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MSDN/TechNet Being Open Sourced as docs.microsoft.com

After 15 years of running on essentially the same codebase, Microsoft has finally decided to retire MSDN and TechNet. The replacement will be an open source project known as docs.microsoft.com . Jeff Sandquist writes ,

In short, content matters. We interviewed and surveyed hundreds of developers and IT Pros and sifted through your website feedback over the years on UserVoice. It was clear we needed to make a change and create a modern web experience for content. The first thing we did was evaluate our existing content infrastructure TechNet and MSDN. Both sites are built on a 10-15 year-old brittle codebase with an archaic publishing and deployment system that was never designed to run on the cloud.

Our focus was not only on the experience, but also on the content we create and how each of you consume it. For years customers have told us to go beyond walls of text with feature-level content and help them implement solutions to their business problems. We knew that the content we delivered and the platform we built must make it easy for customers to learn and deploy solutions.

Beyond basic readability issues such as column widths and font choices, the new website will include timestamps and estimated reading times for each article. The former will help address an ongoing problem on MSDN/Technet, where one reads a long article only to realize at the end that it applies to a long-since deprecated version of a product. The reading time itself isn’t important, but Microsoft will be using it to tune the length of the articles so that they aren’t overwhelmingly long.

All documentation on docs.microsoft.com is open sourced

In the past Microsoft offered a “Community Additions” feature, but the support was haphazard. For example, the comments on the .NET 3.5 page for the ReaderWriterLockSlim Class don’t match the comments on the .NET 4.0 page for the same class. And the comment feature is missing entirely on the “current version” page.

So rather than continue with that mess, every page will have an Edit button through which readers can edit the markdown and directly submit a pull request. In fact, you can even download the actual git repository that stores the documentation.

For more informal changes, they have “partnered with Livefyre to provide comments and Sidenotes on all of our articles.”

Preview Content and Roadmap

The current preview only on covers “Enterprise Mobility Documentation”. Over time more content will be moved over, with redirects from the old MSDN/TechNet pages.

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