MySQL Website a Reflection of Values
May 17, 2008 / By Sheeri Cabral
I understand that MySQL as a company wants to recruit paying customers. However, as a community user I have a hard time finding what I want on the MySQL website. Today’s frustration is brought to you by trying to find the documentation.
Go ahead, hit http://www.mysql.com. From there, where do you go to find the documentation?
It’s not Services, not even Services -> Support.
According to Products, the community server is not even a product. How is a potential new user, who wants to learn about MySQL, supposed to know a community version exists? Here are the products listed on the Products page:
MySQL Enterprise Monitor
MySQL Embedded Database
MySQL Database Drivers
MySQL Database Tools
Where’s “MySQL Database” on that list? A website user basically has to know what they’re looking for, since that page does not help find “the mysql database”. You can guess it’s the “MySQL Enterprise” — but you’d be wrong. Imagine if you’re a person unfamiliar with MySQL who has been told “go to the MySQL website and get the free version of the database, it’s great!”
OK, OK, I know, you’re saying “click on Downloads”. Which takes me to the “choose which version you want to download.” OK, nice for newbies, but really annoying for the experienced. Why aren’t the links to download at the top, with the explanations just underneath? A newbie would be presented with the links, think “I don’t know which to choose!” but then see that the descriptions are just underneath. An experienced user can just click and go.
This of course is made even more silly when you realize that the community download link simply scrolls down. Yes, that’s right, the community downloads immediately follow that chart of explanations. Which means that in the current state, when the link is at the bottom of the chart, the link points you to the next line. If the link is at the top of the page, at least there’s a reason for it — to scroll down past the explanations.
Now recall that the exercise was to find documentation. There is no way to download the documentation here.
I am a non-paying user, not a developer. Going to the “Developer Zone” is not intuitive for me. However, that is exactly where I need to be:
Given that list of topics, why on earth is this section called the “Developer Zone”? (it’s a rhetorical question!) Sure, if I’m a software developer I might think it’s useful to me. On any other website “developer zone” is relegated to advanced users, or folks using some different part of the product than what most people use (think Apple’s Developer Connection).
Take a look at that list. On any other website, it would be under “Support” or “Help” or “Learn”.
No wonder folks have no idea that the forums exist, much less the Forge or Planet MySQL. If I was a new user to MySQL and I wanted to find the documentation, I’d be very unhappy.
Heck, I’m very unhappy anyway — what kind of company has a huge community of people supporting each other and contributing back to the company, and does not give people an easy way to find the community?
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