Browsing Java documentation on Sun's Java site is incredibly frustrating because the site doesn't seem to support a basic operation I want: search.

Consider this example. I performed a Google search for java.util.Map.Entry and eneded up on this page. It has a lot of useful information on it. But now that I'm there, I was to search for something. I guess I have to go back to Google and start over. There's no search box on the page. WTF?!

Contrast this with any reference page on, like this one (chosen at random). It's far more search friendly. There's a box right at the top of the page and a drop down box that helps me crontrol what I'm searching. docs: good.
Sun Java Docs: less good.

Oh, it's not just PHP. The MySQL folks get it too. Here's a randomly selected example from their docs. Notice the search box.

Posted by jzawodn at January 13, 2003 05:34 PM

Reader Comments
# Marco said:

Good point. However, the Sun documentation is excellent in my opinon... maybe the PHP team could get a few tips from it, too. It'd be great to have the same level of detail and organization everywhere!

on January 13, 2003 07:24 PM
# john said: has done a lot of cool stuff. I really like the smart redirection. Go to for example - you'll go to the same document page you referred to.

on January 13, 2003 07:37 PM
# danny molek said:

I dont think the problem is its inability to support "search", but rather, the fact that you a nihilist ignoramus.

on January 13, 2003 08:14 PM
# Stewart Vardaman said:

Danny, please. The PHP documentation is well-regarded by a number of people as being best-of-breed.

on January 14, 2003 01:00 AM
# Dan Isaacs said:

And it's "nihilistic ignoramus".

on January 14, 2003 03:49 AM
# Scott Johnson said:

I think all of you are missing the best feature of php docs -- that users can add comments shown INLINE with the content (which makes the whole search mechanism work better).

No the PHP docs aren't perfect but they really are best of breed.

on January 14, 2003 07:49 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Scott's right. The comments are often invaluable.

on January 14, 2003 08:19 AM
# Sterling Hughes said:

The PHP and MySQL docs have the same mastermind behind them, Jim Winstead, who is now the MySQL webmaster.

on January 14, 2003 12:19 PM
# Damon said:

I just wanted to point out that Sun does have searchable Java documentation. It's called DocFather, of all things.

Also check out dbDoc, a replacement for javadoc that you can run locally in a database such as mySQL.

on January 14, 2003 05:41 PM
# danny molek said:

no Dan Eye-sacks, Jeremy is a nihilist ignoramus.
And you are a nihilist ignoramuse.

on January 14, 2003 11:48 PM
# danny molek said:

Steve Vardaman, by Best-of-Breed, do they mean "Inbred till its blind and bowlegged?"

Steve, you are a smelly idiot. Go eat a weiner dog's diarrhea.

on January 14, 2003 11:54 PM
# Tony Williams said:

I agreee with Jeremy, john and Scott. is such good online documentation that once I had my cable connected I forgot about installing any PHP doco on my box and rarely open a PHP book.

I think it takes all three pieces (searchability, redirection and user comments) to make it so good. I would add having the function name in the window title. To expand on John, the smart redirection means I can type '' into the browsers location box and a return will get me the right page. NEAT! The title means that I can easily bookmark pages I'm going to be using a lot when moving into a PHP area not well known to me. Oh, and let's add well-written and well cross-referenced to that list. Any flaws in the writing are generally picked up and covered by the user comments.

All put together it makes for excellent documentation. EVERYONE could learn from it (Can I add Apple to the list? Their doco and search system for developers sucks pretty bad.)

on January 15, 2003 03:02 PM
# John Munsch said:

Can somebody explain to me why Sun has doggedly refeused to eat their own dog food (pun intended) by using their own JavaHelp system? It doesn't knock me over with how impressive it is, but at least it has searching so it should be better than a plain old set of interconnected HTML pages.

I'm mystified why, even if they didn't like the JavaHelp system, they don't try to improve JH until it's something they _do_ want to use.

on January 17, 2003 12:15 PM
# ip address said:

hey man, just want to say hi

on May 4, 2003 01:50 AM
# dave said:

I think all of you are missing the best feature of php docs -- that users can add comments shown INLINE with the content (which makes the whole search mechanism work better).

No the PHP docs aren't perfect but they really are best of breed.

on July 20, 2004 06:23 AM
# Preteen said:


on October 4, 2004 11:25 PM
# Walter Maner said:

Here, from Columbia University, is a quick way
to look up keywords. Also, thanks to Franck Allimant, you can get the
J2SE 6 documentation as a Windows help file (54 MB download).

on January 28, 2008 11:46 AM
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