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Announcing a Unified .NET Documentation Experience

| by Michael Stiefel on Apr 28, 2017. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

Microsoft has announced its new .NET API browser. This browser will be the place to find all relevant .NET documentation. Reference documentation for the .NET Framework, .NET Core, .NET Standard, Xamarin, and the Azure NuGet packages are included in the first release. Additional areas of coverage will be added based on user feedback.

Now there is a standardized way to search, present, discover, and navigate all .NET-compatible SDK documentation in one place. Since a search engine will no longer be needed to find the relevant documentation, and where to download the appropriate package, developer productivity will be improved.

You can search for a namespace, class, or method by its full or partial name directly into the API Browser. This will work in a similar manner to IntelliSense. Typing a keyword will give a list of possibilities you can choose from. You can also pick a set of Quick Filters to narrow the search space, or you can search through all the APIs. Filters allow you to read the documentation with C#, VB, or C++ examples; there are also filters to specify which version of .NET you wish to search. You no longer have to worry if a type is contained in a certain version. At the top of the browser there is a table of contents for the APIs so that you can read through the documentation if necessary. A PDF download is also available.

The documentation itself has been made more readable because you see the most important information first. The general overview and the programming examples (filtered by language) will come before the detailed documentation. Whether you are browsing a namespace, type, or member, the table of contents on the left side of the browser will show the children of what you are browsing. You will then be able to see the context of what you are looking at.

Continuous integration tools allow accurate documentation to be available within hours of release. The managed reference documentation is auto-generated from the NuGet or framework distributions. This documentation is generated using open tools such as DocFX and mdoc.

Community contributions to the documentation will be enabled within the next month. Since the documentation uses the ECMAXML format, there is a consistent format for all the SDKs. Content can be contributed using Markdown, embedded in the auto-generated documentation. You do not need to know anything about documentation file formats.

The User Voice site allows users to request improvements, and vote on which suggestions are most important. This includes what additional documentation users want to see added to the API browser. The Twitter handle, @docsmsft, is available for quick updates.

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