The marketing value of developer docs

Last week at the Plone Symposium East I gave a talk on the KARL project that I’ve been working on.  The basic meme: Plone and its large ecosystem provide a ton of value when your needs match up with its bulls-eye.  What should one do when your needs don’t fit so well into Plone-the-product’s box?

My talking point was, we need to discourage expanding Plone’s bulls-eye to cover generic platform development of any possible application.  Instead, encourage the meme that the technologies (and effort expended learning them) can be used to make a targeted product.

The KARL project adopted that thinking in its switch to BFG (to good effect, as we then focused on building the best KARL we could.)  In describing BFG’s goals, I lifted one directly from Chris:

Documentation: The lack of formal documentation of a feature or API is a bug.

I then went on to explain that Chris released the documentation for BFG before releasing the software, and has made an enormous, constant effort at keeping the wide-ranging docs (API, narrative, example applications) up-to-date as he has refactored.

In making the point, I posited that “Friendly, ample docs make a positive first impression” is part of the reason for swift uptake of Django and other Python web frameworks.  Chris pointed me to a survey that makes that point in spades.

Further confirmation came during the BFG tutorial Tres and I did last week.  Eric Rose clicked the link to the BFG docs in the comprehensive BFG Wiki tutorial and had a very visible positive reaction on his face.

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One Response to “The marketing value of developer docs”

  1. Florian Schulze Says:

    I have to admit, that I instantly liked BFG because of it’s great and correct documentation. I was up and running very fast.

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