PowerShell documentation stubs: frustrating for users

I’ve been writing a piece on PowerShell, Microsoft’s generally excellent scripting and automation platform. PowerShell is also largely open source, in its cross-platform, PowerShell Core guise.

Of course I went straight to the official documentation as part of my research. Looks good; but I was puzzled. I would find a promising topic like Object Pipeline, which says:

In this chapter, we will describe how the Windows PowerShell pipeline differs from the pipelines of most popular shells, and then demonstrate some basic tools that you can use to help control pipeline output and also to see how the pipeline operates.

Then I clicked around to read the chapter, and struggled to find the content.

Eventually I figured out the problem, by going to the GitHub repository for the documentation. This content is not yet written. Microsoft’s JuanPablo Jofre has written stubs, either with the intention of completing them later, or perhaps in the hope that the community will step up and help.

Open Source is great, but the user experience of finding stub documents in official documentation, that is not clearly marked as such, is frustrating.

I do not recall this kind of issue in Microsoft documentation written in the old closed-source world, which makes me wonder if the documentation team is under resourced – though the most important part of the documentation, the cmdlet reference, is pretty good in my experience.

My view of PowerShell is that it is now a critically important part of the Microsoft platform. It is not only a tool for managing Windows Server, but also for Microsoft’s online services such as Office 365, Azure Active Directory and other Azure services.

It is worth getting the documentation right.

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  2. Mysteries of trapping errors in PowerShell
  3. Fresh Paint Windows Store app: in equal parts great and frustrating
  4. What next for application help and documentation? First thoughts on Adobe’s Technical Communication Suite 3
  5. Notes from the field: Office 365 Cutover Migration for a small business and the mysteries of mail-enabled users

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