Not long ago we did a survey to get your input, asking about the most important tasks that you perform with Microsoft developer technologies. The idea behind this, of course, is that we want to make the MSDN Library as useful for you as possible. This is the list of the top 4 needs, according to the survey:

  1. Samples and code
  2. API reference
  3. Debugging
  4. Best practices


These results are based on close to 700 responses, and the top tasks were consistent across all demographics—regardless of the type of apps you build, how long you've been using our tools, or the platform you use, the same top 4 needs emerged.

These survey results are leading to some pretty dramatic changes in prioritization around here. In the past, most of our energy went into documenting new Visual Studio features. This does make a certain amount of sense—we're here to document the product, and when there are new features, we need to tell you how to use them. But it was pulling our focus away from what you want.

So, what are we going to do about it? A big shift is taking place in the way we prioritize our time. The plan is to devote a majority of our time to documenting developer tasks like writing apps in a certain language or for a certain platform, and documenting API and language reference that supports important developer tasks. And yes, you'll see more code. We'll be working on this as soon as we finish up work on the Visual Studio 11 docs, which we're close to finishing now. We'll also be conducting usability tests to determine how successful people are at completing top tasks.

We think these changes will help you find what you want more often and more quickly. You can help by posting feedback here about the kind of guidance and code samples you'd like to see and why, and your top areas of difficulty with our tools.