developer site halls of shame and fame?

We love MDC, but it can always be better. What are some of your favourite developer sites, and what about them do you especially like? Ditto for your least favourite elements, so we know what to avoid in the future?

You might have comments on the style of writing, navigation, page layout, workflow as an editor, etc. Share them here in the comments, please and thank you!

one comment to “developer site halls of shame and fame?”

  1. entered 1 October 2007 @ 3:51 pm

    Back in the day, php.net’s API search feature proved invaluable to learning the language.

  2. entered 1 October 2007 @ 3:56 pm

    Prototype – before & after. First they had zero documentation, then a fabulous straightforward API site.

    MySQL documentation still stinks IMO. It’s a dense jungle of irrelevant or wrongly located information. You have to rely on the user comments to actually get things working as it should.

  3. entered 1 October 2007 @ 4:15 pm

    While I’m not a developer, I spend a lot of time in MDC and other areas trying to figure out what new features and functionality I can tweak or play with. What I appreciate is: a brief yet conversational style (never use a more complicated word when a simpler would do), cross-referencing throughout, sample code and/or examples, a mechanism for getting updated when documentation I’m interested in is updated or changed.

    I’m not really into building a huge profile on developer sites with favourites and interests and such, but I can see how that might be useful for optimizing search.

    I think it’s also important to have a clear taxonomy between reference documentation (like API documentation that describes what arguments do, etc) code samples, articles (which would be more like discussions of motivation for a feature and where it’s taking the technology) and tutorials (which might string together a bunch of code samples). Basically I think you want an information architect :)

  4. entered 1 October 2007 @ 6:12 pm

    Apple’s documentation is pretty good (although it can be oh-so-frustratingly sparse at times). I really like that a snapshot of it lives on my HD — it enables folks to write nice UIS that parse the HTML (AppKiDo and CocoaBrowser, for example). It also means I can Spotlight search, since it’s just an HTML page.

    If you aren’t an ADC member, I recommend signing up and browsing around (it’s free), or checking out the copy that’s in /Developer. Xcode includes a documentation browser as well.

  5. entered 1 October 2007 @ 8:11 pm

    I know it’s not a developer site, but one useful things about Wikipedia is that I can add a keyword search that’ll take me straight to an article rather than a search page. “wp Firefox” takes me to the Firefox article. “devmo encodeURIComponent” should take make directly to the encodeURIComponent page.

  6. entered 1 October 2007 @ 9:22 pm

    There may be better, but I think php.net hit gold with their great use of search, and user comments in addition to clean docs with examples that are well written.

    It’s a combo that’s pretty tough to beat. Good enough for a beginner, but still good for a long time dev who needs to look something up.

    I think jQuery did a decent job as well.

  7. RichB
    entered 2 October 2007 @ 1:08 am

    MDC, QuirksMode.org and HowToCreate. They’re the only ones I regularly check. Even for IE-only development, MDC is better than most other sites. So much so that a lot of my Google queries contain the string ‘MDC’.

  8. entered 2 October 2007 @ 4:31 am

    I frequently use the reference section of zvon.org when I want to look up DOM methods and attributes (as well as various other things) – despite it being a hideously ugly and frame-based site.

    zvon.org shares something in common with the function references at php.net – an index of links on the left of the screen, with the detail on the right. It’s easy to look up and down the list for the item you’re looking for (or just the one that sounds about right, or jogs your memory a bit), and a single click loads the details.

    Compare this with the DOM references on MDC at the moment. They’re very good, but if you find yourself looking at the wrong thing you need to navigate back up the breadcrumbs, find another candidate, then navigate back down the tree again. Those extra clicks and page loads make it slower to use as a quick reference – especially when you’re not really sure what you’re looking for.

  9. ant
    entered 3 October 2007 @ 4:40 pm

    PHP’s site is pretty good, but on the other hand 99% of the time I’m using it is because their string function definitions are about as predictable as md5sums.

    MDC seems to be the opposite – I get lost looking for simple JS stuff more often than not.

  10. entered 3 October 2007 @ 8:41 pm

    I’ll second Robert’s recommendation of php.net, in particular its implementation of user comments, which are really useful (both for readers looking for help understanding/using the documentation and documentors looking for help finding errors and determining future directions).