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How do you use UE4 documentation?

Hey everybody!
Here to ask you some questions about how you use the UE4 documentation or any documentation for that matter. This my seem like an odd question at first as most people might say, I just read through documentation. But think about how you actually read through or use documentation. Do you scan, and the only find the vital bits of info you need? Do you read through the whole document before you even attempt to try using a new tool or feature? Or do you like to use documentation side by side with the editor as a reference or even when first learning about a new feature? Do you try to stick more to tutorials and only use docs as a reference? Are short and simple docs more helpful(bullet points, short brief descriptions of tools) or are in depth looks at features/tools and practices more of what you like to see? or maybe there are certain methods you would like to see in UE4 documentation that we don’t use yet.

Everybody is welcome to talk freely about these questions and topics. I am here to talk with you all too and answer any questions :slight_smile:
Again, this is just a way to get ideas circulating about how well our documentation works and what we can improve upon … or maybe even add new things into the mix that you all would love to see!

As always, thank you all for your wonderful help and the dedication you all have for making the UE4 community so amazing!

  • Brandon

My steps how I use the documentation:

  1. I always use this search bar -> probably I can find a straight forward answer to my question in the forum/answerhub/wiki: https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest/INT/
  2. then I take a look at the “on this page” (the small index) or I search for the topic that I want to read about
  3. after that I always take a look at the pictures if they can probably explain me the topic
  4. when the pictures are not so useful, I read through the text :slight_smile:

I just read through the documentation when I’m stuck with something -> so I always try/use the new tool/feature before I read the documentation.
Due to my own video tutorial background, I like it when the documentation is full of pictures/videos/short explanations/bullet points -> not just “boring” text. For me it’s crucial whe it’s straigth to the point, because after something works (e.g when the documentation shortly explains how to set up a character) you will mostly know how and why it works. :smiley:

I read everything there is to it if we have a new, completely unfamiliar tool in the editor and i cant figure it out myself(like Behavior Trees) I dont usually check out tutorial like quick start sections unless they are short like this one. I actually read through that page > summarized it and gave the link to a user in AnswerHub today in 2min., and it seems to have solved their problem so far.(Keep Simulation Changes, experimental Actor Merging tool, RenderToTexture toolset and who knows what else are things most people dont know that exist in the editor)

Otherwise i just search for whatever i need to find out and scan the page very fast - bold keywords help a lot to skip through sentences faster. Green and red info bubbles help as well if i’m just looking at the documentation to see if there are any limitations/tricks of the tool i’m using.
As a reference for a part of the documentation i find very useful and well made > https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest/INT/Engine/Rendering/Materials/ExpressionReference/index.html
I love how simple yet explanatory all the descriptions and screenshots are for every expression type - it’s like a funfair made of cotton candy! It never bores me to visit that section whenever i need if i’m working on a semi-complex material.

Good stuff ! Definitely good information :slight_smile:

Is there anything not in the documentation (Technics, visual adds, so on) that you all would like to see maybe ? or more of a certain style of documentation or learning add?

Mainly I use it as a reference to look up what a certain node in the material editor does for example, or how to use a tool. The new tooltips in the editor are great for that, just hold Ctrl+Alt to read the description and there is a link to the specific documentation on that node/tool.

If I go looking for it myself I usually just use the search bar on the main page. It’s quick and easy most of the time (so long as I know what it’s called). Sometimes I will just start clicking through the links to find a certain topic that is more general, something like Blueprint Communication. I know my way around the pages pretty well and don’t have many issues with it, aside from the programming section… Still figuring that one out. :slight_smile:

The side bar Jeff showed us the other day will probably end up being the ideal method in the near future. I prefer to be able to expand categories to find a topic (like the MSDN Documentation for example) that remains open while searching for the info I need, allowing me to quickly go up or down a level without going back. Really looking forward to that!

I use it whenever I need to find out the purpose of a node or whatever!

What I’m not a fan of is when you search for something in documentation and it pulls up every AnswerHub, Wiki and everything about the topic.

I get WHY it works like this; But it’s just a hinderence to search the documentation you’re after and then click a few more buttons to get the actual documentation.

The way it currently acts is a lot like Google. In fact if you put the same search query into google and add “UE4” at the end; You’ll get pretty much the same results, So I don’t see the need to combine everything into the documentation search bar; Surely if you’re searching the documentation, you’re LOOKING for the documentation about a feature.

Saying that though, I understand why it is the way it is… I guess it’s just down to personal preference :stuck_out_tongue:

Hey Ryan,

Just in case you aren’t already aware, after you have done the initial search you can change it to only documentation by clicking here: :slight_smile:

95852ebc423f85ede93b6e58788df9b4ee1965ae.png

Yeah, I know it’s there but it just confuses me why you have to go Documentation > Search > Documentation > Result as as opposed to Doc > Search > Result.

You’d assume that it’d automatically load up the documentation results and the other fluff would come up as a sub-tab as opposed to being the main tab.

It used to default to the Documentation tab actually. This was just changed last week. Is this a big problem? Do you think it is worse or just different? We changed it partially because people often didn’t know the tabs were even there so they missed all sorts of useful links and partially because the search would break if it returned no results with a tab focused. It’s pretty easy to change back if we find that it had a negative impact on the majority of users though.

I guess it just boils down to personal preference. I’m sure I’ll get used to it in time!

Is there no way to default to documentation unless there’s no results (If there is no results, then show everything?) or maybe a simple setting cooking that users can use to set which one appears as default for them? :slight_smile:

I think the best way would be to default to all, but let the user choose from the initial search screen as well as afterwards. Maybe add a dropdown box or something similar between the textbox and the search button so the person searching can choose how to sort initially.

That would be my ideal choice, saves having to reload the search results afterwards.

To be honest, I rarely use the documentation to look up for C++ usage and example codes. I only use them when I wanted to know what C++ classes have the function I needed to override, and how to spell the function name correctly.

Google search, UE4 forums, and UE4 AnswerHub are the three main places for me to search or ask about C++ code usage and example codes.

I agree there can sometimes be an issue with the way the results are displayed. At times I’ve searched for a C++ class and it hasn’t come up at all in the results, only later realizing that it’s there but I had to click the Documentation/API tab to see it.

Also, and it’s possible this is something specific to my setup, but a while back (when the sidebar was introduced I think) the docs pages ceased to display the search box in the top right. It now briefly flashes as the page loads but is then hidden by this rather thick bar across the top which looks as if it should be mobile-only or something. Since then I’ve had to return to the documentation home page to do a new search, which is rather annoying.

Hey kamrann,
we do apologize for the search bar disappearing issue. It is a known issue and hopefully will have it fixed soon. It disappears most often when the window the documentation is open in is put into a narrow windowed view.

I usually start with a video stream of the topic if ones available, otherwise I use the wiki \ content examples.
One thing i’d love to do is be able to download some of the video tutorials to my tablet for on the go

Hey Gillies!
This is definitely something that has been passed around before. I will see what kinda of request I can put it to get more eyes on the subject of video downloads.
Thanks for the feedback,

  • Brandon

I use the Documentation to find stuff I forget all the time. My first time reading it, I read almost everything (exluding C++, that’s not for me) Now when I forget something or can’t seem to make something work I go back To the Doc. I also use it side by side with the editor. It’s nice to have it there just in case I have as my cousin calls it, A “Brain Fart.”
Also being able to download the vids would be a great addition.

I use the documentation as the first source of knowledge on the engine. If anything I use it as a portal to access other sources of information. I am a newb to the engine relatively speaking. I don’t even have an overview of everything it can do yet, I’m just going through every single page and reading it for the sake of reading it. I’d rather know my vehicle before I take it on the road. That still doesn’t count for experience, but it can give me a better idea of what to expect. I love the UE4 so far over any other solution.

That being said, I can’t learn blueprints well from the documentation, because there arent’ enough tutorials for imprelementation. It would be great to see some test bed scenarious similar to “Here’s how we did it!”
It would show me “how” to reproduce an effect, instead of just showing me the finished blueprint. Understanding the challenges behind building a blueprint are just as important as knowing how to put those pieces on a grid and hook them up.

Cheers, Rigel

People have different learning types (there is quite a bit of research into this that is freely accessible) and it is beneficial to support multiple approaches. I applaud your desire to gather feedback and use it to improve the docs.

I learn by example (MSMD - Monkey See, Monkey Do) and turn to pure documentation as a last resort.

I typically use this approach:

  • Start with what I imagine are relevant words/phrases and Google “unreal engine” or “UE4” and those words.
  • Browse the results, pick out the actual key words/phrases.
  • Google the UE4 Answerhub using “.site:answers.unrealengine.com” and those words. NOTE: I find this necessary because Answerhub search ‘ORs’ the words and I haven’t seen a way to make it ‘AND’ them.
  • If there is only one word, I will just go to Answerhub and switch to the appropriate section and then search.
  • If that doesn’t do it I Google with those words and “Unreal Engine Documentation” because that will bring me to the doc pages. Could also ‘.site’ that.
  • If that still doesn’t do it I then search the entire web using those key words/phrases.
  • Iterate the above adjusting the words/phrases used.
  • As a last resort I will post a question to Answerhub.

Greetings,

 I'm just about finished reading the documentation.  My style is to pick the topics that interest me most while still reading the prereqs in order.  Switching based on app ideas somewhat.  Seems to be a good method.  The documentation is quite well done.  I like how it is written where each section is inclusive of the information one might need if using as a reference (repeating where necessary) and also is an excellent straight through read.
 UE4 is incredible.  I especially enjoyed the animation section, c++ section and the profiling section.  Lots of great information there that I didn't expect.  :)  I also watched the video series and I'm very thankful that I learned from both methods as there were a few things that would have felt quite a bit more difficult had I not.  Even though I don't own a computer currently, I feel pretty well educated in UE4 and will be comfortable when I start to use it.  I have to give all the credit to the doc makers, video staff and the developers of UE4 all of which have done a fantastic job as have the others I surely left out.  :)  I'm also thankful that I don't have a computer yet or I would have been happily busy with UE4 and had to put off learning so much for later.  Only a few more sections to go.  I'm off to finish up profiling.  I think paper2d will be last.  I may have to skip that so I'm not tempted to make anything 2D.  ;)
 A line stating if the standalone APEX tool is usable for destructable cloth would be a good improvement as there seems to be quite a few non Maya/3DS users having some issues with it and seeking an alternative (though the messages were old )  Best regards.