John picked up on my note, and took the time to return with his thoughs about documentation (On Documentation). It is interesting to read the views of someone coming from the tech support part of a software house such as Macromedia – and the ways that their tasks have changed as they move more towards offering products that are made to create new applications/products, and less and less just “clean” applications like word processors. (Not that they ever did make word processors, but you hopefully understand where I am going).
I think Macromedia is on the right track when it comes to making available resources for their products, both in the ways of tutorials, articles, the Macromedia Exchange etc. But as a developer I find that most of the time what I am doing is coding, and what I am looking for from a vendor is not tutorials, components etc, but rather good structured documentation of functions etc. often needed when coding. And that is something I haven’t been able to find a good resource for at Macromedia Online for any of their products. (They do offer books for reference to ActionScript etc, and also ship their products with documetnation on CD-rom, but it seems they have decided to skip making that available online).
I took some time to look through their site today, and I could find technotes, tutorials etc, but no well stuctured and well written documentation of their scripting languages. (Such as Flash MX, Coldfusion (CFML) etc.) I could not find any easy links to such content on the Macromedia site, but there are tons of tutorials, articles and other content. I must admit, I am kind of baffled at the lack of the part of the documetnation I would have thought was most important.
NB: David Burrows is also writing about documentation and commenting on the RTFM article. I like his metaphor: “Documentation as narrative? I’d prefer to think of it as building a house”