Should Manufacturers Publicly Share Technical Docs?

Author: John Honovich, Published on Feb 01, 2010

Technical documentation is important for evaluating products and learning how to optimally use them. User manuals, training materials and videos are some of the most critical. Despite this, a significant number of manufacturers provide no on-line access to this information or only after becoming a registered partner.

The question we examine here: Should these materials be made publicly available?

What Do You Think?

Sharing Publicly is Essential

We believe sharing technical documentation publicly on-line is essential for integrators and end users to effectively evaluate and use products. With today's technology, it's simple for manufacturers to not only share all their user manuals but their training materials as well.

Those Who Do Not Share Are Often Hiding

While manufacturers often talk about 'protecting' this information, we believe the most common reason is that manufacturers are:

  1. Hiding how difficult their products are to use or
  2. Hiding that their products cannot meet their marketing claims in 'normal' production environments.

While some manufacturers may have 'forgot', we have seen a high correlation between not providing this information and hiding problems. Lack of publicly available technical documentation is a 'yellow flag' or warning sign for our analysis.

Examples of Sharing Documentation

Most of the large manufacturers provide extensive documentation. Here are a few quick examples:

  • Bosch's IP cameras offer A/E specifications, CAD drawings, Installation Guide, User manual, Technical Service Notes, Selection Guides, etc.
  • Pelco's IP cameras offer A/E specifications, CAD drawings, Installation Guide, User manual, Quick Start Guide, safety instructions, etc.
  • Axis's thermal cameras released just last week already have Installation Guide and User Manual, etc.

Most manufacturers offer extensive technical documentation available for immediate access and download. These 3 are simply to provide reference to those who might be unfamiliar with this type of material.

On the other hand, quite a number of providers share very limited or no technical documentation publicly including Firetide, Genetec, DVTel and BRS Labs (who amazingly does not even provide a data sheet).

Benefits and Use of Providing This Information Publicly

Here are a few common benefits/use of publicly providing information:
  • A technician is in the field encounters a problem. It is after the manufacturer's business hours, the technician can simply go to the website, download the documentation and find an answer.
  • A technician has not been to training and has been assigned to install or service a product. He does not know the login to the manufacturer's partner portal nor does he have time to track this down. Again, he simply goes to the website, downloads the documentation and finds an answer.
  • An integrator or end user is evaluating different products and are checking for a few key features that are must haves for their use case. Without having to attend sales calls or fill out applications, they can quickly go to the website and learn for themselves.

Unlike brochures or marketing propaganda, technical documentation is generally quite accurate and reveals important limitations. This is a key reason we find technical documentation to be so useful in our analysis.

Recommendations

We recommend you look for technical documentation on all products you are evaluating. If you do not find them publicly on-line, be careful (especially when the company boasts aggressive marketing claims).

1 report cite this report:

Manufacturer's #1 Complaint: Integrator Errors on Jan 28, 2012
I have never seen manufacturers so passionate nor united than on the topic of integrator error. In our recent debate about manufacturer product...

Related Reports

Fail: Dahua "Didn't Check The Lux Levels but It Was Dark" on Jul 20, 2018
Dahua UK has been promoting their camera quality on LinkedIn: I, and others, asked what the lux level of the scene was. (background: Lux Rating...
Improved Security And Surveillance Bidding - 2018 MasterFormat Divisions Examined) on Jul 19, 2018
Navigating the world of system specifications and bidding work can be complex and confusing, but a standard format exists, and understanding it...
Directory of Video Surveillance Startups on Jul 18, 2018
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known entity...
Ladder Lockdown and Ladder Levelizer Tested on Jul 18, 2018
Ladders are a daily necessity for surveillance and security installers, but working on an unstable surface can be extremely dangerous. In addition...
Installing Dome Cameras Indoors Guide on Jul 16, 2018
IPVM is producing the definitive series on installing surveillance cameras. This entry covers one of the most common scenarios - installing dome...
Last Chance - July 2018 IP Networking Course on Jul 12, 2018
Registration ends today, Thursday. Register now. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance...
4 Most Difficult Camera Installs (Statistics) on Jul 12, 2018
Heavy housings, cumbersome brackets, heavy ladders required, and tricky field of view requirements will cause difficulties no matter the camera...
Drops Dahua, Fenner Becomes ISS CMO on Jul 09, 2018
Hired to improve Dahua's miserable marketing just last year, Janet Fenner has quit Dahua, joining VMS manufacturer ISS as Chief Marketing...
GDPR For Access Control Guide on Jul 03, 2018
Electronic access control is common in businesses plus organizations are increasingly considering biometrics for access control. With GDPR coming...
Replacing / Switching Access Control Systems Guide on Jun 28, 2018
Ripping out and replacing access control systems is hard for important reasons. Because users typically hold on to access control systems for as...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Free 100+ Manufacturer-Customized Camera Calculator Released on Jul 19, 2018
Now, any manufacturer has a customized IPVM Camera Calculator, free. The goal is to make it easier for companies to help their customers better...
Improved Security And Surveillance Bidding - 2018 MasterFormat Divisions Examined) on Jul 19, 2018
Navigating the world of system specifications and bidding work can be complex and confusing, but a standard format exists, and understanding it...
Last Chance - Security Sales Course Summer 2018 on Jul 19, 2018
Today is the last day to register. Based on member's interest, IPVM is offering a security sales course this summer. Register Now - IPVM Security...
Directory of Video Surveillance Startups on Jul 18, 2018
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known entity...
Ladder Lockdown and Ladder Levelizer Tested on Jul 18, 2018
Ladders are a daily necessity for surveillance and security installers, but working on an unstable surface can be extremely dangerous. In addition...
FST Fails on Jul 17, 2018
FST was one of the hottest startups of the decade, selected as the best new product at ISC West 2011 and backed with tens of millions in...
Axis ~$100 Camera Tested on Jul 17, 2018
Axis has released their lowest cost camera ever, the Companion Eye Mini L, setting their sights on a market dominated by Hikvision and Dahua. Can...
Amazon Ring Alarm System Tested on Jul 16, 2018
Amazon Ring is going to hurt traditional dealers, and especially ADT, new IPVM test results of Ring's Alarm system underscore. IPVM found that...
Hikvision Wins Chinese Government Forced Facial Recognition Project Across 967 Mosques on Jul 16, 2018
Hikvision has won a Chinese government tender which requires that facial recognition cameras be set up at the entrance of every single mosque...
Installing Dome Cameras Indoors Guide on Jul 16, 2018
IPVM is producing the definitive series on installing surveillance cameras. This entry covers one of the most common scenarios - installing dome...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact