J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

MSDN Library Home Mockup to Simplify Finding the Product Docs

MSDN Library Home Mockup to Simplify Finding the Product Docs

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The MSDN Library is the primary showcase of our Microsoft product documentation.  It’s a treasure trove of gems.  The problem is, if you don’t know where to look, sometimes finding the documentation you’re looking for can be a challenge.   Part of your success hinges on finding the right information, so let’s see what we can do about that.

I put together a mockup of the MSDN Library Home for the MSDN Library team as an example of one way to showcase some key starting points for some popular technologies on the MSDN Library Home.   Here is the model:

Category

Items

Cloud

Desktop

Games

Phone

Services

Web

Data

Here are some key points about the model:

  1. App Hubs / Pillars.  The model is organized around higher-level buckets: Cloud, Desktop, Games, Phone, Services, Web, and Data.
  2. Key Technologies.  The App Hubs/Pillars group key technologies.  For example, Cloud includes Windows Azure, SQL Azure, and the Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio.
  3. Home Page, API Reference, How Tos, and Walkthroughs.  Rather than exhaustive, it’s a focus on a subset of the content.  In this case, it’s optimized around helping you find the starting point in the product documentation as well as some of the most popular content, including the API reference and code samples.

Special Thanks …
Special thanks to the following people for helping me find the main starting points and put the frame together:  Alik Levin, Eric Peterson, Jesse Liberty, Joe Stagner, Jon Galloway, Paul Enfield, Pete Brown, Rey Bango, Rob Boucher, Sam Landstrom, Scott Hanselman, Tim Teebken, Wade Pickett 

If you have thoughts on the model, send my way.

  • Looks great, could you add "Products", so if you wanted to get to the VS2010 doc home page or Expression Blend home page it'd be an easy link?  Thanks!

  • @ Paul -- I think that makes sense.  At a high-level, I think I would frame it as platform, tools, and languages.  The technologies above would fall under platform, VS/Expression would fall under tools, and then languages would list out C#, VB.NET, F#, etc.

    I think it would be a matter of chunking up my Microsoft App Platform Map.

  • We really appreciate all of the efforts to develop taxonomies around the MSDN and patterns group content. Makes it MUCH easier to locate the information -- especially for more junior developers. One thing we have been doing is leveraging Pivot to make navigating various developer content datasets easier. For example, we created an internal Pivot application using your previous ASP.NET Developer Guidance Map. My question is this: why doesn't Microsoft leverage Pivot more for navigating data sets like MSDN, etc?

  • @ Doug -- Pivot is definitely a fun technology and will move the ball forward for visualizing information.  The MSDN team has been testing using Pivot on some of their data sets.  Check out the MSDN Magazine and test their "Launch the Pivot Viewer".

  • Can you help me with this...

    I am building a windows application and i am facing this error "Unable to install or run the application. The application require that assembly Microsoft.SqlServer.DataProfilingTask Version 10.0.0.0 be installed in the Global Assembly Cache (GAC) first." when i try to install it to another machine with Windows XP OS.

    Another problem that i am facing is of remote connectivity. previously when the application got sucessfully installed it did not connect to the Server machiene with Windows server 2003 R2 OS. The firewall is off, the connection string works fine but still non of the other machien is being connected to the SQL Server Instance.

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