Sunday, June 29, 2008

MSDN Wiki - 1100 edits later

I've been contributing to the MSDN Wiki for a bit over a year. After an edit tonight, I see I've hit 1100 updates thus far, far in advance of the number 2 contributor!

The purpose of the Wiki is to enable the community to add content. This can be in the form of code samples, deeper explanations, or external references. I do see a bit of graffiti from time to time but thankfully the admins on the site are pretty quick to remove any vandalism (or 'non-content' as I call it).

My adventure with the Wiki started one Sunday afternoon a bit over a year ago. I was looking at a C# code sample on the MSDN site and was trying to convert it into PowerShell. Since PowerShell was built on .NET, it was supposed to be easy to just dig in and use the framework. But I just didn't get it - I was missing something. If I recall, I was trying to play around with the XML functions in PowerShell and just could not work out what was going on!

I posted a query in the most excellent PowerShell MS newsgroup and in under an hour, Keith Hill posted a reply that knocked the fog from my eyes and suddenly I was able to access a .NET Class. So I posted the sample, then a few more. It was a fun day. Then I posted some more and then more - my aim was to put the "PowerShell" tag at number 1 in the tag cloud.

Since then, I've posted just short of 300 samples showing how you can use PowerShell to access various parts of the .NET framework. Whilst working on the Microsoft PowerShell course, I delved into COM and WMI too!

I've also been updating my (and a few other) posts with better tagging. I've not been successful, yet, in the goal of getting PowerShell to be the number 1 tag: 695 posts are tagged as 'contentbug' with only 276 tagged as PowerShell so far.I probably need to check some of my posts to ensure they're tagged correctly.

I've found this most rewarding - I know a lot more about how to use PowerShell to access the core system functions, as well as knowing more about how those functions work. As a trainer, this have been invaluable in prepping up to teach PowerShell. It's also a wonderful reference for others to build on, as I've started to see.

A great challenge to trainers wanting to learn to teach PowerShell well - add a few samples yourself. Work with the examples from the course. Then find an undocumented class/method/member, etc. and develop some new samples. Carry on for a bit and who knows, your name may be in the top contributors list.


Chad said...

I have been trying to find any useful documentation for .NET 3.5 classes and methods for a month now to no avail. I ran across a reference to the MSDN Wiki today and was encouraged. Then I discovered MSDN has decided to kill it. I wrote them saying an imperfect something was vastly superior to perfectly nothing (which is how I view MSDN's "documentaion"). I think it's a travesty that your devotion to helping the community is just getting scrapped

Thomas said...

Thanks for your comment Chad. But to my knowledge, the Wiki aspect (aka Community content) still exists and there is no plans to get rid of it.

Documentation of .NET is at You can find the MSDN Library at: And as of this morning at least, this content is still there and I can add to it.

As an aside, I've now done over 6000 edits and have added several hundred PowerShell script examples. This devoted content has not been scrapped (at least yet!).

jv said...

Check the following:


The following does not produce expected results:

Most other links to MSDN Wiki info end up in odd places in odd countries.

It's interesting that the msdnwiki link can end up in a different language each time it is clicked.

It may be more correct to say that the service is a wiki-like addition to MSDN.

jv said...

Here is a good exampe of wher eteh "wiki-like" content is most visible.

MSDN Wiki-like page

The right side of the page shows the tag summary and interesting statistics about taggers.
Much of MSDN has no community content and many pages have not been updated to teh newer system.

As always finding things on MSDN is a challenge but it does seem to be slowly improving.

The latest failures seem to come from switching to Bing for searches. Bing does a poor job at organizing information for MSDN.

MSDN requires a certtain amount of practice to master so be patient.

Visual Studio online help suffers from most of the same ambiguity.

Chad said...

exactly JV. Where is it? All I get is a Spanish version of MSDN at that link.

And Thomas, of course I am aware of the .NET link you provided, but I defy you to find much of anything useful there as per practical application. It's just basically a list of classes and methods without any real documentation.