What do you expect to find when you search for Lightroom Classic CC User Guide?

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When I have done a Google search for Adobe Lightroom Classic CC User Guide, I land on the Adobe support page for Lightroom. And rather than offering me an actual user guide, I am shuttled to this forum as though Adobe does not have an actual user guide for Lightroom Classic CC. In the search box on this support page, I enter a word that represents any tool, task, button, or feature in Lightroom Classic CC. The results of my query offer me all sorts of unrelated stuff from a wide variety of software products that are unrelated to Lightroom Classic CC.

And, when I finally find a page related to Lightroom Classic CC, the available items are videos that are not indexed. They are not searchable and at times incoherent. They are often created by people selling classes.

What do you expect to find when you search for the Lightroom Classic CC User Guide?
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John Hansen

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Posted 8 months ago

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Alan Harper

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I believe that the last user guides created by Adobe are for the CS 6 series. I don't like this, but I think that is the case.
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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The User Guide is still there, but online only. (Apparently Adobe now has a company-wide policy of  no longer delivering PDF versions.)  To get to the guide, I Google for "lightroom user guide", which takes me here: https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/user-guide.html

The support search at Adobe.com is pretty horrible if you're looking for authoritative, written help.  I do Google searches, which are almost always faster and more relevant:

export options site:helpx.adobe.com/lightroom

(I keep a bookmark to the query "site:helpx.adobe.com/lightroom" and simply add my search terms to Google's search box.)

* * *

The Search Adobe Support box fails multiple ways:

Even though you're viewing the Lightroom User Guide, if you search, it searches all Adobe products, for Support and "Community" (i.e. user posts on the forums), and shows video content first.  (In this post-literate age, those of who hate inefficient, slow, run-at-the-mouth video constitute a shrinking minority.) 

You need to filter the search results to just Support content for Lightroom Classic. And of course Lightroom Classic isn't shown in the list, so you have to type "lightroom" and then click.  But don't type "lightroom classic", because that fails.  

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John R. Ellis, Champion

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...and then you have to skip down past the videos crammed in the top of the search results.
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Carl Douthit

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It should NOT be that difficult to find. 
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Carl Douthit

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This is one of the reasons I gave up on Lightroom completely. (The Adobe products that I currently use are Bridge, Camera Raw, and Photoshop. I also am trialing other software but that isn't important for this thread).

Adobe seems to think that pointing at a forum or at a third-party provider is an adequate way of handling their product support responsibility. It is inconceivable to me that we can't find a User Guide (if it exists) when other products have them available to be downloaded to our desktop or searched on the net.

But that seems to be the way it is.
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Jim Wilde, Champion

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Try pressing F1 when in Lightroom Classic (or Help menu>Lightroom Classic CC Help)? That works for me.
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Henrik Mjöberg

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Hello John,

there are still pdf-manuals for download, but they haven't been updated since about summer 2016. Here's Lr CC: https://helpx.adobe.com/pdf/lightroom_reference.pdf
You'll find other products by searching for ex. Adobe Photoshop reference pdf and identifying the helpx.adobe.com domain for the document.

Cheers,
Henrik
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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Thanks, I have the PDFs for LR 6 and previous versions already.
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Ethos Erlanger

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Thanks to everyone who added their comments. I appreciate that there seems to be a common sentiment on this topic. Even the PDF document that is available on line and appears to be written for Lightroom 6 has numerous shortcomings.
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John Hansen

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The insight that everyone offered here is appreciated. What can we as users do to influence Adobe to take an alternate approach to their support documentation? I liked the comment from John R Ellis who wrote: "In this post-literate age, those of [us] who hate inefficient, slow, run-at-the-mouth video constitute a shrinking minority."

I had not realized that the literate age had passed. So sad.

I suggest that we all comment on the videos that the author(s) should index their topics in the description below the videos. We can also request that they make single topic videos rather than the agglomeration of too many topics in one video. The educators need to hear from some of us who might be called "Literate Age Dinosaurs".
(Edited)
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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Add feedback here and clicking the Me Too button at top is an effective way of influencing Adobe. Product developers do read most everything posted here and sometimes reply.
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Henrik Mjöberg

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There you go +1. Basically we want a full written pdf manual that covers everything for all major suite programs. Since Adobe knows what they're adding it shouldn't be that hard to keep it updated, considering we're sort of paying for good documentation.
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Larry Fasnacht

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I know it costs money, but get Victoria Bampton's book.  You'll be way better off.
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Cristen Gillespie

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I don't use Google to search for answers, at least first, outside of Adobe online help, but I find it much faster to use Google to search the Adobe helpx files than to use Adobe itself and search inside the site.

And if you think that Google doesn't know what version you're talking about, just look at Adobe. Heck, I have searched WITH the version in the title and come up with After Effects and Photoshop CS6, everything. . .  Search on Adobe's own site is so bad, most of us who have to use it fairly often go gray while trying to find the "definitive" description of a named command.  '-}
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Carl Douthit

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I searched for something a couple of hours ago within this forum -- and came up with a mixed-up list of results that ranged from 2 weeks old to over 5 years old (at least), not sorted by date or anything.

Totally useless to search through page after page and having to look first at age and then at content.
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Larry Fasnacht

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If you search in Google you can go to the advanced tab and specify a date for the search.
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John Hansen

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I will not name the educator or the YouTube Channel, but a recent comment that I offered to one educator was a simple request to index his video. I even offered my own suggestion of the 11 point index that I felt would be appropriate. The video is 1 hour 45 minutes long. There were 11 points in the 105 minute video with links to the point where a viewer would enter the video for that topic. Click the time that is noted in the index and you go immediately to the topic.

I praised his work. I was polite. My offer of a suggested index was unwelcome and did not even get a reply. And now in less than 24 hours, my comment and index was deleted. Is it any wonder that I might develop strong feelings towards this educator?
(Edited)
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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You can lead a horse to water, but.......

We live in a time of rampant spam, phishing, and cyber bullying. Many people consider unsolicited advice as one of those categories, especially if it's from someone they don't know. A better approach is to contact the person via a posted email address or PM, but even then you may receive the same response.
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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All of these different 'Search' workarounds would go away if Adobe simply added an online document specific 'Search Box' for each 'User Guide' as shown below.

Come on Adobe I know you can do it!

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Carl Douthit

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Great suggestion, Todd Shaner!
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John Hansen

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@Todd Shaner, I like your suggestion, but why not the other way around? We got to this document because we wanted to read something that we thought was in it. The local search should be the priority and be on top. We all know where the browser back button is if we want to "Search Adobe Support". I want to move up the tree not down the trunk.
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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Totally agree. In fact 'Search Adobe Support' should be moved up to the top-right as a "last-resort" item.

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Todd Shaner, Champion

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Good news! It looks like Adobe is aware of the need for searchable PDF documents that can be used offline. I found this Oct. 16, 2017 post in the ACP forum by Adobe staff Tricia Lawrence, Sr. Manager, Customer Care:

Where are the CC 2017 PDF Help Files?
"I spoke again with them this morning and they are now in a position to get these back on track.  With the creation and testing, we are looking at early January when they will be available."

Happy Thanksgiving
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John Hansen

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@Todd Shaner

It would seem to be a simple thing for Adobe to create a placeholder webpage for Lightroom Classic CC User Guide that gave us this information. Also, with all these recent variants of similar product names, it is critical that Tricia Lawrence spells out the entire name of the product such as: Adobe Lightroom Classic CC. Maybe they should include the category name of Photoshop like this: "Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC User Guide" The question/answer above simply says: "CC 2017 PDF Help Files". Perhaps the projected arrival that Tricia Lawrence speaks of is for a totally different CC product.

I just do not trust it. let's all reconvene in February when Adobe misses the early January date.
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John Hansen

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Todd, has the greater community of photographers reached out to the software reviewers of the mass media who report on technology and asked them to consider the general topic of user documentation and product support? In particular, I recently commented on one review of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC and asked the reviewer to consider the lack of documentation as worthy of downgrading his review. Lightroom Classic CC does not deserve the high marks in the on-line reviews that it is getting.

I felt the reviewer simply did not realize the situation with this product. We should all work to influence both the software authors and the reviewers who write about these products that software of this type requires a certain level of documentation to be considered a complete product.

And the marketing managers and product managers at all levels should realize this should never be allowed to happen again. Documentation is the litmus test for usability. If the product team cannot write a coherent description of how the software works, how could a new user be expected to transition into using this product over the competition?

Marketing managers and product managers should be acutely aware that adoption rates by new users is critical to the life and death of a product.
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Cristen Gillespie

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> Documentation is the litmus test for usability. >

Of course, we all know what "some assembly required" usually means. Give up your weekend and call in favors from all your friends to figure out the instructions and exploded diagrams.<G>  The truth is, unlike most products which require instructions for assembly and/or use, Adobe isn't lacking in documentation so much as it's lacking in organization and presenting the information in such a way it's both easy to search and searches will return only relevant data. It's diluted its ability to provide the complete documentation by trying to figure out how to provide it in some way that's easy to digest. Hence numerous videos and search snippets within the apps themselves, rich tooltips, links in the Start Screens that seem to slow everything down when launching, and lumping features covered in the online help under the general task you might want to complete, rather than letting us search directly on a feature or tool itself.

In part, there is simply TOO much out there when it comes to Adobe products, whether provided by Adobe themselves, or 3rd parties. I agree that the usability of a full-featured, complex application does turn on how accessible educational materials are, along with how complete and understandable the material is. I'm not sure it has to be provided by the product manufacturer, but it's awfully nice when it is.

But if you're going to downgrade an application for not having a downloadable PDF manual, despite the surfeit of riches everywhere else, then you're going to also have to compare it to its competition. On1, for instance, does have a downloadable PDF (yay!)— although I don't know how truly complete the manual is— but only 1 book that I can find,  and it's a 3rd party book. Affinity Photo has only online help, and one workbook being offered this week at a discount before Amazon carries it, so I can't even look inside to see how helpful a series of tutorials will be. It's not a manual. Topaz Lab—now Studio has hour-long webinars that are really helpful, but not indexed in any way. No online or offline manual that I've ever located. You can join the forum if you have questions—which assumes, of course, that you know what you don't know well enough to ask about it. DXO's Learn and Support offers tutorials, webinars, videos. No PDF for download that I could find.

> Documentation is the litmus test for usability. If the product team cannot write a coherent description of how the software works, how could a new user be expected to transition into using this product over the competition?>

Actually, unless you include in your team someone whose sole job is to write about the software, you aren't likely to get anything a new user can understand. It's a specialized skill, and shouldn't be thought of as something anyone with a working knowledge of the software can pull off.  Genius programmers aren't necessarily capable of communicating to the masses, and however well someone can edit an image, however talented and skilled they may be, they're not always also writers. We don't expect writers, however good they are at writing, to be programmers or accomplished artists, now do we?

However, yes indeed, I do wish that Adobe would employ such people as part of their product teams. I would like a complete, well-organized and fully indexed manual. Few users will bother with it—that's why we used to have the expression RTFM as a response to common questions. Today without manuals, we get why people don't know how to find the answers by themselves.  '-}   But a comprehensive manual would help the instructors be accurate, and those users willing to brave the kind of writing found in company-produced software manuals could enjoy the slog to uncover the hidden gems in the software.

I'm not holding my breath waiting for it to materialize, and in the meantime, there are Victoria Bampton's books, Jared Platt's informative videos, and a whole host of others out there doing an excellent job of helping us learn how to work with the software. They slog  so we don't have to.
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John Hansen

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Cristen,
You said it all so well.
The executives at Adobe and those product managers responsible for Lightroom in all its forms need to consider the value of the specialized communication skills you describe as the Documentation Writers. That value is an intangible. Good documentation should be thought of as a marketing tool and not as an overhead expense.
And having these writers on the team would give the team an opportunity to learn from each other through ongoing dialog what can be understood by users. If the writers cannot make it understandable, then it needs to be reworked by the programmers. At times this is the task of the product manager who is the captain of the team to shape the product from the sidelines. But the documentation writers need to be on the field with the rest of the team or the ball will never get to the goal post for the score.
(Edited)
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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I have to agree, engineers write the worst documentation!
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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I spent the first 20-years of my career working in design engineering.Documentation was a key part of every project as mandated by our Quality Control system and executed by the Technical Writing team. There was considerable interaction between the individual engineers and tech writers in a collaborative effort to create detailed manuals. I can tell you from firsthand experience it was very difficult to find tech writers with the right mix of writing experience and technical knowledge. The best writers had excellent writing skills and an uncanny ability for deciphering engineering “gobbledygook” into something that was actually useful for customers.
(Edited)
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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Documentation is the litmus test for usability. If the product team cannot write a coherent description of how the software works, how could a new user be expected to transition into using this product over the competition?
John, there is an overwhelming consensus concerning the need for well written and organized PDF documentation from all ACP members replying at the post I mentioned. It affects ALL Adobe products, which now only have updates applied to the online user guide. This information is being communicated and championed to Adobe management by Tricia Lawrence Sr. Manager, Adobe Customer Care.

Here are some examples:
https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/user-guide.html
https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/user-guide.html
https://helpx.adobe.com/bridge/user-guide.html
https://helpx.adobe.com/premiere-pro/user-guide.html
https://helpx.adobe.com/indesign/user-guide.html
https://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat/user-guide.html

According to Tricia Lawrence Adobe had difficulty finding and hiring Tech Writers with the experience required for correcting this situation.

On Oct. 12, 2017 Tricia Lawrence said, "I apologize on behalf of the team but please know PDF's are not going away and we totally understand your frustrations and respect your patience as we get these back up and running."

Again, the milestone mentioned for User Guide PDF availability is early January 2018. We shall see.....
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Carl Douthit

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"We shall see" indeed! 

I very little faith that a new hire (even within the past 3 months) can know Lightroom or Photoshop (or one of the other products) well enough to write an accurate piece of documentation. This has nothing to do with the writing capabilities of those who have been hired and everything to do with the complex and confusing nature of Adobe software combined with an aggressive completion target that is already too delayed.

And if they assign pieces of a document to various people, then where will the comprehensive agreement come between the various sections?

I know that documenting something isn't a task that can be jumped into without detailed information and understanding about what is being documented.

I wish those writers good luck, especially with the disruption that the holidays will bring during the next 6 weeks.
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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Carl, don't forget the Lightroom CC 2015 Reference Help PDF is still available and up to date as of July 26, 2016. That contains at least 90% of the basic information required. Same with the other product PDF User Manuals (PS, ID, etc.). It should be a simple a matter to update them with the new functions, get them posted, and then look at what improvements can be implemented.
(Edited)