Microsoft: Please use and retain static documentation URLs!

by Jon Davis 2. December 2008 20:03

Microsoft needs to learn how to use their handy dandy URL routing know-how and, for Pete's sake, KEEP TECHNICAL DOCUMENTATION ONLINE at a static URL where it will never move. Said URL should be organized logically where it it will never be meaningless, rather than a codified flavor-of-the-day database/CMS URL.

Bad: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/ms123402.aspx

Good: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/netframework/2.0/breakingchanges/  (redirects to or proxies the "Bad" URL)

I spent several minutes trying to track down the .NET 2.0 Breaking Changes documentation. Microsoft's 404 page didn't even bother to give me any best-guess assistance, it just said, "We're sorry, but the page you requested could not be found. Please check your typing and try again, or use the search options on this page." Sorry? You're sorry?! This was a very important document and only three or four years have passed, and you're "sorry"? You're not sorry. You're lazy. If this didn't happen so regularly I wouldn't mind so much but it seems like anything older than a couple years gets treated this way.

It is not enough if documentation stays online, guys; the URL matters equally, because it's the URL that blogs, forums, and articles reference in everyday online business. You need to name your URLs more carefully than you name the titles of your documents, and keep them forever. 50 years from now I expect the same data to be at the same URL, period.

By the way, the corrected URL for .NET Framework 2.0's Breaking Changes list is: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/netframework/aa570326.aspx. We'll just see how long this one lasts. *sigh*  I'd be tempted to spider it but there's an MSDN Library CD/DVD lying around here somewhere...

 

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About the author

Jon Davis (aka "stimpy77") has been a programmer, developer, and consultant for web and Windows software solutions professionally since 1997, with experience ranging from OS and hardware support to DHTML programming to IIS/ASP web apps to Java network programming to Visual Basic applications to C# desktop apps.
 
Software in all forms is also his sole hobby, whether playing PC games or tinkering with programming them. "I was playing Defender on the Commodore 64," he reminisces, "when I decided at the age of 12 or so that I want to be a computer programmer when I grow up."

Jon was previously employed as a senior .NET developer at a very well-known Internet services company whom you're more likely than not to have directly done business with. However, this blog and all of jondavis.net have no affiliation with, and are not representative of, his former employer in any way.

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