Many of us start using new plug-ins in Pro Tools without first reading through the included plug-in manual. This habit is comparable to proud men that disregard flat pack furniture assembly instructions. We know that plug-in manuals are only a couple of clicks away yet many of us fail to ever read them... why is that?
Web Content & Plug-in Tool Tips
I suppose plug-in manuals play second fiddle to web content and plug-in tool-tips as both are more engaging than to read through a 30-page pdf file. I'm no stranger to using both web content and tool-tips for learning plug-ins. When I'm interested in purchasing a new plug-in I will first watch a handful of web videos about the plug-in as I want to hear what it can do. In these videos I will often learn a quick workflow or control feature that defines the plug-in but the problem is I only learn so much from watching - I'm the type of person that likes to learn the complexities of a plug-in.
Plug-in tool-tips are useful - hover a cursor over a control and a line of text will appear in the plugin. Tool-tips are designed to deliver a quick tip or line of text that states "This dial does this" kind of thing. Often plug-in tool-tips won't explain much beyond the obvious.
Some Plug-in Manuals Miss The Point
I feel the best plug-in manuals are the ones that have been written in a way that enables me to get under the skin of a plug-in. I like it when developers include plug-in workflow tips or trouble-shooting guides as these are usually the areas where I get stuck early on with new plug-ins.
That said, I've read quite a few plug-in manuals in the past that I feel are no more than afterthoughts. Recently I was reading through a plug-in manual that explained absolutely nothing about the controls in a clear instructional way. Instead, it used language that explained nothing in either a real life or practical way. If anything I ended up with more questions about the plug-in after reading the convoluted manual.
Plug-in Developer Duty
When we purchase a plug-in we also purchase a manual. I feel disappointed when a plug-in manual hasn't been written in a supportive or instructional manner - I class these types of plug-in manuals as "We the developer assume you the end user understand our genius". It's these types of after thought plug-in manuals that make me feel as though I'm not being valued as a customer or end user.
Let us hear your thoughts about plug-in manuals.