Show Me! Getting sample code from the docs...

10 December 2008

As part of our continuing efforts to improve our help documentation and to link it to online information — especially CodeCentral, where we can make changes very easily with low impact — we've been adding Show Me panels. Since you might not have noticed these unless you religiously read our help files with every new release (you mean you don't? Smile), I thought I'd quickly talk about them and what they are.

image A Show Me panel is a box in a "How-To" help topic that links to the same example in CodeCentral. Pretty simple concept, but you immediately get the benefits of CodeCentral — easy download, automatic conversion to your installed products, simple compile.

In DXperience v2008 vol 2, there were a few Show Me panels in our help, with the emphasis being on "few". Just enough to show that the design and implementation were viable, in fact. Now, in v2008 vol 3, the Show Me box appears in many more places in our documentation, especially in the XtraCharts and XtraReports help files — the designer of this feature is the tech writer for those teams. We are planning to add more examples to CodeCentral and link to them from the corresponding help topics in other product areas.

Some benefits:

  1. This feature quickly allows you to recreate the example being discussed in the help topic. Sometimes this is not so easy because some trivial steps may have been omitted in the documentation.
  2. It gives us a better chance to keep our documentation up to date and see what needs to be changed, since our CodeCentral samples are constantly being tested against any new DXperience version. This, unfortunately, doesn't happen half as well with the help files.
  3. Show Me links allow users to get a sample converted and compiled for their current version of DXperience.

Here's a few examples from the online version of our documentation (you'll see the same thing in the installed help as well):

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