The top 4 reasons I love docs.com
Your first question might be “what is docs.com?” and that’s fair. You may have heard of docs.microsoft.com, which is what it redirects to (or maybe you already figured that out by typing it in your own browser…).
Over the course of the last year (?) Microsoft has made a very notable push to consolidate their public-facing documentation all to the docs.microsoft.com site–and I love it! These are the top reasons I’m a big fan.
Consistency in documentation
Part of good reference documentation is that it isn’t radically different from one product to the next–especially in the case of the Microsoft clouds of Azure, Business Applications, and Office 365 where the products are engineered to work with each other. Having consistency across these helps connect that experience. A few places this is evident includes:
- Navigation / outline
- Style guide
- Easily searchable text
- Better cross-linking
- Visual ascetic of the page
- Separation of product feedback and documentation feedback
- Release notes aren’t buried elsewhere
It seems to me like there’s been a significant effort to make this site SEO-friendly (SEO-focused?). I get high-ranking hits of this documentation using the major search providers–which is great considering how fresh much of the content is.
Within the site, the outline (navigation) for each item includes search (if you’re trying to find something within this logical area, with the top-level search just a click away.
This same documentation used to be scattered around a bunch of product specific pages, TechNet articles, MSDN, product manuals, separate roadmap sites, “official” community sites (and probably more).
Now it doesn’t take heroic efforts to track this stuff down. Resources for end users, admins, IT pros, and developers are all here–which is especially great since so many people who would go looking for this don’t fall neatly into just one of those buckets. A huge amount of content is out there already, with some still pointing to old articles (that are being ported and retired).
Every page has the date stamp right at the top of the page, giving a quick heads up as to how fresh the content is or when it may have last been reviewed. In this same area it calls out the people who have contributed to writing the page as well, which for some reason just feels good to remember there are real human beings behind the updates 🙂
I also find it interesting that all of the documentation is written in Markdown and maintained on GitHub repositories. It’s very open to be able to see edit history, publishing over time, and all sorts of other stuff out there.