Apr
18
2011

Books Online slims down at last on the Denali diet

SQL Server Books Online is flabby and bloated. The structure and style are inconsistent. You can't find what you want. I know. I use BOL too when I'm writing T-SQL or learning an unfamiliar feature.

We're fixing that

We're fixing that, at least in SQL Server "Denali." We're reducing BOL itself - that is, the "product documentation" - to the minimum that you need to use the product successfully. This core documentation will now include just 2 things:

  1. An introduction to each significant feature and its prerequisites.
  2. How To information that lets you use the product successfully, with only the minimum of required conceptual information.

How bad is it?

Take a look at this horrifying example from the Bad Old Days. This is the existing table of contents for SQL Server Full-Text Search. It's a jumble of concepts, how to's, and "grouping" topics that don't even contain any useful content. (Please scroll patiently - this post continues below.)

 

How are we going to make that better?

In the future, we just give you the how-to information that you need to use the feature successfully, along with a feature overview. Here's an example. These are the new topics for Statistical Semantic Search in SQL Server "Denali." Contrast this with what you saw above.

What you get Why it's better

Distinct topic types, and only a few of them

  • overview
  • tasks
  • reference

Related tasks grouped together in comprehensive topics

  • Install and configure
  • Query or use
  • Manage and monitor

 

What's inside?

Here's what one of those consolidated How To topics looks like inside.

What you get Why it's better

Related tasks and required concepts all in one topic.

Tasks first, background information second if you need it.

Concise task descriptions! (And you're right, I still need to add a line of sample code there.)

 

When will we see these improvements in SQL Server Books Online?

In CTP3 for SQL Server "Denali" later this year.

This is a big deal

We're finally going to start writing a lightweight manual of customer tasks and solutions, and stop writing a verbose catalog of Microsoft product features. We hope you'll like it.

-Doug

Comments (2) -

Ryan Huber

Looking forward to a user-friendly BOL!  CTP3 cannot get here soon enough!

Ryan

Sarabpreet Singh

Atlast, it will be easy for learners to follow BOL.
Great Enhancement.

Sarab