As a developer, you’re always looking for answers to technical questions. Knowing where to look is important. There’s Stack Overflow, there’s W-3 Schools (which I like for its simplified solutions), and there are countless other resources to find solutions to tech issues. How often do you go to the docs? If you’re likely to spend some time with a particular technical tool, consider getting familiar with that tool’s documentation. It can save you time and boost your confidence.
The docs can be daunting, especially at first, but some time and energy spent poking around in them can pay big dividends. the benefits are cumulative. As you become more familiar with the docs, your knowledge and confidence grow.
They’re Best Used as a Reference
You don’t need to read the documentation from front-to-back. It’s way too detailed and dry for that. Just start by getting familiar with it. Scan the table of contents to understand the logical breakdown of the topics. This is a good overview. It will give you will give you a mental representation of the knowledge base, which is very valuable. Now, read a few entries about topics that you’re already familiar with to get acquainted with the way in which the ideas are presented.
Once you’ve got a basic understanding of the documentation’s scope and organization, You’ll be better able to locate answers when you need help. Just having seen a particular topic in the docs will save you time looking it up later. It will also boost your confidence.
Keep in mind that docs come in varying levels of quality, but even docs of poor quality can be helpful if you become familiar with their general layout. High quality, well-organized docs can be invaluable.
You Can Avoid Being “that person”
Sometimes, a person will ask a question on a site like Stack Overflow and another person will respond by citing the documentation. This makes the asker look kinda bad. Worse yet is when a response begins with LMGTFY or LMGT4U, which both stand for “Let me Google that for you”. Ouch! Don’t be the person that get’s this reply. The docs can help you avoid being that person.
Get Acquainted Early
If you’re going to spend any significant amount of time working with a specific technology, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the documentation for that technology – even if you just poke around enough to get an understanding of the organization of the concepts in the docs. Once you are familiar with this tool, it will be a valuable resource in your work. Familiarity with the docs saves you time and boosts your confidence.