PS 2018 documentation?

PS 2018 documentation?

Colleagues,

I installed PS 2018, interfacing with VS 2015. What happened to the Fortran documentation?  It is no longer available via the F1 key -- a window appears saying I have to download it. I followed the link to the program download page in the registration center but can't find the documentation.

 

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The Fortran documentation is available at https://software.intel.com/en-us/fortran-compiler-18.0-developer-guide-a... . I don't know if the same is also installed locally after installing the compiler. The Getting Started guide is at https://software.intel.com/en-us/get-started-with-fortran-compiler-18.0-... .

As David says, when you use F1 for context-sensitive help, the message tells you to go to the Intel Registration Center to download documentation, but none is to be found there. As of version 18, the install doesn't provide local documentation.

Steve (aka "Doctor Fortran") - Retired from Intel

This link:  https://software.intel.com/en-us/fortran-compiler-18.0-developer-guide-a...     does NOT provide documentation in a useful form.  It points to a cumbersome webpage that layers the details that the documentation should (did) provide beneath many clicks and pokes and extended scrolling. The brevity, concision and detail that is necessary when you're coding ("what is that syntax for the mask in the MaxLoc function?") is lost in a blubbery and discursive webpage. This is certainly a step backward. ERRGGGHH.

Dear Intel team,

does it mean that there will be no offline/local documentation starting from PSXE 2018 on at all? Or will only the installer lack of the documentation and I will be able to download it later, if the webpage is arranged? Is the PDF-version also afflicted? The FAQ links contain no PDF version by today anymore! (PSXE 2017 PDF is found here https://software.intel.com/en-us/intel-fortran-compiler-17.0-user-and-re...)

The online documentation is OK for me, but how will I have access to documentation, if I'm offline? I can only encourage the developer team to provide us a useful solution.

Best regards, Johannes

 

Hi,

if PSXE2018 is installed parallel to older versions, the local help by hitting F1 is not available also! That's not fine.

I will check, if I can manually link the PSXE2017 local help to VS as long there is no PSXE2018 help...

Update: PSXE2017 'F1' Help (..\IntelSWTools\ide_support_2017\..) can be added by VS Menu 'Help' -> 'Add and Remove Help Content'. Done it for old versions (12.x, VS2010) successfully, but this does not work for PSXE2017-'F1'-help with PSXE 2018 VS integration. The same nasty message as above is shown.

Please, Intel give us back this feature!

ps: 'normal' offline help is still available in C:\...\IntelSWTools\documentation_2018\...

I concur the Intel made things MUCH worse for developers (especially those trying to learn Fortran or it's new keywords) by removing the F1 key functionality. This is a problem regardless of which Visual Studio version is being used.

The link provided take you to the generic Intel developer page where the language reference index or search is several uncomfortable layers below. I did download the documentation locally, but this dialog still shows up. There SHOULD be a way to link the context sensitive help (F1 key) to the local documentation.

Please fix this FAST!

Fortran Context Help Warning

 

 

@John

Have you found the help file at registration center. I only found w_psxe_doc_p_2018.0.089.zip, which contains no ide_support_2018 folder...

Interestingly according to https://software.intel.com/en-us/articles/intel-software-development-too... there should be such a folder:

#1 -- Installation of Intel® Parallel Studio XE with Microsoft* Visual Studio 2017 integration hangs and fails

Installation of Intel® Parallel Studio XE with Microsoft* Visual Studio 2017 integration hangs and fails on some systems. The problem is intermittent and not reproducible on every system. Any attempts to repair it fails with the message "Incomplete installation of Microsoft Visual Studio* 2017 is detected". Note, in some cases the installation may complete successfully with no error/crashes, however, the integration to VS2017 is not installed.

Workaround: Note that with Intel® Parallel Studio XE 2017 Update 4 there is no workaround for this integration problem. The following workaround is expected to be implemented in Intel® Parallel Studio XE 2017 Update 5. It is implemented in Intel® Parallel Studio XE 2018.

Integrate the Intel Parallel Studio XE components manually. You need to run all the files from the corresponding folders:

  • C++/Fortran Compiler IDE:

    • <installdir>/ide_support_2018/VS15/C++/*.vsix
    • <installdir>/ide_support_2018/VS15/Fortran/*.vsix

Steve is right. In 18.0 version the documentation is available online. It is not available within VS. Still, I am going to escalate this request to development. I will find out about the PDF version of the Developer Guide.

Thank you for your feedback.

Devorah - Intel® Developer Support

Devorah, it is clear from the F1 message that the intent is that F1 help should work if one downloads... something. Please find out what this is supposed to do. Loss of F1 help would be very disappointing.

Steve (aka "Doctor Fortran") - Retired from Intel

Some points I found out:

  • Offline docu is not available for PSXE 2018 if one installs with offline installer. I found no customization option in the installer for the help files. You have to download manually these files as a package for all Intel tools. Unzip it and copy the desired selection to installation folder (as administrator). Why is this necessary?
  • The F1 VS help integration used to be placed in a folder called 'ide_support_2017' (ide_support_2016). Only two relevant files are in the subfolder 'msvhelp':  'fproc_cmplr_17_0_0.cab' and helpcontentsetup.msha. It might be possible to adapt these files for PSXE 2018. Should not be too hard to change links to offline or online documentation for the developers, isn't it?

@Steve: Glad to hear that you find the absence of F1 help also disappointing.

@johnannes

I extracted the documentation into `C:\Program Files (x86)\IntelSWTools\documentation_2018` and created a symbolic link to it under `C:\Program Files (x86)\IntelSWTools\documentation`. I thought the help system would look at this location for the latest help, as it does similarly for the latest compiler and apps. But, there is more that needs to be done to enable [F1] key functionality.

@Devorah H. (Intel)

I still don't understand what is the reason Intel did not include the documentation w/ the compiler why it is not integrated with visual studio like it had with previous versions. This is a big step back IMHO.

 

1. The downloadable PDF button will be on software.intel.com (IDZ) by the end of this week. It will be on the first page of the Intel Fortran Compiler Developer Guide.

I have added PDF version of the Developer Guide to FAQ

2. Intel Registration Center(IRC) has the Intel Fortran Compiler Developer Guide for download as part of the larger "Intel Parallel Studio XE Documentation" package. You can download this package from the Subscription History page in IRC. F1 Notice regarding downloading documentation for offline use refers to this documentation package on Intel Registration Center.

Devorah - Intel® Developer Support

Worse and worse . . . When I perform a Vtune analysis on code and have occasion to click on the "assembly" tab to see, for example, what instructions the compiler generates and whether I've got things correctly and efficiently for vectorization, and then click on a machine instruction, I now get taken to a (useless) webpage. Before 18.0, I would get a description of the machine instruction. This change (removal, actually) that has been made to all documentation support in 18.0 is irredeemably dumb.  Users should have been consulted before such significant change was made.

I'm not fond of this change either, but you could have participated in the beta test and seen this several months ago.

Steve (aka "Doctor Fortran") - Retired from Intel

Steve,

That's not the purpose of beta testing. Beta testing is a way for developers to get user to find bugs in code. It is way too late to be part of product scoping. Beta testing (on a user's part) takes time and resources. One can switch back-and-forth between new/old compiler versions looking for things, but it is, essentially an evaluation of a fait accompli.  One dares not use the code generated by the beta, since it might change/be buggy, etc. However useful I find Intel compilers, however much I am dependent on them, I do not have the resources to help find bugs in products that are in development.

The management of the compiler development team needs to learn to describe, in the starkest possible terms, what  changes/additions/deletions are being considered in the next development cycle. An email inquiry or link to a webpage for subscribers to weigh in on each proposed change would be appropriate/welcomed. Now I ask you, what would we have all said if such a list had stated: "we're considering removing any form of documentation support and context-sensitive help -- what do you think?"

 

Best Reply

Unfortunately, that's not the way most commercial software is developed. I have seen the occasional survey of possible changes, but Intel has not had a history of doing that. I left Intel before learning of this proposed change, so I don't know who made the decision or why. The evidence suggests, though, that there was a disconnect between departments (the product is composed of pieces managed by a dozen or so different groups), and I theorize that the "product manager" for the compiler was in fact unaware that context-sensitive help would go away. I'd go farther and suggest that this was not planned by anyone, but rather a crucial development piece was missed. This is all speculation - I have no inside info on this.

That said, Intel Parallel Studio beta tests are supposed to be "feature complete" at beta start. ("supposed to be", but often aren't.) Beta feedback is very important, and if beta customers had complained from the start about lack of F1 help, or lack of installed documentation, I'm pretty sure something would have changed. You know, of course, that you can use the beta alongside the released version.

On Windows, the documentation issue is complicated by Microsoft changing the documentation format incompatibly from VS release to release. I know that this is extremely painful for the Intel doc team and it might be that they just didn't have the tools or resources to deliver integrated documentation for all three supported VS versions. Again, just my personal theory.

I am confident that Devorah, or someone else on the Intel support team, will pass on this feedback to the appropriate people. Decisions can be reversed, and missing pieces filled in.

Steve (aka "Doctor Fortran") - Retired from Intel

Quote:

Steve Lionel (Ret.) wrote:

I'm not fond of this change either, but you could have participated in the beta test and seen this several months ago.

Good evening Steve,

I have participated in the beta test and reported the problem April 13. The ticket number is 02752845.

Regards,

Jean

F1 was useful, I used to use it all the time to check syntax of fortran language features I don't use every day. Sad but the fastest way to get help now is to google it..... OK, I can live without F1 but....

I travel a lot and often fill time doing some work with no internet available. Online documentation only really really sucks and I really don't see what Intel gains out of making the product worse in this way. The benefit of paying maintenance is that the product gets better not worse.

 

Update:

1. To download PDF version of the Intel® Fortran Compiler 18.0 Developer Guide and Reference for offline usage:

2. The main reason for moving documentation online: We are now able to update documentation quickly without waiting for the next product release to deliver updated documentation as part of the Update (package).

3. Intel Registration Center(IRC) has the Intel Fortran Compiler Developer Guide for download as part of the larger "Intel Parallel Studio XE Documentation" package. You can download this package from the Subscription History page in IRC. F1 Notice regarding downloading documentation for offline use refers to this documentation package on Intel Registration Center.

4. Regarding the request to bring the F1 feature back: Please be assured that we have heard all of you. Your feedback is very important to us. This request was escalated to the proper department for consideration. 

 

Devorah - Intel® Developer Support

Devorah,

Very glad the 18.0 documentation is available as an off-line PDF. Not the same as F1 context sensitive access, but very helpful. Can you have someone look at and fix the problems in the PDF?  The text that lists of the (new) compiler options on pages 125. 126. 237,241, 424-428, 438  is messed up and difficult/impossible to read. Bad figures on 598, 2298-2300, 

I see the text "overstrikes" on p.125, etc., and they should be fixed. In the meantime, you can make the garbled text clear by simply selecting and copying the whole line in the PDF page, and then pasting the clipboard in an editor or at the command line.

I also encourage Intel to bring back the context sensitive F1 help for 2018 in VS.  It's removal is certainly a step backwards.  99% of the time I just use help to refresh my memory regarding a function, etc that has been in Fortran for years, but I haven't used in a while.  It would be fine if the local, off-line, context sensitive documentation might not include that latest editions/modifications.    Having a PDF copy is not the same.

I do like VS as an editor and their whole IDS, but it seems like it has been a constant source of upgrade trouble over the years, and it's getting worse. I remember when we complained (loudly in fact) when Microsoft decided to remove the support for color printing of our source codes. That was a real nuisance but nothing compared to this!

It brings up the questions: (1) why is it necessary for Intel to package every new release of Fortran with the latest (greatest NOT) version of VS? Is there some kind of political trouble in keeping with the same old VS for a long (, long, long) time? (2) Can there not be an option for Fortran users to just use an old version of VS--one they are familiar with and actually works well--even if the Fortran comes packaged with a later version? E.g. at installation time: "a compatible but older version of VS (ver. ?.?)  has been detected on your system - press X to use that or Y to use the current VS (ver. ?.?). I'm sure there are support issues with Microsoft in using old versions, but they might be less trouble than with using new versions.

I'd press X in an instant. 

I'll offer my observations based on experience. Of course, I no longer "speak for Intel".

Intel Visual Fortran is quite unusual in supporting three or sometimes four recent VS releases. This in itself poses numerous issues for the Intel developers. It's not just maintaining multiple packages (as Microsoft introduces incompatibilities with each new version) but also it's complicated making it possible to link against the MSVC libraries from any of the supported versions.

Since there is an ongoing cost for each additional VS version supported, it's not practical to keep old VS versions supported forever, especially when Microsoft drops support for them. In general, Intel followed Microsoft's lead in when to drop support for a VS version.

As for the bundled VS environment, yes, many customers do complain when that version is perceived as "obsolete", and Microsoft stops supporting updates for the older VS shells, so there's a strong pressure to try to keep reasonably current for the VS Shell. Counteracting that is the cost (both in development and business arrangements) to switch to a newer shell, but I've seen the gripes when the shell version lags so I think Intel is striking the right balance here.

I don't pretend to know what is behind the loss of F1 help, (my earlier supposition has been denied), and hope it can be restored. I don't think it's directly related to VS version changes.

Steve (aka "Doctor Fortran") - Retired from Intel

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