What happened to REAL documentation?

What happened to REAL documentation?

Joining other complaints I see from time to time on this forum, I have to strongly object to the current state of the documentation. It is simply very difficult to use. As an example, consider the search for help on the subject of Quickwin. In the old CVF days, or IVF prior to the time (v.9 or 10?) that documentation was absorved into VS, I could call up help and navigate using a tree explorer as follows:

Visual Fortran >
     Compaq Visual Fortran >
          Programmers Guide >
               Using Quickwin
     ...which takes me to 8 Quickwin topics and many subtopics with extensive description of all aspects of Quickwin. The navigation was easy because the tree view explorer shows all levels with collapsable indexing. The Table of Contents shown by the explorer was complete and logical.

Now, I have to do

Library Home >
     Intel Fortran Compiler XE 12.1 User and Reference Guides >
          Getting Started >
               Using Microsoft Visual Studio > (MISPLACED!)
                    Working with Microsoft Visual Studio >
                         About Fortran Project Types >
                              Using Fortran Quickwin Application Projects
     ....which has one page only, containing the bare basics of how to run it, with a link to software.intel.com, which is a rabbit hole, to get another manual for addl info.

Besides being deeply nested, the "explorer" is very difficult to traverse because it does not show more than one level ahead or behind, and the organization is sometimes not intuitive. (Why is the general info on Quickwin projects stuck under Visual Studio? It has nothing to do with whether you're using the studio or the command line to launch the programs; then when you finally get there you find out that the real information does not even exist except at another location in cyberspace).

Please, please bring back the older type documentation that consisted of a single pdf document, with full and reasonable table of contents, and in which I can markup pages or even print out sections. I have even left CVF installed on my computer, just so I can use the documentation!


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I so agree with this! I still use my hard copy DVF manuals and the later Intel pdf manuals. The help in VS is plain user hostile.


Actually, the QuickWin documentation was removed entirely and put on the web at http://software.intel.com/sites/products/documentation/hpc/composerxe/en... I objected to this move.

I see advantages and disadvantages to the current documenation system. While I know many people want printable PDFs, the reality is that if we also want to provide interactive online help within Visual Studio, it is significant extra effiort and time to produce a PDF as well due to different tools usage.

Perhaps you'd find the HTML help easier to use. You can find it here.

Retired 12/31/2016

Thanks for the link Steve. This document provides most of the missing information that I needed.

But, I had already found it by clawing around in the rabbit hole mentioned in the first post. Why is it so hard to find?

But the real point is, this document is in very good shape, it is pdf, well indexed with an interactive T of C, which can be traversed by the usual and well-known explorer type tool that can show all levels with expandable/collapsable points.

As such, it just emphasizes how deplorable the document is provided with VS for the rest of the documentation.

As for your comment about wanting to provide interactive online help within Visual Studio, I thought that worked just fine with CVF. If you could point out some specific advantages of the new system, it MIGHT be easier to swallow. But still the current system needs lots of work to be as useful as the old one.

Microsoft changed the way help works in Visual Studio at least three times since VS98. The CVF way doesn't work anymore.  I find the index quite easy to use. But I don't like the inability to see where I am in the document heirarchy.

The HTML help is easier to use, but doesn't work with F1 help in Visual Studio.

Retired 12/31/2016

Yes, quite right about the F1 feature. That is good. Too bad so much had to be sacrificed to get it.

The index probably is reasonably easy to use if you are familiar enough to have a good idea where you're going. But the organization has changed so much--and sometimes not intuitive (e.g. things that used to be in the document and aren't anymore) that it has become as frustrating as it is useful.

At the risk of mentioning something that's somewhat obvious and hence perhaps already well known - there is a table of contents for the help provided by VS2010.  If you find a topic that is vaguely relevant, the Sync ToC button (third from the left up the top) will show you where you are in the contents hierarchy.  One use is to make sure that you're in the right "tree" for the compiler version of interest.

Sounds like this may be useful Ian, but I can't find it. This is a VS feature, right? A toolbar button? On what toolbar? Is there a way to get to it through the menus?

My third button from the left is the usual "Open File" but that's probably just because of my toolbar arrangement.

I can see the button on mine.   Have a look at the attached file.


Downloadapplication/pdf helpviewer.pdf70.28 KB

Well, this is interesting. My screen (see attached) doesn't look anything like yours. I am viewing help through Internet Explorer and you are using "Microsoft Help Viewer," whatever that is. Your browser section is very large and contains explandable nodes. Mine is very short and shows only a very limited topic heirarcy, and I see no way to adjust it.

So, some of the complaints I have registered don't even happen in your system. How do you do it? 

Don't know why my screenshot file didn't upload, trying again.


Downloadapplication/pdf ivfhelpview.pdf160.71 KB

Microsoft Help Viewer is what you get when you ask for help from inside Visual Studio.  If you are using a web browser to read the documentation, you won't get those features.

Retired 12/31/2016

I do ask for help from inside Visual Studio. I've never done it any other way. IE is just what pops up, apparently as the default viewer. Is there some way to control this, some setting I have wrong?

You might have to install Visual Studio Service Pack 1.  It includes the Help Viewer 1.1.   Have a look at:


Is it because I am using the VS shell that comes with IVF, instead of the full VS package? I'm not sure I want to dive into the VS service pack unless I know it is compatible with the shell.

The service pack is compatible with the shell, and fixes some issues with the help viewer.

Retired 12/31/2016

Eureka! I have installed the SP on both computers I use, and the difference is amazing. This wipes out half of my complaint! Now if only the document could be provided as a pdf, so that I can peruse it as a document, outside of VS, and mark it up.

Steve, you might consider putting out a general alert about this help SP, since there are probably many users, like myself, who have no idea what the help system should look like. I have installed three different IVF versions on two different computers over the last two years, and have always suffered through the help viewed with IE, not knowing any better.

Eureka! Many thanks for the tip, Roman. This new "help" experience is way better, and solves about half of my complaints! It's still too bad that the document can't be provided as a pdf, so I can view it outside of the VS environment (e.g., on a different computer) and mark it up.

I have installed about three different versions of IVF on two different computers, and help had ALWAYS come up with Internet Explorer. I had no idea there was any other way.

Steve, you might consider putting out a general alert on this forum because there are probably lots like me, who are obsivious to the way Help is supposed to work.

Why are the edit symbols layed out in a column like this?

(Using FireFox browser)


Downloadimage/jpeg forumcomment.jpg65.89 KB

By the way, for those old users of CVF, and who still have the help files installed in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio\DF98\DOC, you can access the very nice CVF online help for the Windows API functions etc. by associating the DF.COL file extension with the c:\windows\HH.EXE HTML help application and double-clicking on the file. Or just create a desktop shortcut that executes C:\WINDOWS\HH.exe "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio\DF98\DOC\df60.col". The help collection files *.COL are undocumented I find.

Anthony, it's a forum bug and will be fixed.

Retired 12/31/2016

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