Macromedia LiveDocs and how they can help you

I must admit a lot of the customers I work with in support do not utilize the full potential of Macromedia LiveDocs. Once they realize you can view comments that have been submitted by other developers that hit the same road block they did…they never go back to using the documentation in the app itself unless it’s for general knowledge.

The LiveDocs are super powerful in my opinion by allowing tech writers the ability to make changes on the fly if necessary and allowing anyone to submit a helpful tip or workaround to an issue that cannot be resolved easily.

The Dreamweaver and Flash community eats the LiveDocs up like its icing on a cake and now Fireworks 8 will have the ability to use LiveDocs which is fantastic and something I’ve been waiting to have for quite some time. 😉

Although, Im not seeing the Contribute/Flashpaper community as active as I thought it would be and hopefully that will change since Contribute issues can get pretty hairy and complex depending on the customer’s environment. I’m expecting to see this change with Contribute included in Studio 8 now. Woohoo!

Also, for us commandos in support, this is a useful way to get a workaround or update out ASAP without dealing with all the normal channels we have to go through to get something published. Ya!

Benefits you have with LiveDocs:

  • Fresh and updated Documentation
  • Add comments to help others that might hit the same scenario
  • Read comments so you don’t spend hours figuring something out that someone else already did for you.

LiveDocs have been around for quite some time now and have helped me out a ton.

Here’s an example of how it helps others:

Using the ProgressBar component
http://livedocs.macromedia.com/flash/mx2004/main_7_2/00002688.html

Do you find the LiveDocs helpful? What would you change about them to make them even easier to use? Not that anything would change, but Im just curious if anyone has a better way of doing it. I love LiveDocs! Would I marry them?? Maybe. 😛

7 Responses to Macromedia LiveDocs and how they can help you

  1. Kevin Hoyt says:

    Good post Alan,
    I too love LiveDocs. I’ll get caught up on a problem, read the docs local and live, and then hit the comments left by others. Sometimes the comments are along the lines of “should’a read the docs over here first” but most of the time they are super-valuable!
    For example, I was recently trying to figure out if there was a way for the XML API in Breeze 5 to set a custom URL. Nothing in the docs, then boom – Nick Calenda made a post that revealed all the XML API goodness.
    One of the other things I love about the LiveDocs is the URL to the specific content. This is great for distribution, cross-posting, etc. Here’s Nick’s post on the XML API for example:
    http://livedocs.macromedia.com/breeze/5b/integration/04_act90.htm
    The only thing that would improve the material for me would be if the technical writers integrated the comments into the actual content as it was posted. I sometimes forget to look at the posts, and then it’s only hours later that I find somebody’s comments.

  2. MOLOKO says:

    The main reason I don’t use it is that, like much of the macromedia website, it is painfully slow to load. I clicked the Progress Bar component link above and it was a full 45 seconds before the content actually displayed. Even the main Macromedia support pages are faster than that. As a comparison, macromedia.com/support/flash/ loads in around 30 seconds, http://www.adobe.com loads in 16 seconds, yahoo.com loads in 2 seconds.
    This is with no proxy cacheing server or anything like that, so more commonly visited pages will not necessarily load faster.
    The breeze link posted by Kevin took 40 secs to load, and that was after having already visited livedocs.macromedia.com so should (in theory) load slightly faster as there’s no DNS lookup involved second time around.
    I don’t know whether you chaps in the states get the same problem, perhaps it’s because I’m in the UK, but I’ve visited macromedia.com from many different locations over this side of the pond, through many different ISPs and it is always one of the slowest websites around.

  3. Kevin-
    Thanks for bringing up key points that I missed. I completely agree with ya there. I also forgot to mention viewing the Comment Report app. Pretty nifty to see all the responses from that poster.
    Moloko-
    Love the band btw…wow, I didnt realize its slower for you guys in UK. There’s a lot going on in the background to retrieve all that data, but you bring up a good point.
    Thanks for your input!!

  4. Ian Chia says:

    I find the Livedocs very useful, but a major improvement would be to migrate comments from older products livedocs to the new version.
    For example, there’s a bunch of livedoc comments pointing out bugs and workarounds on CFMX6 and CFMX6.1 that fully apply to CFMX7. But if you go to the CFMX7 Livedocs, you would be unaware of these.
    I think it’s an unrealistic expectation for developers to visit the Livedocs and backtrack through product version in order to see applicable comments. I understand the QA resources required to migrate Livedoc comments to a new product version would be onerous, but even a section that said somelike like “Comments from older versions of LiveDocs. May not be applicable to CFMX7 …” and the inclusion of the older comments would be *VERY* useful.

  5. Andreas Weber says:

    > it is painfully slow to load
    Not much more to add – this is a _massive_ usability issue and prevents many people from contributing and using the docs.
    This has already been pointed out many times –
    when will Macromedia finally fix it?

  6. Z3BB says:

    Heay Alan,
    First i want to say that the MM LiceDocs are great! In my opinion they should seperate core internal classes from the extra classes you install via extension manager. This is offcourse only for your own Livedocs on your pc.
    For both the internal and www version you should have a track back function in the tree or in the menu for the latest posts on latest comments. It’s allready working for seperate items (the rss function).
    Other great suggestion would be to linked back to examples on the MM website from inside the item explanation.

  7. dan mode says:

    LiveDocs – helpful? Yes. As long as users don’t post huge long samples of their code that isn’t working.
    I would also be nice to get a notfication if something has been changed within the livedocs by MM.
    Thanks.