Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 13th Aug 2017 13:26 UTC
Mac OS X

I spend an inordinate amount of time searching for information about macOS. Whether I am researching the answers for my section in MacFormat magazine, or trying to solve my own problems here, I am also daily reminded of Apple's wholesale failure to provide consistent and complete documentation of its flagship product.

The idea you would donate an inordinate amount of time and effort for free to the richest company in the world to perform work they ought to be doing is wholly and completely baffling to me.

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Power users have been doing this for ages
by CaptainN- on Sun 13th Aug 2017 16:04 UTC
CaptainN-
Member since:
2005-07-07

Power users have been doing this for ages. Especially Windows users. I guess maybe they like the polished commercial operating systems more than the comparatively clunky UX of open source (this is less true these days than it used to be), but if you are going to spend that much time digging into the system, why not spend it on an open source platform, and contribute somewhere where it might be useful!

Reply Score: 5

Yup
by owczi on Sun 13th Aug 2017 16:08 UTC
owczi
Member since:
2009-11-04

See, Thom, the same problem applies to the iPhone as well, and in fact most other "modern" software products, OSes and environments. You buy (into) a system where the UI is non-intuitive (design patterns where workable UI elements are not clearly distinguished from decoration or content), and there is no bloody documentation for it! I'm not a teenager anymore with near-infinite amounts of time to spend to discover every nook and cranny. I want somewhere I can click that will tell me what this thing can do. And if even the UI isn't documented, not having the internals of an OS, it's service subsystem, network stack, etc. documented is really infuriating. This is why people produce and sell eBooks on these topics, and it's never the vendors. I spend most of my time in the CLI, and I still mostly do what I used to do fifteen years ago, and I keep discovering new tools and new bash completion libraries popping up, mostly by accident. It used to be that when you produce a new version of a software product, you list the changes and new features on multiple levels of detail - technical and usability. Nowadays, 90% of app updates in the app store of your choice only say "bug fixes and improvements". That pretty much tells me "we've just had another embarrassing security hole fixed" or "we just pushed another version out just to remind you about this app you have and perhaps have you open it to see some ads". The scale of new content and drive for "revolutionary" new features just kills it. Vendors abandon services and applications and features on a whim. You are on your own. I effectively do other vendors' QA for a job, so that their new s/w doesn't kill our production systems. What this project is doing is morally wrong i.e. Apple should be doing this, but this kind of work is often all we have left. When you search for an overview of the next xOS update, you hardly ever end up on the vendor's site - you end up on some tech site doing this for them. It's a sick word, I tell you. Wha[ can we do? This, or nothing. Mostly nothing.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Yup
by Sidux on Wed 16th Aug 2017 06:08 UTC in reply to "Yup"
Sidux Member since:
2015-03-10

Try to explain this to all the specialists and online influencers today that tell people that good software is intuitive and it does not need documentation.
It's about money in the end. Companies today hardly budget qa department for everything they push out the door let alone have dedicated people for documenting it. This tends to fall under developers responsibility.

Reply Score: 1

undocumented - the norm
by yerverluvinunclebert on Sun 13th Aug 2017 16:38 UTC
yerverluvinunclebert
Member since:
2014-05-03

Windows is largely undocumented. There are teams of people trying to determine how and why Windows functions as it does. Some of them looking for ways to exploit undocumented windows function, some to allow their software to operate in a similar fashion to that of Microsoft. Some do it in order to clone/copy Windows functionality. We use Windows every day but have you ever seen a manual? My old IBM PC 5150 used to have those lovely hessian bound manuals that demonstrated MS-DOS and all its individual commands inside-out.

Reply Score: 6

RE: undocumented - the norm
by ilovebeer on Sun 13th Aug 2017 18:27 UTC in reply to "undocumented - the norm"
ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

Why would you expect a manual to accompany a product that is centered around point&click?

Reply Score: 0

RE: undocumented - the norm
by owczi on Sun 13th Aug 2017 20:45 UTC in reply to "undocumented - the norm"
owczi Member since:
2009-11-04

That is true - the ReactOS folks know this better than anyone else.

I used to have a Texas Instruments laptop - TI TravelMate LT286. It came with TI's spring-bound manuals for everything it came with - DOS, LapLink, etc.

Reply Score: 2

RE: undocumented - the norm
by tylerdurden on Mon 14th Aug 2017 06:15 UTC in reply to "undocumented - the norm"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

If you think Windows is largely undocumented, I think that may have more to do with the fact that probably you've never developed for that platform and are unaware that things like MSDN exist.

Reply Score: 6

yerverluvinunclebert Member since:
2014-05-03

If you think Windows is largely undocumented, I think that may have more to do with the fact that probably you've never developed for that platform and are unaware that things like MSDN exist.
If you don't know that Windows is still largely undocumented then you need to gen. up. It isn't what documentation exists, it is the documentation that does not exist that defines what is missing.

Edited 2017-08-14 08:19 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: undocumented - the norm
by Megol on Mon 14th Aug 2017 10:07 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: undocumented - the norm"
Megol Member since:
2011-04-11

"If you think Windows is largely undocumented, I think that may have more to do with the fact that probably you've never developed for that platform and are unaware that things like MSDN exist.
If you don't know that Windows is still largely undocumented then you need to gen. up. It isn't what documentation exists, it is the documentation that does not exist that defines what is missing. "

I assume you have examples? MS have many issues but documentation isn't (generally) one of them.

Yes there are undocumented parts of Windows - but those parts aren't exposed to users/developers and aren't provided as stable API/ABI. IOW if you are trying to use undocumented parts then you are probably doing something wrong or mucking about in something that may change in any OS update.

The state of documentation in OSX seems to be (if the linked article is right) not even comparable.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: undocumented - the norm
by tylerdurden on Mon 14th Aug 2017 19:32 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: undocumented - the norm"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

Given how you're using a HW product that was released over 35 yrs ago as an example, and talking about accusations from the early 90s... your request for others to "gen up" seem rather ironic.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by judgen
by judgen on Sun 13th Aug 2017 23:50 UTC
judgen
Member since:
2006-07-12

Richest *publicly traded company* both the NHS and the federal reserve has more dosh.

Edit: Total worth of apple is $752 Billion, whilst DoHS *(wich is a US federal company) gets almost a trillion dollars per year in funding.

Also for example ICBC and Fannie Mac has over three trillion in assets each. And also Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China and China Construction Bank all have trillions of assets as well.

Richest non-governmental company is Mitsubishi UFJ Financial with 2,5 trillion dollars in assets. And the largest in Europe is HSBC Holdings at $2.3 trillion.

Edited 2017-08-13 23:57 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by judgen
by daveak on Mon 14th Aug 2017 06:58 UTC in reply to "Comment by judgen"
daveak Member since:
2008-12-29

and yet we the tax payers had to bail out these banks when they could have just sold off some of their assets.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by judgen
by unclefester on Mon 14th Aug 2017 07:53 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by judgen"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

and yet we the tax payers had to bail out these banks when they could have just sold off some of their assets.


Most of those "assets" were absolutely worthless debt obligations and junk bonds.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by judgen
by darknexus on Mon 14th Aug 2017 11:24 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by judgen"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

"and yet we the tax payers had to bail out these banks when they could have just sold off some of their assets.


Most of those "assets" were absolutely worthless debt obligations and junk bonds.
"
Then they should have had to suffer for their bad business decisions, like anyone else. Instead they got rewarded for doing a shit job.

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Comment by judgen
by RobG on Mon 14th Aug 2017 12:31 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by judgen"
RobG Member since:
2012-10-17

That would have been a disaster. While I have a bad taste at bailing out banks, the alternative would have been (much) worse.

The failure was a lack of regulation and allowing banks to merge to the extent where they became "too big to fail". If they had collapsed then, many people would have lost their savings, their homes may have been at risk, and many (more) businesses would have gone bottoms up.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by judgen
by bugjacobs on Mon 14th Aug 2017 14:55 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by judgen"
bugjacobs Member since:
2009-01-03

Yes the alternative to bailing them out was letting them fail, with the disaster of letting people with money in the bank lose everything.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Comment by judgen
by Alfman on Mon 14th Aug 2017 18:50 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by judgen"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

RobG,

That would have been a disaster. While I have a bad taste at bailing out banks, the alternative would have been (much) worse.

The failure was a lack of regulation and allowing banks to merge to the extent where they became "too big to fail". If they had collapsed then, many people would have lost their savings, their homes may have been at risk, and many (more) businesses would have gone bottoms up.



bugjacobs,
Yes the alternative to bailing them out was letting them fail, with the disaster of letting people with money in the bank lose everything.



Not necessarily. In the US, normal checking and savings accounts are required to be FDIC insured in the event of bank failures. Having your bank fail would be extremely inconvent, but apart from that people don't loose their money with normal accounts.

Investment accounts are different and are not FDIC insured, banks have to disclose the fact that people can loose their entire investment when they sign up. We can sympathize with them if it happens, but the reality is those people knowingly took the risk for a chance at higher rewards.


Back to the bailouts, the ordinary FDIC insured bank accounts were never at risk. The bailouts were for the banks themselves! This means the bank's investors who knowingly took large risky investments in the hopes of high rewards are the ones who got bailed out. We used our public tax dollars to cover their debts.

Arguably what we should have done is let the banks go bankrupt for their own failures and then transferred all the FDIC insured accounts to other smaller & more responsible banks. At the very least regulators should have broken the banks apart so that they were no longer "too big to fail", instead we used public taxes to make them whole again. When you really think about it, the bailouts were a despicable slap in the face to anyone who was actually responsible.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by judgen
by RobG on Mon 14th Aug 2017 12:28 UTC in reply to "Comment by judgen"
RobG Member since:
2012-10-17

The NHS are not a publicly traded company.

Although the shower currently in government may like to change that.

Reply Score: 2

There are plenty of dead tree books
by shotsman on Mon 14th Aug 2017 07:20 UTC
shotsman
Member since:
2005-07-22

on MacOS and iOS available from booksellers.
These seem to cover the most common things that people want to know.
A friend of mine was 'upgraded' to W10 last year and she almost threw the PC at the wall when it rebooted when she was in the middle of a game. She's a non IT person.

I gave her an old MacMini and a book on OSX. She's managed to sort out most things for herself and my support calls have dropped down to nearly zero.

Yes, things could be better but IMHO it is not as bad as many people make out.

Reply Score: 3

ahferroin7 Member since:
2015-10-30

Yes, but it's generally customary that basic stuff like that comes as documentation with the product itself. Put a bit differently, when you buy a new TV, or a new washing machine, or a new vacuum cleaner, you generally expect there to be a manual explaining how to use it. Hell, even most video games normally have decent documentation (in the form of an integrated tutorial) compared to most commercial software.

The point at which it's easier for your user to find answers by searching online or reading a book from a third party, you need to improve your documentation (although in the case of macOS and Windows, I'd argue it's just as much that the means of access isn't all that great as the lack of good first-party documentation).

Reply Score: 4

Flagship?
by darknexus on Mon 14th Aug 2017 11:25 UTC
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

Does anyone seriously consider MacOS to be Apple's flagship product anymore? In price, sure, but it seems obvious to me that they're keeping MacOS on life support until iOS is advanced enough to be rid of it.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by ahferroin7
by ahferroin7 on Mon 14th Aug 2017 13:06 UTC
ahferroin7
Member since:
2015-10-30

I don't even use macOS and I agree that their documentation is horrendous.

This brings to mind an experiment I did a while back. I decided to see how hard it would be with various other operating systems to replicate the data safety guarantees provided by the storage stack I had set up on my Linux home server at the time. The ironic thing is that it also gave me a pretty good idea of how well documented each OS I looked at was. For OS X Server (as it was called at the time), it took me almost 2 hours of searching to figure out that it wasn't possible to replicate the data safety I had, as compared to the roughly 10 minutes it took me to figure out how to do it on FreeBSD, or the 30 it originally took me on Linux.

Reply Score: 1

THEY !
by bugjacobs on Mon 14th Aug 2017 14:53 UTC
bugjacobs
Member since:
2009-01-03

They want us to be in the dark ;-)

Reply Score: 2

Non-existent Help files
by Parry on Mon 14th Aug 2017 15:32 UTC
Parry
Member since:
2014-06-03

Last night I wanted to plan my route from the North of England to the South. I usually use Google but I thought I'd give Apple Maps a chance first. Unable to find an option to avoid toll roads, I went to the Help file but, as I feared, it was totally useless. It's almost as if Apple discourages the use of help files because the GUI should be intuitive enough. I get it, but why have a help option if it doesn't help!?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Non-existent Help files
by darknexus on Mon 14th Aug 2017 16:47 UTC in reply to "Non-existent Help files"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Apple are hardly alone in that regard. I can count on one hand the number of times a help file, for anything, has provided me a relevant answer.

Reply Score: 2

phoudoin
Member since:
2006-06-09

They didn't do it when MacOS X *was* their software flagship, they surely won't do it now that their whole focus is on their lock-in OSes: iOS, tvOS, watchOS.

Reply Score: 2