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Of course you look at the other players in your industry, right?

You want to know what they are doing and how they do it, right?
Maybe you could learn a thing or two as well.

Sometimes it’s how not to do things.

Sometimes it’s how to do things better.

I recently came across an example for the later.
Oracles online product doumentation has grown and changed a lot over the last 12 years that I have any use for it.
The first non-printed documentation I saw from the guys in Redwood were rather clumsy and had terrible search/index functionality.
Not too surprising, given that this was 1998.

Nowadays you can not only use the very good online documenation website but you can also get notified when they release a revised version.
Yes, that’s right!
Obviously these people in fact are able to revise and correct their product documentation inbetween major release cycles!
Above that they even offer an RSS feed (check the link I marked in the picture) to have you notified in your preferred feed reader.

OracleDokuSite.gif

This leaves me with just one big question: why don’t we at SAP have that?

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14 Comments

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  1. Stefan Koehler
    Hello Lars
    > why don’t we at SAP have that?

    Because the strategy of SAP is to build solutions and not a whole stack or the documentation of SAP is not “business on demand” or is it missing money (and innovation) or maybe you are not using a mobile device 😛

    Sorry i couldn’t resist to write this comment .. hope you can take the joke :-))

    Best Regards
    Stefan

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  2. Nathan Genez
    The icon says it all.  I’d love an RSS feed for SAP documentation or certain SAP Notes.  I have it for my laptop…  Lenovo publishes feeds for every specific laptop model that they sell. SAP has TopNotes and Hot News but it’s not as clean.  The top notes area seems to have a lot of repeats each month and there is no easy way to approve or mark-read each item that comes out.
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    1. Lars Breddemann Post author
      Hi Nathan,

      well for SAP notes the situation is not as bad as it is for the documentation.
      At least the notes are updated and revised once new better knowledge comes up.
      And there are even ways to become aware of this with not too much manual effort.
      (Check my blogs A useful hint on notes and Stay up-to-date! How to keep up with the latest changes in SAP notes. on that).

      But still – this is so Web 1.0!
      I’d really love to see RSS feeds for changed docs and notes.
      And more than that, I’d love to see updated documentation.

      cheers,
      Lars

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      1. Nathan Genez
        Yeah, I’m also not sure why they haven’t published .pdf files of the online documentation since…  has it been since R/3 4.0 or 4.6?  Either way, they were useful for offline viewing and searching.  It’s great that the info is online… remember when you had to get a CD from SAP for that info? 

        SAP has made tremendous improvements to OSS and Note searching in general so it’s time they focus on this topic.  I’d also like to be able to subscribe or follow certain SAP materials whether they are a high priority OSS note that I want to be notified when it is updated, or specific search terms or new topics such as HANA or ERP 6.0 EhP5.

        There is always more to do.

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  3. Kenneth Murray
    I have always been very disappointed with SAP Documentation.  Difficult to find things as they are in multiple places like help.com, notes, sdn, etc..  A lot of the documentation provides no context whatsoever, but they consider it documented as long as there is a bullet mentioning a particular topic.  Just look at the documentation for Function Modules as another example.

    SAPs Documentation is no where near any level of Enterprise Quality.  I hope someday this changes.
    I remember programming in IBM CL Language and not only did the documentation lay out the detail, but they gave context and examples for each item.

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    1. Lars Breddemann Post author
      Point taken.
      Documentation can always be better suited to what one is currently looking for.

      Personally I don’t see that the SAP documentation media is that bad. It’s just not good enough to me. Specifically the publication infrastructure around it.
      The content, yes, might be better. But in difference to most other systems I use and have used most of SAP coding is Open Source.
      You can look at it.
      You can debug it.
      You can actively see what it does.
      Right to the last bit.

      Bringing up the comparison with how things were good back then might not help here.
      “Back then” people got a lot of training before they were allowed to even touch the super expensive IT equipment.
      “Back then” only a few selected (or chosen) people had the chance to use IT and bring it forward.
      “Back then” really is back then and luckily so.

      regards,
      Lars

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    1. Lars Breddemann Post author
      Yeah, heard about it.
      Looked at it.
      Stopped looking at it due to dissapointment.

      Don’t get me wrong – I’d love to have annotable/commentable documentation.
      But still documentation should be something that is done by the people that make the systems.
      One should be able to point out errors and mistakes but the correction should be done by the author of the documentation.
      After all the documentation is a part of the system/software.

      It’s not something debateable like entries in Wikipedia. At least it shouldn’t be.

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  4. Zal Parchem
    Hmmm – does not seem to be the case with SAP’s current approach.  I work in the SAP B1 world and have concrete examples where SAP does not even want to provide direct support for new endeavors which will make SAP money or stop illegal usage of SAP B1.  I agree with Kenneth; finding information is way too difficult here in SAP.  I belong to other technical sites and I go OTHERS to look for answers/info, SAP is always last.  SAP has a lot of data floating everywhere but finding and using that data to turn it into actionable information is way too difficult and consumes too much time.  Regards – Zal
    PS: Here is an example Re: LVS – after server reboot system goes to loop at startup
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    1. Lars Breddemann Post author
      Of course this blog and my replies to the readers comments just reflect MY opinion on this topic which is not necessarily the opinion of SAP.

      Concerning the B1 topic: I really have no clue whatsoever about the B1 world, its ecosystem or its community. To me it looks like there are many differences to the LE (large enterprise) products. As far as I know, source code is not available for B1, which surely is an additional hurdle to understand how the system works.

      So, I’d like to keep the discussion focussed on what the blog was about: simply, yet effective enhancements to the documentation website.

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