RadCoverFlow Example and Documentation

6 posts, 0 answers
  1. Ian
    Ian avatar
    51 posts
    Member since:
    Apr 2009

    Posted 07 Nov 2009 Link to this post

    I originally posted a long rant on why these were simply not of acceptable quality.

    However, whining doesn't achieve anything and it's not like Telerik don't know what the problems are.

    Time to move on and leave Telerik behind.

    Ciao.
  2. Hristo Borisov
    Admin
    Hristo Borisov avatar
    298 posts

    Posted 08 Nov 2009 Link to this post

    Hello Ian,

    I am sorry to hear that you are not satisfied with the quality of our products and in particular our documentation. We work on improving this issue, and we strive to achieve the best quality in everything we do.

    But nevertheless, I hope everybody knows what the RAD prefix in our controls stands for. It stands for Rapid Application Development, and as you know agile development has always a trade off. We can either sacrifice the agility of our cycle by spending time to constantly update documentation and not pay much attention to our customers, or we can focus on quality and completeness of the software and listen to what customers want. In this sense, I am pretty sure that most of the developers would prefer to have their features implemented and bugs resolved in the shortest possible timeframe (internal builds every Friday), instead of waiting for months for well documented features. That is why, to compensate for this, we rely on regular blogs and training sessions that target to explain every pitfall or a change you may encounter. Having development lifecycle that allows us to change customer requirements swiftly, closes the gap between customer expectation and perception.

    Nevertheless, I agree that this does not waive us from any responsibility to provide quality documentation.That is why we have undertaken major steps in improving our documentation that will make us even more agile.

    Sincerely yours,
    Hristo Borisov
    the Telerik team

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  4. Ian
    Ian avatar
    51 posts
    Member since:
    Apr 2009

    Posted 09 Nov 2009 Link to this post

    Thanks for the lucid reply.

    Whilst I would agree that the "agile" approach might be the right one, I think your approach to agile is clearly wrong to end up with such poor quality making its way to the customer. There are some pretty basic, extremely obvious and very easy to fix problems with your shipments. I've documented elsewhere some pretty basic stuff like the Silverlight msi installing documentation for WPF Q2 NOT Silverlight Q3, identifying itself as Controls for WPF etc etc.  And all this in spite of those "weekly builds" and the "agile development" that you're so proud of.

    Let's take the RadCoverFlow control as an example.

    Clearly a LOT of time has been spent responding to the criticism about documentation. The problem is that there's a lot of documentation and screenshots explaining the really simple easy stuff ("Each page for CoverFlow effectively covers a XAML attribute for the control.... Here's what the attribute looks like in XAML. Here's some sample code. Here's what some scenarios of changing this parameter are and here's what the results would look like in the UI").

    But get on to the stuff developers really need documentation on eg "I want to make the control look different" and what does the Telerik interpretation of an "agile" approach give us? Lots of warnings that you need to understand the structure of the control (good) with the all important link to "Required Parts" which will explain what these are containing nothing other than a heading and copyright information (bad).

    I would argue this is not "agile", this is just poor thought, poor planning and poor understanding of what a milestone release (only 3 a year remember!) should include.

    What else are beta's or weekly release cycles for, if not to improve quality?

    Another quick example...

    Your documentation for the control this is posted under only runs to a few pages (it's just a control after all). It includes the following page about the NavigationPanel: http://www.telerik.com/help/silverlight/coverflow-navigation-panel-visibility.html which refers to a NavigationPanelVisibility attribute. That attribute does not exist on the shipped control. So the whole page is meaningless and drives the customer down a false path.

    Again, to say "this is the result of agile development" is the sort of thing that gets agile a bad name and is NOT what agile development is about. After all you have a mere handful of pages of documentation for this control - how hard is it to check these before shipping?

    My guess is that either you pulled this functionality because it was not ready, or you changed its implementation and nobody thought to review the very few pages of documentation. What Telerik are effectively saying is "As part of our major release - only 3 a year remember - we won't bother checking a few pages of documentation because we're agile".

    What do you think that says about you as a company, your adherence to strong agile tenets and quality? What will it cost you in terms of lost customers, time wasted on support calls and answering questions like this in the forums? A lot more than the hour or so it would have taken someone to have just done some basic QA before shipping!
  5. Hristo Borisov
    Admin
    Hristo Borisov avatar
    298 posts

    Posted 09 Nov 2009 Link to this post

    Hi Ian,

    The msi installation problems with the documentation will be resolved immediately, however the content of our documentation is up to date. The only problems is that it is not uploaded online due to some technical issues we face. I am attaching the CHM document of the RadCoverFlow that I personally updated a month ago.

    The documentation of RadCoverFlow is as simple and straight forward as the control itself. It is just a listbox after all. The documentation focus on properties and settings, since these are the only differences between a listbox and a CoverFlow control except the CoverFlowPanel which is merely an arrange logic. You say you want to change the look of the control. That is great! Take a look at our Configurator example how to achieve this. And if you want change the look of the items itself, you can take a look at the Silverlight documentation that explains how to create an ItemTemplate. What else would you need to change in a listbox control?

    "NavigationPanel: My guess is that either you pulled this functionality because it was not ready, or you changed its implementation and nobody thought to review the very few pages of documentation. What Telerik are effectively saying is "As part of our major release - only 3 a year remember - we won't bother checking a few pages of documentation because we're agile."

    I am really sorry that you did not spend the time to check this functionality, since it was available since the first release of the control back in Fall 2008. And I will also make my guess that you haven't read both the release notes of the product or any of the three different blogs I wrote concerning any changes made in CoverFlow for Q3 that clearly explain that "Since the release of Silverlight 3 element binding is a good substitute of our navigation panel."

    I don't consider helping customers to be an opportunity cost of a product, instead it is a value adding activity to our customer experience. But, I would agree that it's an opportunity cost for you not to read our release notes or blogs just to make your learning curve flatter.

    Regards,
    Hristo Borisov
    the Telerik team

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  6. Ian
    Ian avatar
    51 posts
    Member since:
    Apr 2009

    Posted 09 Nov 2009 Link to this post

    Hristo,

    This is very simple.

    Your web site says the CoverFlow control is "New". http://demos.telerik.com/silverlight/#CoverFlow/FirstLook but now you explain that it is updated which I should have realised by following a bunch of links not prominent or listed under "Product Resources" menu on the control pages that you get to when looking at the controls.

    As any new user would I followed the publicised link to the documentation which takes me here: http://www.telerik.com/help/silverlight/radcalendar-constraining-selection-and-visible-dates.html

    There I find lots of good stuff about the need to change the look of the control being reliant on "Required Parts" (a link to a page that is missing) together with the information about the non-existent NavigationPanel (apparently now obsolete in this "new" control).

    Apparently this is all my fault because I didn't hunt around for 3 blog entries or read detailed release notes. Instead I clicked on the "Documentation" link. My bad!

    So to summarise, what I did wrong:

    • I should have realised that the "New" flag next to the control actually meant "updated" (from Fall 2008 according to your response above) and not "New" at all.

     

    • I should have read the history of changes since 2008 to understand what was offered for this "new" control and why the documentation seemed to bear no relevance to the control, by hunting around the less-than-intuitive web site for various blog entries that would have told me what I needed to know.

     

    • I should have used the downloaded CHM file and NOT the "latest" documentation on the web. This is presumably the documentation that starts off by saying it's for "WPF Q2" when I'm looking at Silverlight Q3 or has that now been fixed?

     

    • These issues are all my fault because I "did not spend the time to check this functionality" and I should have realised that I'm supposed to keep an eye on all the Telerik blogs (there are over 30 of them!), and completely ignore all your "Documentation" links before attempting to use any Telerik control.

    That being the case you really should advertise this last point on your web site. 

    Honestly I'm flabbergasted at your response, but there's clearly no point in discussing this further. I hope you don't mind if I direct any potential purchasers to this thread so that they can realise what Telerik is expecting developers to do when using their controls.
  7. Vassil
    Admin
    Vassil avatar
    66 posts

    Posted 11 Nov 2009 Link to this post

    Hello Ian,

    I'd like to join the discussion and clarify a few key points.

    First one is that we have a very different understanding of what "agile" truly is. Just like you, I don't agree with the view Hristo expressed and I can attest that it was never a trade-off decision for us - we have always strived to have both excellent products and excellent documentation. Agile is not an excuse for a lousy job, regardless of whether someone is talking about code, documentation, qa or something else.

    All of our non-XAML products do have ample documentation covering simple and advanced topics. As we want to reach the same level with the XAML products, we spent an inordinate amount of time to create new documentation for the latest Q3 release. Unfortunately, our problem did not turn out to be to write the several hundred new topics - it was to build it and package it into the different output formats. Simply put, we have outgrown our help system and with every release lately we are having problems with mis-placed topics, disappearing topics, bad links, documentation taking 5+ hours to build, etc. The build scripts are extremely complex because we share topics between Silverlight and WPF and it's a very error prone process. We are working on a complete overhaul that will solve all of those issues but, to my regret, the new system was not ready for this release and we had to deal with our legacy third-party help system (no blame on the third-party tool; it's more an issue of our needs and the way we push the tools to their limits).

    In a few months the problems discussed in this thread won't be around.

    As to the sarcastic attitude of Hristo, you have the apologies of the whole Telerik team. It's not the proper way to treat the person who pays your salary.

    Cheers,
    Vassil Terziev
    Co-founder/CEO 


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