January 12, 2012

FuseSource has Documentation

I find it frustrating that so few people, people who use our products, realize the amount of documentation FuseSource offers on their products. I was talking to some users the other day who were shocked to discover that FuseSource offerers Javadoc for Fuse ESB.
It rapidly becomes clear that people who complain about our documentation are usually complaining about the documentation they find at the Apache projects that make up the core of our offerings. I understand their frustration with the information on the Apache sites. It is often outdated, confusing, and hard to search. It is written by ninjas for other ninjas.
The FuseSource Documentation team writes professional, versioned content targeted at more typical corporate IT professionals. We strive to make the content task oriented and relevant. We use better sample code, vet the content for accuracy, and organize it so that it can be searched effectively.
Our documentation can be found at:
Fuse ESB
Fuse Message Broker
Fuse Mediation Router
Fuse Services Framework
It is available for free and, hopefully, is useful. We love to get feedback, so if you find issues or have ideas about how we can improve the content, leave feedback in the comment forms on the bottom of the pages. One of the writers will get back to you pretty quick.

January 5, 2012

The Value of Documentation

I have to give a presentation about how documentation adds value to a product offering. The fact that documentation adds value seems like a no brainier until you have to explain what that values looks like. My initial thought was to simply say that documentation educates the customers and makes it possible for customer to use the product. However, that answer doesn't fill a half-hour presentation or do justice to all the ways that good documentation helps a product and the company as a whole. The places documentation adds value are throughout the product life cycle:
  • it helps marketing by increasing the number of Web search hits the product shows up in
  • it helps sales by providing education and evaluation materials that prospects can access
  • it helps sales by making it possible for a customer to do there own POCs
  • it helps customer service because he customers will call with fewer issues and many of the issues can be resolved with a link to the documentation
  • it helps development by finding rough spots in user interfaces
  • it helps development find bugs because the doc team is a pseudo QA team
  • it helps bring new hires up to speed quickly
Basically, a good documentation team does more than just create a bunch of words that nobody reads. It makes the customer's experience smoother and thereby makes all of the other functions around the product easier to accomplish. Good documentation adds value by freeing up other parts of the organization to do harder things.