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April 15, 2006 12:03 AM

Broken: Microsoft Access Visual Basic editor help

Florent Burroni writes:

I pushed the F1 button while working with Microsoft Access Visual Basic Editor, and I got this message:


Then, what was really wonderful was that when I press the Help button of the pop up message above, I got the message below:



1st post!

Posted by: JOe at April 15, 2006 12:09 AM

My favorite ones are the ones that ask "Yes/No?" but the buttons given are "Ok" and "Cancel."

Crazy Microsoft.

Posted by: =David at April 15, 2006 12:11 AM

That's too funny! Way too funny!

Posted by: piklocin at April 15, 2006 04:22 AM

Would you rather it do nothing when no documentation is availible? All its telling you is that there is no help documentation for the subject and you need to install something.

Not broken.

Posted by: Bonne at April 15, 2006 08:27 AM

Actually, Bonne, if you read the message, it's telling you the help application, which it is using to display the message, isn't available, and to install the very application that is displaying the message. Very broken.

Posted by: Misha at April 15, 2006 10:18 AM

I agree with Bonne. The standard help software is available, but the documentation containing the actual helpful information isn't referenced correctly.

Broken, but on the user side.

Posted by: Ian at April 15, 2006 01:13 PM

I'm going to have to agree with Misha: The error message help says NOTHING about the location of the library or the help documentation, but very clearly states that the APPLICATION is unavailable and the HELP VIEWER is in the wrong place or must be installed...which is obviously NOT the problem since it is currently displaying that very message!

And so what if the "documentation containing the actual helpful information isn't referenced correctly"? How is that "broken on the user side"? Isn't it up to MS to make sure their installer puts the required information where their software will be looking for it? At the VERY least shouldn't the help file for "unable to display help" give SOME sort of basic clue how to get the help viewer to be able to find and display the help? I know what paths and sectors are, but this message doesn't tell me what I'm supposed to look for (what's the filename? what's the folder?) or where the viewer expects to find it, just to make sure that it is "on your path"? What the hell is that supposed to mean? If it references the current path I'm working from, great...but what exactly am I supposed to go find and put there to get the damn help to work?

Completely useless and broken (and incorrect) error message AND help file!

Posted by: Hoki at April 15, 2006 01:38 PM

The fact that the program doesn't do whatever is necessary to install the help files when you install the program is broken. The user shouldn't have to look up help files of how to install their help files. That's ridiculous.

Plus, the error messages are of no help whatsoever because they offer no help on installing the files, or even linking to documents that would help you with that.

Posted by: Galen D. W. at April 15, 2006 01:52 PM

If you say this isn't broken, then what should the user do to fix it? The "Help" file says nothing about this except to install the viewer...that the user is using to view the help it apparently is already installed!

What it apparently needs to say is something like "The help library can't be viewed because it wasn't installed. Do this to go back and install it so you can view it:"

I'd venture a guess that the help files are but one optional component that may or may not be installed when the software is. Whether that is or is not the case, the solution above should fix the problem. What they do provide is definitely broken, in a typically MS way.

The whole point of help is so that people who don't think like MS drones can figure out how to get the software to work. If you're posting "not broken" then you have the same problem MS does: You're not allowing for others who think differently to be successful at using the software.

Hmmm...think different. Sounds like some other company's tag line....

Posted by: Erich at April 15, 2006 01:53 PM

Oh, great. Mac vs. PC flamewar in 3...2...1...

Posted by: Hoki at April 15, 2006 01:54 PM


Posted by: ? at April 15, 2006 03:10 PM

what is it with visual basic help files? my school had one but most of it was missing. have you ever tried teaching yourself visual basic through trial and error?

Posted by: BannanaSam at April 15, 2006 04:12 PM

Since when did "This is Broken" turn into "lets argue about whether or not This is Broken?"

Posted by: a eggroll at April 15, 2006 04:50 PM

All computer based instructions are broken. They should include a freaking manual like computers used to. If I knew how to operate this thing well enought to read the help files, I wouldn't need them. Doesn't matter anyway, 90% of the time the help section doesn't include the necessary info, so I have to pay someone with too much free time to duct tape this thing back together.

Posted by: Paul at April 15, 2006 10:28 PM

Actually the reason that there are no help files is because when you installed the Microsoft Visual Studio, you did not install the MSDN help files. During installation, it clearly states that if you don't install the help files you will not be able to use them later on. By not installing these help files, you set yourself up for this disaster. This is no one's fault but your own.

In conclusion, I do not find this amusing in the slightest.

Posted by: Rita at April 16, 2006 03:47 PM

So Rita, how would that user mistake relate to the wording of the error, which says that the APPLICATION is missing, and says nothing about the help files you mentioned repeatedly?

Posted by: gmangw at April 16, 2006 05:36 PM

>>Since when did "This is Broken" turn into "lets argue about whether or not This is Broken?"

Since the very first TIB post on June 20, 2003:

There are at least two "not broken" comments on the very first day this site was up.

Posted by: Erich at April 16, 2006 10:15 PM

>>This is no one's fault but your own.

First, not so: How many VB users are using school or corporate computers that are not only set up by IT departments, but by IT departments that specifically forbid the users to install anything. I would venture quite a few. Most programmers given the choice would be using better tools.

Second, so what? The whole point of the "Help" file is to "Help" me fix what is screwed up, whether I screwed it up or not. This "Help" file is no help!

Finally, I'm sorry we're not amusing you. I for one think this is pretty funny. :)

Posted by: Erich at April 16, 2006 10:22 PM


Third function: game play (maybe not a primary function)

BTW: Help that isn't helpful is broken.

Posted by: Randy at April 17, 2006 08:55 AM

>> The internet has 2 primary functions

>> 1. arguments and/or flames

>> 2. porn

>> anything else is strictly for geeks.

Um, I would respectfully point out that flames and porn on the Internet ARE promarily for geeks!

(and re. the original item that we're arguing about whether it's broken or not - it IS broken)

Posted by: Alex B at April 17, 2006 12:32 PM

Yes, debates about broken vs. not broken are legit - they are part of making "businesses more aware of their customer experience, and how to fix it." And even though the internet goes outside American borders let's give everyone, even the idiots who say this isn't broken, the right to express their opinions. Although I am fairly sure they are either M$ shills or just being obnoxious just because they can. How on earth could a reasonable person look at a help screen that offers nothing in the way of help and say that is reasonable/a good thing/not broken?

I was also going to say that online poker is another primary function of the internet but Randy covered that.

Posted by: Pat at April 17, 2006 02:40 PM

OK! This is going NOWHERE!!! The product itself is not broken but as you can see, the help IS broken! Leave it at that and the world might be at peace between geeks, non-geeks, Microsoft, Mac, and Linux!

Posted by: NCeJ at April 17, 2006 02:58 PM

I have to sort-of agree with asbestos. In short: MS =Broken. But now, as I am occasionally charged with providing online HELP to some software, I have a new option to confuse users. Kind of circular help. "If you can read this message, then you do not have the correct version installed.... etc. ". Sure is a lot easier then supplying REAL INSTRUCTION on what to do next. (end sarcasm).

Posted by: Major major at April 17, 2006 03:24 PM

This is not broken.

1) Where did the idea come from that the entire help system is broken? The message says "The Windows help application is not available." This means the particular .chm or .hlp file responsible for displaying VB help in Access can't be found, not that the entire help system is corrupt. Access help is obviously working fine, as you can see from the full '... choose keywords' list of topics.

2) Where did the idea come from that the viewer mentioned in the message is the one being used to display the message? It says 'the MSDN viewer', which is different from the standard window used by a .chm or .hlp. That window looks exactly like the one in the photo.

Conclusion ... not at all broken.

Posted by: Scottie at April 18, 2006 05:21 AM

I think it is broken because the first button says that it can not display help but it has help on the button.

Posted by: JAC at April 18, 2006 12:25 PM

OK, so I guess for those of us who don't have the secret decoder ring like Scottie that translates "The Windows help application is not available" into "the particular .chm or .hlp file responsible for displaying VB help in Access can't be found" it's broken.

Also, blaming the user for not installing help is simply ridiculous. If the message stated "you didn't install it fool, please do so" and explained how, then it wouldn't be broken.

And the Microsoft bashing is tiresome. Not a big fan myself, but the guy basically built an empire from his garage...kind of admirable even if the technology isn't all that impressive. They're a publicly traded company, their focus is on making money for stockholders, not technical purity or bug-free code. Therefore, captialism is broken.

P.S. Anyone know where I can get movies on Beta? VHS totally sucks.

Posted by: Tug at April 18, 2006 01:04 PM

I got this one from Cadence:

"Error while reporting error."

Posted by: Joe at April 18, 2006 02:10 PM

Needing help for the help for the help for whatever he needed help for in the first place is completely, redundantly broken.

Posted by: corky at April 18, 2006 03:34 PM

I had the same problem with Visual C++ the same day this was posted. While I was installing Visual Studios on my computer it asked me which programming software I wanted, I selected the ones I wanted and pressed next. I was then asked if I wanted to install help, when I selected yes and clicked next I was informed that help could not be installed without Microsoft Networking Developer (or something like that), which I had been told shouldn't be installed on my computer by a friend who is a programmer.

When I told him what had happened I was told that programmers never use the help function. :o

By the way I was under the impression that another prime function of the Internet is for advertising (although I guess that advertising is more or less arguing that your product is a necessity and the best available)

Another rapidly expanding function of the internet is eBay and similar sites.

Posted by: Sean P at April 18, 2006 05:07 PM

Posted by: JAC at April 19, 2006 12:30 PM

I just recently had a class where we worked solely in VB, and I must say that program is severely annoying and vexing. Just to get a C in that class is like getting an A in any other class, especially if it is your first time. Seriously. There were people in my class that were majoring in Computer Programming, and they didn't pass, failed, and even dropped the course!

Posted by: Erik's Mistress at April 22, 2006 11:05 AM

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