Measuring API Documentation on the Web
As far as software documentation is concerned, it is going through a big transformation. Q&A websites, developer forums, and tech blogs have been instrumental in the inevitable transformation. It is not a good idea to rely too much on a central authority as far as documentation is considered. All thanks to the great tools available at the disposal of developers, they have been able to bring the changes which were long due. The good thing about the developer blogs is that users can access them without any difficulty. Developers create documentation via social media, but there are skeptics who question this move.
By doing so, developers are challenging the traditional documentation methods. Studies have revealed software developer blogs have been doing the documentation in a more effective manner. In our assessment, we have seen that these blogs cover about 88% of the API methods. They write about their experiences of using those API methods on their blogs. And they share tutorials as well so that users will find it easy. We have noticed that large group of developers became part of this process. And they managed to do it with only few blog posts.
One thing we can say confidently is that social media is no longer a niche element in software documentation. Things are slowly changing and social media has been instrumental in this. Most importantly, the coverage of social media is really huge. As a result, users get a chance to interact with the authors as well. And they can express their feedback and views without much difficulty.
A venue to share knowledge
When developers have doubts about APIs they turn to web search for help. And they manage to get the help they need instantly. These days, software developers have the luxury to use social media websites lie refactormycode, StackOverflow, codesnipr etc. These social media websites have been tremendously helpful – if you ask the developers, they will vouch for it. On top of it, they can access highly useful blogs out there whenever they have confusion regarding APIs.
Those who run such successful blogs confirm that they get a lot of traffic from Google and other search engines. And it is very clear that developers have been consuming the content of these blogs and social media websites in an elaborate manner. In fact, developers no longer rely on official API websites to clear their doubts. They can go to Google and search for the information they are seeking. They get everything including code snippets to get the work done.
A research paper on the subject
A research paper on this subject was submitted recently. It presented a comprehensive study on this topic. The findings of this paper are going to very useful for those who have been looking forward to it. More than the official API websites, developers seem to prefer these blogs and social media sites during a crisis.
Most importantly, a Google search lands you in the information you have been looking for in a faster manner. It is really convenient. Maybe that is why developers prefer social media sites and blogs to the official API websites.
Software documentation has been slowly distancing itself from the traditional methods of late. We have seen that developers tend to visit the blogs and social media sites whenever they have doubts regarding APIs. And this trend is here to stay. A simple Google search makes it easy for you to find the exact information you have been looking for.