Project Brings Javadoc to Dynamic Database

JDocs, a new online community site from Javalobby, takes Java documentation in static HTML format and delivers it to developers via a dynamic database, where they can contribute notes and share information.

Javalobby this week released a new online Java documentation community site that enables developers to not only access documentation for popular Java tools and libraries, but also to cross-link, search and provide user-contributed notes.

The new Javalobby project, called JDocs, can be found at

Rick Ross, president of Cary, N.C.-based Javalobby Inc., which is a grass-roots organization representing hundreds of thousands of Java developers, called JDocs "one of the biggest things we have done" since creating the organization.

Ross said JDocs serves an important purpose by taking typical Java documentation—known as javadoc, which exists in static HTML format—and delivering it to developers via a dynamic database. Javadoc is a tool for generating API documentation in HTML format from "doc" comments in source code. It is the de facto standard for Java documentation, Ross said.

"Because we have a dynamic, database-driven application, we have the ability to allow developers to put in user-contributed notes" along with the documentation.

"The basic idea behind JDocs is that the knowledge in the javadoc API documentation can be materially enhanced by user-contributed notes," Ross said. "The overall value of the API knowledge grows as JDocs users share their questions, answers, tips, links, example code and other relevant information with each other. The JDocs service provides a home for a community-based effort to gather and share this Java API knowledge."

Ross said that in relation to JDocs, the term API—which typically means application programming interface—refers to a complete package of classes and interfaces such as Java 2 Standard Edition (J2SE) and the open-source Spring and Hibernate environments.

One of the hassles of Java programming is the tedium of finding the right documentation, Ross said. "You have to know where it is, or you have to have it locally on your computer. … Every developer needs documentation, because you dont intuitively know everything and you have to look it up."

And to make things easier, "you need to have the documentation searchable and available in one place," Ross said.

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Regarding the value of the JDocs project, Ross said, "In my opinion, sharing knowledge about real programming will be the single most crucial determining factor for prosperity and long-term success for virtually every developer in the global Java community."

Ross said the JDocs project has generated a groundswell of support in the community, prompting hundreds of e-mails since the site went live earlier this week.

"The thing that is most encouraging to me, even with all of the positive feedback from the community, is the quality and quantity of the user-contributed notes that are already starting to flow in," Ross said. "Because it is in those comments that well find the sharing of knowledge which I believe is so vital."

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In addition, Ross said Javalobby has some "super slick" features, already operative but not yet public, that allow any user to subscribe to RSS feeds from virtually any level of the hierarchy, "making it drop-dead simple, for example, to monitor the feedback about the JDBC [Java Database Connectivity] package or any of its classes."

Meanwhile, Ross said a Java developer has already written a JDocs plug-in to the Eclipse open-source application development platform.

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