Downloadable Documentation is important

Posted on:June 26 2011

Dear developers, if you are creating a software library to be used by other programmers, then you need documentation. Without that, nobody will use your library. Simply because nobody will know how. And if you provide some documentation, putting it on your website won't be enough. It must be possible to download it somewhere.

I am currently integrating a C library into a project I am working on, and there is only the documentation available on the website. Contacting the developers, asking them to provide the docs as download somewhere resulted in the following answer: "We want you to use always the latest version of our documentation. So simply use the one on the website". Great, but that doesn't help me. I'm probably not going to update the C library in my software all the time. I need the documentation of the version of library I am using now. And, I'm not going to rely on your webserver. What if it goes down? What if you suddenly decide to stop the project and delete all content on your server? What if it gets hacked?

So, I just used a Website downloader, and grabbed the whole 200 MB of your entire website. Just to get the documentation of your library. (And interestingly, I also found some embarrassing private pictures of one of the developers by doing that, but that's another story.) I don't think other developers will go that path, they probably will simply use another library.


Pics or it didn't happen ;-)

On a serious note, I fully agree that downloadable documentation is a must. On the other hand, I tend to refer back to the website as I always have a browser open and it's quicker for me to go there than to remember where I saved my own copy.
2011-06-26 21:00:00

That's why I include my (poor) tutorials as well as my (rather complete) doxygen docs into the download package.
2011-06-27 07:40:00

I wasn't, by any chance, the VLC library, was it?
2011-06-27 14:33:00

Hey hey hey, take a geandr at what' you've done
2011-07-29 01:30:00

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