Community-driven documentation

One of the biggest strengths of open source languages is that the documentation is richly peppered with user-contributed comments, tips, and code snippets. The Java community is quite open sourcy in its own right, but the platform is, ultimately, controlled by one entity–and the documentation along with it.

Thankfully, lessons have been learned from awesome user-supplemented resources like the PHP Manual and Java has begun to spawn its own offerings in this area.

Lucas Chan, one of the developers here at SitePoint, has found KickJava useful. It’s a complete index of methods, classes, and packages in the standard Java platform libraries (J2SE, J2EE, J2ME, Java TV, Java Phone, and Java Card), containing user-contributed notes, tips and–more commonly–code snippets. If you’re an experienced developer that just needs to see a class in action to grasp how it works, this might be the ideal reference for you.

More recently, Javalobby (who also revamped their main site last week) have launched JDocs.com. A compilation of docs for 132 APIs as of this writing, the library allows users to submit comments for any class contained therein, and the whole thing is fully searchable. If you log in, you can even set up personalized lists of your favourite classes, packages, and APIs so the info you need is always a click away.

When JDocs.com was first launched there was a lot of static surrounding the fact that Sun didn’t want them to include the core Java libraries in the site. Sun was concerned that user-contributed comments interspersed with the official documentation could be confusing to developers and damaging to the integrity of the platform.

Thankfully, the brains at Javalobby were able to get Sun onboard by putting comments on these packages into a separate frame below the official documentation. And all is right with the world.

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  • http://www.cc.jyu.fi/~jhpalsam/ itsyM

    Very nice resources. Learning by example is very efficient (at least for me it is) and can save a lot of time if you have a tight deadline.

  • http://boyohazard.net Octal

    Thankyou for the links. Good documentation (read: php manual style) is indeed an area that Java has lacked for far too long

  • http://www.practicalapplications.net bwarrene

    Your coverage is really appreciated in this area as Java and Python are fast becoming my preferred environments (not just because I am on OS X!). I consider myself students to both languages and your tips and techniques are invaluable for someone migrating from architecture and system administration to programming later than most folk. ;>)

  • http://www.dvd-software.info hurricane_sh

    For Java resource, normally I will search the Java FAQ (http://www.jguru.com/faq/index.jsp) first – a very comprehensive resource, if not lucky enough, then search the official forums: http://forum.java.sun.com.

    I think Java has better (not more) resource than PHP, yes, PHP has a LOT, but when I search on Google, It’s really difficult to know which one is better, I often used some buggy code and later had to fix something, that’s because everyone write PHP guides. I never had this kind of problems with Java.