Coming to work here nearly a year ago, I already had an appreciation for SDKs. They are some of the greatest treasures a developer can find. In all my development experience, I have found that Microsoft SDKs are really quite good. But, what does it take to get one out the door? Here, is a little of a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes for us to get SDKs into your hands, as far as Office-related SDKs go (but, I am guessing that our process is not unique in Redmond).
Simply put, the product teams develop the product, but the kind of help documentation you will want and need is not an afterthought. We try to anticipate needs (we stay in touch with the community) and line up world-class documentation right from the start. It's hard to give all programmatic feature the same level of attention, but we write as much as we can, put in code samples, code-walkthroughs, develop utilities and so forth. To be sure, not all programs get their own SDK, even though they normally get some kind of treatment in language reference documentation, articles, or other venues. Once the SDK is ready to go, we try to get it to the community without unnecessary delay. We publish SDKs in two primary ways. First, we publish SDKs as a download. This is the easiest way for us to get it into the hands of developers as quickly as possible. The SDK is a help file accompanied by other extractable contents. Second, we put the content in the MSDN Library online while it also gets packaged up to be available for those who have an MSDN Library subscription. In this way, the content is available for both online and offline use in a pretty convenient way.
The publishing of the SDKs as downloads and the publishing of the online content are work items that go through my inbox at some point, and there is a lot to keep track of. Fortunately, I am only one little twig in a large fire. As you can imagine, there is a lot of coordination that goes on to bring these things to the public. Do you have suggestions for our SDKs and content on the Office Developer Center (http://msdn.microsoft.com/office)? Post a comment.