Tuesday, May 13, 2008

New Telerik Help System Live

There is nothing worse when trying to solve a problem with 3rd party tools than to be presented with a difficult to use documentation system. You're already frustrated, so you need docs that are easy to navigate so you can find your answer quickly and get back to being productive. And, if we're being frank, Telerik's online documentation system hasn't been as good as it needs to be to meet those simple requirements. The docs have been loading in an ancient frame-based layout and the tree navigation took forever to load (clearly, it wasn't using RadTreeview). I'm happy to report that's all history as we've just rolled-out a brand new online documentation system!

The new tool has been in development for a while now and was one of the major tasks completed during our Q1 2008 efforts. We would have rolled it out with the release, but it needed a few extra days to be perfect and everyone was heads-down making sure your release questions were handled promptly. Now that the Q1 release is out the door, the new online documentation system is up.

Unlike previous iterations, this system has been built largely in-house using Telerik's RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX, and it features a number of improvements over the old version. Among my favorite improvements are:

  • SEO friendly (and easy to copy-and-paste) URLs. No more frames "hiding" the URLs!
  • Clean, easy-to-read, modern design. I love Telerik green, but the old system was just hard on the eyes.
  • RadTreeview topic navigation. We finally get all of the RadTreeview "goodness" for navigating the docs, like load-on-demand nodes, automatic node locating, and clear selected node styling.
  • Google-based search. Our Google Mini search appliance is powering the online doc search, so you should be able to find what you need, when you need it.
So whether you use the online docs a lot or every now and then, you should find the new experience to be much more enjoyable. You'll be able to quickly find your answer among the thousands of pages of documentation and impress your co-workers that much more quickly with the "magic" you can perform with your RadControls. Check out a post from Nikolay Dobrev for another perspective on the new system and then give the docs a try for yourself!