Helpful Documentation

Given the time that WM has been around, and the fact that it is more complex than some other programs, I think the documentation is sadly lacking.

When we want to use important tools, and utilize features that ease workload, knowing how to use those features is vital.

Just for comparison, Unity, UE, CryEngine, etc., all have detailed documentation, even if we were to exclude videos, they explain every “dot” in the program.

Not so WM. One has to feel themselves through features that are there, which would make work easier.
One example is the River device. There are features like “Load Reach from File”, and “Switch Upstream end”. Cool. :sunglasses: So I can load my rivers from a file! Wow! I can actually put all the rivers in without having to hand-draw each one! Great! :triumph:
Wait though… :thinking:
How should my file look? What should it contain? Can it have a whole lot of rivers, or just one?

That’s where the docs come in handy. I usually download the docs, but I have not done that yet, so I google. Found something. River Device
I reach the end of the page, and it does not include an explanation for this feature. :disappointed:

Not the case with complex tools popular with Graphics artist and developers, as far as I know.
Is Blender well documented? I don’t know, but I am sure to find a video explaining any feature in Blender, because it is extremely popular.

I think WM is a great program, as I am recently discovering. I think its usefulness can be greatly improved if the documentation was more thorough, and did not leave out features, as if they were unimportant, or the documentation needed to be just a few lines or pages.
Or are the feature just too basic, to require mentioning? What about the poor novice like me. :frowning_face:
Sorry to be so lengthy. :smile:

Now I will do the next thing where the documentation fails - ask a
question on the forums, about loading a reach from a file to the River Device. Thankfully, my internet connection is behaving. :pleading_face:

@Jillinger Have you tried going to your menu bar, then “File>Open example world”? You may find some very detailed, fully explained in text, actual projects demonstrating features like “rivers” etc. New example worlds are shipped with every stable build of world machine, explaining new features along with a live demonstration. There are also “tutorials projects” about basics of world machine in there. Imho, explains the process much better a booklet would.

That said, yeah I agree to an extent. A detailed “node reference” is long overdue.

Screenshots of mentioned river example:

I agree that detailed documentation is long overdue, but considering that software with actually detailed documentation will almost certainly have a significantly larger staff than World Machine does, it would probably be better/more likely to happen if users took it upon themselves to write detailed articles for the documentation. While users may not know exactly what different settings are doing under the hood (though I feel in most cases they will), they’ll at least be able to say what settings do in the “real world”.

Also, as far as tutorials go, @HYLK has some videos on YouTube. I haven’t seen some of the newer ones, but I did check out the introduction video and skimmed through the first, and I think they would be super helpful to novices!

Also, the benefits of just straight experimentation cannot be overstated enough for World Machine. There are so many effects and land shapes that you can get by intentionally using devices in ways that they weren’t designed to be used. Uses like that would almost certainly be missed in documentation, and could leave a potential user thinking that certain things couldn’t be done.

@WFab and @blattacker yes thanks, I did go through all the examples in search of things I was interested in, and I thought it was helpful. I even built my own little documentation on some macros, using screenshots.
However, I didn’t come across the one I was particularly interested in - “reach from file”. The river tutorial in the documentation is good. I definitely will be using that amazing feature! :triumph:

That’s my concern really, that such a good tool should have an equally - not just good, but thoroughly good documentation. :smile:
Lumberyard just came out, and the documentation was like it was designed for a child… like me. :smiley: No trial and error required there.

So say I did load a png file with all my rivers masked (white), and it did not work. Me :frowning_face: :sob: :cry:
Not very encouraging.

I just downloaded the more recent version of WM, as mine was ancient, Lol. So maybe that will be a much easier experience. :smile:

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Certainly agree with your points and share your frustration. And as @blattacker mentioned, it would be sweet to have community created docs, as it would take away a lot of work from the dev team. @Stephen, is it possible to maybe create a special category, dubbed “documentation”, where we can (temporarily) host a community based documentation? Alternatively, if that is not possible and if Stephen doesn’t mind, I could host a community driven docs on my own site, but that will take some time (read: quite some time) to get up and running.

Quite some time sound like “quite some time”, but I think anytime we want excellent quality, we need to take quite some time. People do a lot of rush jobs in this day and age, and we see how much quality suffers. Better to sacrifice time than quality, I think.
There will always be buyers of excellent quality. :smiley:

In the meantime, I just need help with this one feature. I will start a new topic, and let you guys know.

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Totally agree, hence it would take quite some time in order for me to get it up and running, as I would want the user experience to be flawless :stuck_out_tongue:

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