Jun 18, 2007

MSDN Documentation Format Set for Change

Looks like the upcoming Orcas release of visual studio will have a new documentation format.  Why?  Well let me quote: "This new documentation presentation layer targets developer audience who need to find information quickly and easily in our documentation that grows significantly with every Visual Studio/.NET Framework release."

If you've ever spent more than 3.75 secs looking for information in the 2005 MSDN Library help system looking for anything more esoteric than the syntax for an if statement can be frustrating.

What's even better is that this search "if statement c#" doesn't even return a relevant result the if-else statement in the top 5 results - it's the 8th on the list!!  Below the top 3 ranked results of "lock statement (C#)", "using statement (C#)" and "fixed Statement (C#)".  Any improvement will be of value after that little effort!

My concern though, is that the changes listed for the MSDN documentation don't seem to address the real problem.  The changes are about disk space, screen scrolling and views, and filtering and restricting search contexts.  They don't seem to have realised that filtering doesn't improve relevancy, it just hides the problem.  I'll wait and see how the beta's look, but at this stage I'm not that hopeful of any greatly improved usefulness - google will probably stay as the main source of MSDN docs for now.

By the way the first 5 results for "if statement c#" on Google are all about the if statement - including the MSDN documentation entry for the if-else statement.

3 comments:

  1. Richard,
    This "VSORCAS" presentation layer will be released as a part of Sandcastle and will not be used for Orcas documentation shipping in MSDN anytime soon as we have to make changes to the online infrastructure. We will continue to use VS 2005 presentation for our Orcas release with additional design improvements.

    I will pass your feedback on filtering..etc to the MSDN team. MSDN is working on design improvements and recently released a new look and feel.

    Anand..
    Group Manager
    Develper Division
    Microsoft Corporation

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  2. Thanks Anand.

    I appreciate the somment. You might want to rethink the VSORCAS name then as it's going to be a point of confusion.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Richard,
    Thaat's a good suggestion. We can release a technical refresh for June CTP renaming "VSORCAS" to avoid any confusion.

    Anand..
    Group Manager
    Develper Division
    Microsoft Corporation

    ReplyDelete