Provide a mini-tutorial for utilizing the documentation

Unanswered Question
Mar 18th, 2010

I think the way the docs are laid out is pretty logical, but not necessarily intuitive. I see a lot of people give up digging through the index manually and favor the Google route, instead of exterting the extra effort to find exactly what they need from the index.

I forced myself to learn to use the documentation properly after being bitten too many times working off of documentation located via Google which applied to an incorrect IOS version or a dissimilar hardware platform. I put together a short guide to illustrate the strategy I use for navigating the docs to hopefully help others:

I have no doubt the documentation maintainers could come up with something ten times more elegant than what I did. Just a short tutorial, maybe five minutes in length, accessible from the main documentation page. "First time using the docs? Read this to get started!" That sort of thing.

I have this problem too.
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Janel Kratky Mon, 03/22/2010 - 18:26

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Hi Jeremy,

We applaud you! You wrote up a very clever, resourceful strategy for finding the correct documentation on To be honest, writers do drill down exactly as you've described to find docs ourselves. You've turned on a light bulb in my head about how that process can be useful for others navigating for particular docs on Your three examples are very apropos and highlight three areas where customers can stumble when looking for docs. I like your outlining the paths to docs given what sort of Cisco IOS feature, switch, or command you’re looking for. We can’t always control how navigation is masterminded on but we’ll look into how we may be able to better inform customers as to how to locate documentation.

A few others have written in about navigation challenges, here’s an excerpt that you may find helpful:

Although navigation can still be a challenge, we are pleased about some recent innovations on for finding information and getting back to it once you have found what you are looking for:

  •, note the My Cisco tab at the top of the site - here's where you can add your bookmarks (including to PDFs), track or access Recent Service Requests, Software Alerts, Recently Used Products, Added Devices, Support Notifications, and the new Collaboration Spaces.

  • To get started quickly with the new customization features, we like this interactive little demo - point and click on  the features you're interested in.

I can also understand why a documentation-specific tutorial could be helpful, but the information above may be of help. Thank you for posting the short guide and for spending as much time as you have navigating and searching for the right documentation!


Janel Kratky

Janel Kratky Thu, 03/25/2010 - 12:53

Hi Jeremy,

There is one item I need to correct from my reply above about the My Cisco bookmark feature.

The My Cisco bookmarks won't work from the PDF of a document or when you are in a book window (for example; Cisco IOS IP Routing: EIGRP Configuration Guide, Release 12.4T). This functionality is available from the prior page or from one level higher up at the Cisco IOS 12.4T main page.

We understand that this is less than ideal and encourage you to submit feedback (we will send the feedback on as well) using the feedback link at the very bottom of pages, the feedback form available within the chapters of a book, or using the yellow side-bar feedback form when available.

Janel Kratky


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