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

Final Day Save $50 - IP Networking Course September 2017 on Aug 17, 2017
Today, Thursday, August 17th is the last day to save $50 on the September IP Networking Course. This is the only networking course designed...
Vulnerability Directory For Access Control Cards on Aug 14, 2017
Knowing which access credentials are insecure can be unclear, especially because most look and feel the same. Even the most insecure 125 kHz types...
IP Camera Specification / RFP Guide 2017 on Aug 14, 2017
RFPs are hard. Do them 'right' and it takes a lot of knowledge and time. Do them 'wrong' and you can be (a) unwittingly locked into a specific...
Vivotek Acquisition Offer From Delta on Aug 10, 2017
One of the largest remaining independent video surveillance manufacturers has received an offer to become majority owned by Delta Group, a Taiwan...
Competing Against Schneider Electric on Aug 04, 2017
Schneider Electric overall does ~$30 billion USD annual revenue. One of its many parts is a building / security systems integrator. Another is...
Access Control Commissioning / Install Checklist on Aug 03, 2017
This 80+ point checklist helps end users, integrators and consultants verify that access control installation is complete. It covers the following...
Dahua 4K Turret Tested Vs Hikvision (N84BG44 ) on Aug 02, 2017
Dahua has released their latest low cost 4K model, the N84BG44, claiming Smart H.265+ and 50m IR range. We bought and tested this new model against...
Super Low Light Surveillance Guide on Aug 01, 2017
At the beginning of this decade, low light performance of megapixel cameras was generally terrible. This was the era of super slow shutter where...
IR Surveillance Guide on Jul 31, 2017
Infrared (IR) has become an increasing core component to video surveillance systems. In particular, the expansion of integrated IR cameras that...
Sports Stadium Security Design Recommendations on Jul 24, 2017
Sports stadiums pose many challenges for designing security systems. The facilities vary from being mostly vacant, to packed with tens of thousands...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Save $50 - IP Networking Course September 2017 on Aug 16, 2017
Tomorrow, Thursday, August 17th is the last day to save $50 on the September IP Networking Course. This is the only networking course designed...
Hikvision Responds To Cracked Security Codes on Aug 15, 2017
Hikvision has responded to IPVM's report on Hikvision's security code being cracked, both with a 2 page update to dealers and communication...
Stolen Video NVR / DVR Statistics on Aug 15, 2017
"But what happens if someone steals my recorder?" Anyone who has done more than a handful of jobs has probably heard this question several times....
Hikvision Europe Cutting Out Unauthorized End User Sales on Aug 15, 2017
The days of anyone buying Hikvision from anywhere off the Internet are numbered, at least in Europe, if Hikvision's plan comes to fruition. In...
Axis Laser Focus PTZ Tested on Aug 14, 2017
Axis has been touting its new Q6155-E laser focus PTZ as 'always in focus' and 'always in color'. Does it really deliver? We bought and tested...
Vulnerability Directory For Access Control Cards on Aug 14, 2017
Knowing which access credentials are insecure can be unclear, especially because most look and feel the same. Even the most insecure 125 kHz types...
IP Camera Specification / RFP Guide 2017 on Aug 14, 2017
RFPs are hard. Do them 'right' and it takes a lot of knowledge and time. Do them 'wrong' and you can be (a) unwittingly locked into a specific...
Cellphone Usage Issues For Integrators (Statistics) on Aug 11, 2017
Cellphones clearly offer significant advantages in communication and problem solving. But they can also be a major pain point if employees...
Rebooting IP Camera Statistics And Practices on Aug 10, 2017
Dahua cameras automatically reboot weekly, by default. Is this an innovation by the Chinese mega-manufacturer or a sign of a problems? 125...
Avigilon Profits Surge, Stock Jumps (Q2 2017) on Aug 10, 2017
Avigilon said earlier this year they would shift their strategy to maximizing profits. Now, they are delivering it and the stock market is...

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