Should Manufacturers Publicly Share Technical Docs?

By: 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).

[premium_content]

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

Security / Privacy Journalist Sam Pfeifle Interview on May 24, 2019
Sam Pfeifle is best known as the outspoken former Editor of Security Systems News. After that, he was publications director at the International...
Average Frame Rate Video Surveillance 2019 on May 23, 2019
What is the average frame rated used in video surveillance systems? In IPVM's 2011 statistics, the average was 6-8fps increasing to ~10fps in...
Dahua USA Celebrates 5 Years of Errors on May 22, 2019
Dahua USA is, in their own words, 'celebrating' 5 years in North America or as trade magazine SSN declared: Dahua Technology finds success in...
Access Control Job Walk Guide on May 22, 2019
Significant money can be saved and problems avoided with an access control job walk if you know what to look for and what to ask. By inviting...
Amazon Ring Public Subsidy Program Aims To Dominate Residential Security on May 20, 2019
Amazon dominates market after market. Quitely, but increasingly, they are doing so in residential security, through a combination of significant...
Inside Look Into Scam Market Research on May 17, 2019
Scam market research has exploded over the last few years becoming the most commonly cited 'statistics' for most industries, despite there clearly...
Maglock Selection Guide on May 16, 2019
One of the most misunderstood yet valuable pieces of electrified hardware is the maglock. Few locks are stronger, but myths and confusion surround...
Bank Security Manager Interview on May 15, 2019
Bank security contends with many significant threats - from fraudsters to robbers and more. In this interview, IPVM spoke with bank security...
Vivotek Talks About Taiwan, China, Bans, AI And Business Development on May 10, 2019
Vivotek, Taiwan's biggest manufacturer by revenue, did not have a booth at Taiwan's Secutech 2019 (which we are covering). However,...
Verkada False Allegations Against Avigilon Exposed on May 08, 2019
Verkada has leveled false allegations against Avigilon, as part of their aggressive marketing tactics against the 'dinosaurs' in the 'ancient'...

Most Recent Industry Reports

NJ Law Requires Apprenticeship For Public Works Integrators on May 24, 2019
Few integrators do a formal apprenticeship program. However, now a NJ law is requiring any integrator on public works projects (such as state...
Security / Privacy Journalist Sam Pfeifle Interview on May 24, 2019
Sam Pfeifle is best known as the outspoken former Editor of Security Systems News. After that, he was publications director at the International...
Verkada Video Quality Problems Tested on May 23, 2019
Verkada suffers from numerous video quality problems, not found in commercial IP cameras, new IPVM testing of Verkada vs Axis and Hikvision...
Average Frame Rate Video Surveillance 2019 on May 23, 2019
What is the average frame rated used in video surveillance systems? In IPVM's 2011 statistics, the average was 6-8fps increasing to ~10fps in...
Access Control Job Walk Guide on May 22, 2019
Significant money can be saved and problems avoided with an access control job walk if you know what to look for and what to ask. By inviting...
ASCMA / Monitronics Declares Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Plan on May 22, 2019
Monitronics is entering into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company, also called Ascent Capital Group Inc., aka ASCMA, aka Brinks Home Security,...
US Considers Sanctions Against Hikvision and Dahua on May 22, 2019
The US government is considering blacklisting "up to 5" PRC surveillance firms, including Hikvision and Dahua, Bloomberg reported, with human...
Dahua USA Celebrates 5 Years of Errors on May 21, 2019
Dahua USA is, in their own words, 'celebrating' 5 years in North America or as trade magazine SSN declared: Dahua Technology finds success in...
Axis ~$150 Outdoor Camera Tested on May 21, 2019
Axis has released the latest in their Companion camera line, the outdoor Companion Dome Mini LE, a 1080p integrated IR model aiming to compete with...
Covert Facial Recognition Using Axis and Amazon By NYTimes on May 20, 2019
What if you took a 33MP Axis camera covering one of the busiest parks in the US and ran Amazon Facial Recognition against it? That is what the...

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