[Ed. note: The data analysis in this posting was made possible by the work of JP Bagel, Rod Chisholm (Excel Programming Writer), and Mike Stowe (Access Programming Writer). All I've done here is copy and paste their work. -dgh]

In the 2007 Microsoft Office System, the developer content for VBA-enabled applications was moved to Office Online. This enabled a connection which never existed before, and increased our insight into which help topics are most important (from a raw usage as well as verbatim comments point of view). Our theory is that people who are looking at this content are obviously using those sections of the Object Models, so it gives us a good indication of what areas/features are the most used as well.

Last week I joined my boss, Jean Philippe Bagel (Developer Content Group Manager) aka "JP", as he led a talk with Office Developer MVP's who are interested in the developer help content on MSDN. JP shared what the data has been revealing to us and what we would like to do about it. This was the first time the Office Developer User Assistance team has ever shared so much data, and the opportunities to collaborate with us have never been greater.

Over the next few posts, I'm hoping to post some of the detailed analysis for a few of the applications for which we have numbers. As I post this data, I would welcome anyone, MVP or otherwise, who might have something to contribute to improving the VBA docs: code samples, articles, or ideas.

To get things started, here is a graph that shows the growth in page views of the entire VBA help content collection since RTM in November of 2006. We cannot share the specific numbers of page views, but this does give you a since of the steadily increasing number of developers reading the content.

Bar graph of total usage since RTM.

Within that content set, here is the breakdown of which applications/areas are getting the most views:

Bar graph of app page views.

So, you can see that, by far, Excel, Access, and the Visual Basic Core Reference topics receive the most views. Finally, here is a drill down on the percentage of views the various sections of the Access reference receive.

Pie chart of Access view percentages by section.

So, what can we learn from this? For one thing, it suggests that we should emphasize our content creation efforts around the Access Dev Reference and the ACE Errors topics. In a future post, I'll show more detailed data, such as the top 20 objects, member, and How-To topics for several references. I'll also provide insight into our analysis of the comments that we receive from readers.

Finally, other members of the Office Client Applications Developer Doc team hope to post listings of the top "How Do I?" requests from our readers. I invite you to contact me if you would like contribute to beefing up these areas and we can discuss the details. Also, please feel free to use this blog to suggest areas you’d want us to cover in more depth.

-David