times, you get such amazing help from this tab that you actually can make a nuclear weapon without any prior knowledge about what is 'nuclear' and what is 'weapon'. But at times, it does NOT help you AT ALL. You keep on keying in all keywords to search for the criteria or run through the entire Index table but it does not respond, apart from "No matching items found". On such occasions, even if you try to search for Nuclear Weapon definition in its very own Help manual, you will end up getting results like "Clean and Clear" L
Now, don't go by the literal example of nuclear weapon and one of the biggest PJ of clean and clear (I am just too furious today with this feature and so you have this example coming in from me)… The day at office started with my boss introducing his idea of giving the front end designed page for all the new services for which we give SRS to our development team, by creating the forms/pages in HTML, thus saving their effort in coding for such forms. He showed me some websites where we can create such HTML pages within five minutes. He also suggested a freeware where we can import such HTML pages and link it to some database, which could be really helpful for our development team in reducing their efforts. He suggested me to do some R&D on that freeware using the HELP to do such linking.
Happily I designed the forms with all my creativity, imported them to this freeware and started playing around with various buttons and options. I was playing around since I assumed that whenever I would get stuck, F1 will help me out. So till then I must put in my genuine efforts to learn this petty freeware. Finally the time came when I had to press F1 and believe me or not, I have spent almost 2.5 hours on that tab and had not got even one single meaningful information out of it….!!!
Have typed the keywords in all permutations and combinations, have gone through the entire Index, Glossary and Content table… have lost my precious forms created almost 5 times… had tediously designed them in this very freeware… have discovered such features which I never intended to BUT not what I was searching for… On top that, I know that whatever I am searching for will turn out to be the simplest feature to be implemented and then I will bang my head on this monitor…
This post could have been much shorter than this but since I don't want to go back to that HELP and I need some break, I am putting in more time and lines in this post…


  1. Microsoft products have very good help feature and it is one of the factors that helps people learn more quickly. There are only very few other companies that think about providing good help documents along with their software. So if one has used MS products mainly Windows OS, expectations are high from the F1 key...
    Btw, if anything is provided 'free', u can't complain :)

  2. Hi Mohan, it seems that either you are a Microsoft employee or are an ardent fan of MS products... i anyways agree that MS products have amazing Help features.. but when your luck is not favouring you, that day even this help becomes unhelpful :P


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