My wishes for Sun's online documentation

January 27, 2009

I have some wishes for docs.sun.com, Sun's theoretically helpful collection of online documentation.

Sun has a lot of documentation about how to do things with Solaris. Well, how to do things with specific versions of Solaris, for example one for each specific release of Solaris 10. This level of archived documentation for each specific release is commendable, but it leads directly to my first wish:

I wish that Sun had permanent URLs that were always the current versions of any particular document; I would be happy if this was merely 'for Solaris 10', so you had a URL for the current 'Solaris 10 system administration guide' and the like. This URL should be a real document, not merely a redirection, because my goal is to get people to stop bookmarking and linking to release-specific documentation. All of the top level indexes and pages should point first to these current documentation URLs, of course.

(Older versions should be accessible, but through different URLs and ideally with URLS and labels that make it very clear that they are not the documentation for the current Solaris release. Bonus points are awarded for cross linking versions, so that if you actually want the version of a particular document for Solaris 10 update 4, it's easy to jump from the current version to that version.)

Once this is done, my next wish is that Sun's docs.sun.com search engine would automatically exclude release-specific documentation in favour of the current documentation any time that the current documentation matches all of the search terms. If this is too radical, it should show the older versions in the same way that Google shows closely related search results and give primacy to the current version.

(Of course, if you are searching within the documentation for a specific release, the search engine should still restrict the search results appropriately.)

These wishes are brought to you by someone who is tired of old and now obsolete versions of Solaris documentation turning up in various sorts of searches. Especially when he settles in to read some of them for a while before noticing that they are in fact obsolete.

(While I'm wishing for the impossible, I'd like docs.sun.com to have a site design and URL scheme that is vaguely modern (in a good way; their current URL scheme is arguably modern in a bad way).)

Written on 27 January 2009.
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Last modified: Tue Jan 27 23:52:38 2009
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