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This is an idea for the code highlighter. For questions/comments tagged with a single language, how about giving us some context sensitive documentation?

Known language constructs (e.g. Classes in the package java.*) should link to (or display on-mouse-over) the appropriate documentation when the language is known and code blocks are being displayed.

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4 Answers 4

SO isn't a tutorial site for making your first Java game, it's a site to get answers to your problems. Very rarely is 'what is a class' a problem, and I don't think many people would benefit from documentation on the constructs alone.

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This sounds very expensive with not a lot of return.

For every class name in a piece of Java (for example) code you have to make a query and a link to another website which could potentially not return in a reasonable amount of time.

How would this help people get answers? If they people trying to provide the answers don't understand basic portions of the framework or language constructs, who wants them answering the question anyway?

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I don't see how a web service call out would be required for every class. A hash look up would be required at most for classes covered in the basic java.* javadoc. I often find common classes used in new and interesting ways when looking over SO answers. And when I do I often jump to the javadoc to verify use is in fact correct and mabie learn a thing or two. –  Chris Nava Sep 10 '09 at 5:07

If you are using an obscure library, you should provide a link to it yourself. Otherwise, enough people should know what a function or class does that the documentation is unnecessary.

If you really want to answer a question, but you aren't familiar with the library, it is your responsibility to do the research.

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How about an alternative of providing some richer syntax for linking to methods for some well known frameworks, so maybe having a pseudo-protocol for links of "doc:" so you could link to "doc:java/java.IO.println" or "doc:net/System.Data.SqlClient.SqlCommand" (obviously syntax would probably need to be refined/tweaked, but hopefully you get the idea)

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Why the downvote? That would achieve the same result, and would allow the highlighting to be restricted to that that is intended... –  Rowland Shaw Aug 11 '09 at 20:40

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