Back in the mid-90s, I had a model D20 AS/400 in my basement. Living in northern Indiana with the cold winters they have there, that 400 was part-time computer and part-time space heater! I vividly remember the day I unpacked the documentation for that box. That 400 came with 800 pounds, no exaggeration here (the manuals were lifted out of the truck on a skid with a forklift!), of printed manuals and about 60 white “IBM” embossed three-ring binders, that I always assumed were inspired by the Beatles’ White Album. Which, in the early days, unlike the later bloodless, gutless printed version, only had “The Beatles” embossed on the front in white on a white background.
A couple of years after I took delivery of that 400, IBM unveiled the “Softcopy Library.” Do you remember what a giant step forward it was to have all of the AS/400 documentation on the then-emerging format of the future, the CD? Until they reached wide release, only the in-crowd at COMMON had access to those early versions of the Softcopy Library CDs. I tried to trade my mother’s soul for one early on, to no avail. What flashed me back to those days, and the precious commodity that digital AS/400 documentation was back then, was the recent announcement that IBM is rolling out a new IBM Knowledge Center on the Web. This is a long overdue refresh. The old InfoCenter pretty much continues to echo the UI that was available on that Softcopy Library CD from nearly 20 years ago! And it performs as though all of the Internet tubes it uses are filled with molasses.
The new IBM Knowledge Center is available here and the beta runs through February 2014. It is much faster (much, much faster!) and features customization features so that you can store your own custom collections of manuals. The new Knowledge Center provides a much cleaner and modern looking user interface that the existing site. My (admittedly brief) use of it so far has been very pleasant and positive.
Spend some time with this Knowledge Center beta. I think IBM has done a great job. You can send your feedback to them here about the new beta site.