Rob Caron

Developer-related topics and other stuff.

Groundhog Day at MSDN

Groundhog Day at MSDN

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Last month, my wife and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. It's not romantic, but one of the topics of conversation this time of year is our constant struggle with clutter at home, and how much we've accumulated over the years. Eighteen years ago, we had a one-bedroom apartment that was so empty it echoed, and we could transport our worldly possessions in a few car trips. Fast forward to the present day. Now we need to rent a large truck and make a couple of trips between old home and new.

Within a few weeks of our anniversary, we usually spend a number of weekends sorting through the house to identify stuff we no longer want or need. In the process, we try to organize better what we do keep. We also try to establish some rules about what we keep and how to purge stuff throughout the year. Yet every year, we end up with as much clutter, or more.

What does this have to do with MSDN? Well, six months ago today I started a new job on a new team within Developer Marketing to work on Developer Tools Content Strategy (So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish). Since founding this team, Sam Gazitt and I have been surveying the landscape to figure out what stuff we own, what stuff we influence, and what stuff is out of bounds. One of the biggest things is content on MSDN and a bunch of dev centers.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a meeting with my boss, my boss's boss, and my boss's boss's boss to review my team's objectives. In that meeting, the latter boss indicated that our top priority is to clean up content on MSDN. In addition, he noted that our team is to focus on the broader area of developer content strategy, not just developer tools.

Discussing the clean up in that meeting, I had the same feeling of déjà vu I get each year at home. I'm no stranger to content clean up; I was in Developer User Education (one of the largest teams pumping content into MSDN Library) for over 7 years. Perhaps I'm playing Bill Murray's character, Phil Connors, in Groundhog Day. I have to keep repeating this process until I get it right. The difference this time is that the job is much larger and has the potential for greater impact.

In an upcoming post, I'll share some ideas we have to not only clean up our content mess, but also how we can better structure the content we have to improve discoverability and comprehension.

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  • I hope there is a project to redo the online msdn content navigation.

  • J.D. Meier on Structuring Projects for Team Foundation Server. Buck Hodges on Channel 9 interview...

  • As noted in posts I made back in March ( Groundhog Day at MSDN ) and in April ( Déjà Vu All Over Again

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