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Survey Results

What makes great documentation?

Survey period: 12 Aug 2019 to 19 Aug 2019

Great docs can convince us to use a product. Bad docs just make our lives painful.

OptionVotes% 
It contains code samples50872.78
It includes step-by-step instructions to complete specific tasks42460.74
It provides information targeted towards novice users33648.14
It provides information targeted towards advanced users30643.84
It includes a walk-through of a sample application31745.42
It lists common API calls31845.56
Is comprehensive and covers every possible scenario (within reason)19828.37
It provides a quick overview of the key points in the documentation39857.02
Other (please comment)486.88
Respondents were allowed to choose more than one answer; totals may not add up to 100%

View optional text answers (49 answers)


 
GeneralConsidering the audience, part 2 Pin
Gary R. Wheeler16-Aug-19 14:31
Gary R. Wheeler16-Aug-19 14:31 
GeneralProvides an outside-in view Pin
Amarnath S14-Aug-19 5:02
professionalAmarnath S14-Aug-19 5:02 
GeneralAll of the Above Pin
Sammuel Miranda13-Aug-19 8:47
professionalSammuel Miranda13-Aug-19 8:47 
GeneralIt draws "the big picture", showing the architecture - how pieces fit together Pin
kalberts13-Aug-19 1:02
kalberts13-Aug-19 1:02 
Programmer's documentation and end user documentation alike: Lots of it provides a whole bunch of details without guidance to how it fits together, and from the pieces of information that the reader can intially grasp, he builds his own mental infrastructure ... which may be quite wrong and misleading. It takes a long time to un-learn as he reads to the end of the documentation, and usually even a lot of practical experience to realize that the initial concepts were incorrect.

I was in a few software projects where the first thing we did was developing an Entity-Relationship data model with the customer, showing how all of the information related to each other. Only after having discussed that overall model with the customer did we start code design. This was truly great for communicating to the users, the customer, how the software actually operated on the data.

Similarly when I need to learn some new code base: I look for descriptions of major data structures and how they fit together, how processes and modules interact, at the overall level. Later, I can dive down to the specific APIs, but first I must know its place in the world. That is what documentation is for! The specific APIs can be found in the code. There is no real reason to extract API declarations and comments lines and make a PDF file out of it: When I need it, I can find it in the code. I need documentation for what I can not easily see from the code.
GeneralRe: It draws "the big picture", showing the architecture - how pieces fit together Pin
MikeTheFid13-Aug-19 4:45
MikeTheFid13-Aug-19 4:45 
GeneralIt exists PinPopular
kalberts13-Aug-19 0:43
kalberts13-Aug-19 0:43 
GeneralRe: It exists Pin
Chris Maunder13-Aug-19 3:18
cofounderChris Maunder13-Aug-19 3:18 
GeneralDepends on the audience Pin
CHill6012-Aug-19 23:13
mveCHill6012-Aug-19 23:13 
GeneralRe: Depends on the audience Pin
Chris Maunder13-Aug-19 3:17
cofounderChris Maunder13-Aug-19 3:17 
GeneralRe: Depends on the audience Pin
Rick York13-Aug-19 13:25
mveRick York13-Aug-19 13:25 
GeneralRe: Depends on the audience Pin
CHill6014-Aug-19 0:46
mveCHill6014-Aug-19 0:46 
GeneralIt's 2019. I m looking for video/gif/screen shots in example Pin
Anurag Gandhi12-Aug-19 8:55
professionalAnurag Gandhi12-Aug-19 8:55 
GeneralRe: It's 2019. I m looking for video/gif/screen shots in example Pin
CHill6012-Aug-19 23:11
mveCHill6012-Aug-19 23:11 
GeneralRe: It's 2019. I m looking for video/gif/screen shots in example Pin
jackbrownii13-Aug-19 5:22
professionaljackbrownii13-Aug-19 5:22 
GeneralRe: It's 2019. I m looking for video/gif/screen shots in example PinPopular
Marc Clifton13-Aug-19 8:06
mvaMarc Clifton13-Aug-19 8:06 
GeneralRe: It's 2019. I m looking for video/gif/screen shots in example Pin
kalberts13-Aug-19 20:42
kalberts13-Aug-19 20:42 
AnswerOther - Overview of what the application/framework/library is able to do. Pin
Member 1125611712-Aug-19 7:46
Member 1125611712-Aug-19 7:46 
GeneralOrganized, easily searchable, indexed, table of contents, reference links, UP TO DATE, and I can add my own comments! Pin
Marc Clifton12-Aug-19 3:03
mvaMarc Clifton12-Aug-19 3:03 
GeneralRe: Organized, easily searchable, indexed, table of contents, reference links, UP TO DATE, and I can add my own comments! Pin
kalberts13-Aug-19 1:16
kalberts13-Aug-19 1:16 
GeneralThe Premise is wrong PinPopular
#realJSOP11-Aug-19 23:22
professional#realJSOP11-Aug-19 23:22 
PraiseRe: The Premise is wrong Pin
Slacker00712-Aug-19 1:08
professionalSlacker00712-Aug-19 1:08 
GeneralRe: The Premise is wrong Pin
Ryan Peden12-Aug-19 3:03
professionalRyan Peden12-Aug-19 3:03 
GeneralRe: The Premise is wrong Pin
Chris Maunder12-Aug-19 3:05
cofounderChris Maunder12-Aug-19 3:05 
GeneralRe: The Premise is wrong Pin
#realJSOP12-Aug-19 3:16
professional#realJSOP12-Aug-19 3:16 
GeneralRe: The Premise is wrong Pin
Chris Maunder13-Aug-19 3:30
cofounderChris Maunder13-Aug-19 3:30 

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