Archive for December, 2007

Open Letter to Google: API Documentation Indexing

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

To all my blog readers: In case you wonder why I’ve been so silent for months, as a student of electrical engineering I’m holding a tutorial course at university (electromagnetism), and I’m absolving a C++/Qt/OpenCV hands-on training at university that deals with OpenCV-powered pattern recognition and image processing.

The aim is to write an autonomous robot control for a LIDAR+mono-optical+thermo-cam robot that has to absolve various tasks, that require you to think of smart solutions. A very good oppurtunity to improve your practical engineering skills and accomodate to the industry requirements. Not all solutions that are smart are applicable, and vice versa.

Now, my open letter

Dear Google,

it’s great that one can use Google to search through online API documentation. I can enter “gtk_widget_new” and hits on library.gnome.org will show up in the results. This makes Google an effective and omnipresent devhelp-alternative.

However, I have some griefs:

* Often, PageRank thinks the most relevant hits are mailing list posts. This is true only for badly-documented API. One can of course specify site:library.gnome.org, but this is tedious

* Even as you narrow down your results to the official API docs, PageRank fails to get the most relevant/recent documentation, and instead often brings up very outdated documentation (before we had library.gnome.org, often 1.0 platform API docs were preferred!)

What about an”api:…” keyword (like “define:…”) that is associated with an indexer, that is aware of library.gnome.org, docs.trolltech.com, go-mono, meaemo, X11 and MSDN documentation (and also all the POSIX and linux low-level stuff), and knows the various version numbers and flavors of libraries?

You’d do us software developers a major favor, and get even more fanboys! :).

Best regards,

Christian Neumair