Stackdoc

Alasdair North - 

About a month ago Jeff Atwood tweeted a link to an interesting post about crowd sourced documentation. I really liked the idea of generating documentation from data available on Stack Overflow, and of augmenting existing documentation with this information.

With this in mind I started writing a Chrome extension to insert lists of Stack Overflow questions into existing documentation. Now StackDoc is at a point where I’m ready to release it into the world.

It’s quite simple and limited at the moment, but the plan is to expand its features over time and in response to people’s feedback. Right now it’ll only add information to Microsoft’s .NET documentation on MSDN.

I’ve kept it quite subtle and unobtrusive for now, but still instantly visible when you open the page. Clicking on it expands the full list of questions.

The crawler that gathers the data is also quite simplistic at the moment. It only looks for links to MSDN, rather than using any of the more sophisticated techniques discussed in the blog post.

I’d like to expand it so that it can add lists to other types of documentation, perhaps Mozilla’s JavaScript docs, node.js and many more. The main problem is gathering the underlying data of which questions might be relevant to a particular bit of documentation. In order to get useful links for some languages it may be necessary to crowd source this process as well.

That’s a discussion for the future perhaps. For now give the extension a go and let me know what you think.

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I'm the CTO of viaLibri, a director and web developer at Runway, and an active member of St. Barnabas Church.

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