z/XDC: A New HELP MAINTENANCE Manual, and a New Branch of MAINTENANCE Topics in our Built-in Help

We recently published a couple of z/XDC updates (DBC-2108C and DBC-2108I) That reorganize all maintenance related topics into a more sensible and more readable structure, and consolidated them into one branch of the Built-in Help. That new branch is named HELP MAINTENANCE.

There also is a new, downloadable PDF named  z/XDC Maintenance and New Functionality Guide

And the old z/XDC Release Guide is now retired.


The Problem:

Previously, whenever we introduced new functionality into z/XDC, we did it by writing and publish a product update, and then we documented that update in a HELP topic named HELP WHATSNEW Z22 MAINTENANCE. Then eventually, the HELP WHATSNEW Z22 topic and all of its subtopics would be gathered together and published in a z/XDC Release Guide.

There were a couple of problems with this:

  • While the MAINTENANCE subtopic within the Release Guide was kept bleeding-edge up to date, the rest of the Guide's subtopics were not. In fact, at this point, most of the Guide is 5 years obsolete and long past the point of needing to be retired.
  • Since product updates are the way that we publish new functionality, the HELP WHATSNEW Z22 MAINTENANCE subtopic is the first place where new usage information is published. So it's a pretty important topic!
  • But being buried deep within an obsolete Release Guide, the MAINTENANCE subtopic was hard to find.

We needed a better way.


The Better Way 

We still use product updates to publish both fixes and new functionality, but with the DBC-2108C and DBC-2108I updates, we think we've made the documentation easier to find and easier to sift through. 

  • First, we've moved all maintenance related subtopics out of the several HELP WHATSNEW branches and gathered them together in one place: HELP MAINTENANCE. This means that MAINTENANCE is now featured on HELP's front page.
  • Second, we've retired the Release Guide. In its place there is a new PDF named z/XDC Maintenance and New Functionality Guide that contains all the information we have about product updates for the past several years.
  • The Guide also contains documentation about how to download and install new maintenance.
  • All update descriptions, starting with this past January 2021, are now contained in their own, individual subtopics of the HELP MAINTENANCE 2021 topic.
  • All update descriptions are now tagged to indicate which items are just fixes and which items implement something new or changed.
  • The links from HELP MAINT 2021 to its subtopics are descriptive, so you can easily choose for which updates you want to see more details.
  • The individual update description subtopics will continue to have crosslinks into the primary documentation where the functional changes and additions are permanently documented.

Note, PDFs are string searchable, while our Built-in Help, as a whole, is not. Yes, individual topics are searchable (using the SCANLOG command), but the HELP as a whole is not. So this is one advantage the PDFs have over the Built-in Help.

We've also updated our topics describing how to download and install new maintenance. They can be found both within z/XDC and in the new Guide at HELP MAINTENANCE SUPPORT. (The old HELP SUPPORT MAINTENANCE topics have been retired.) This change brings the information up to date, and it is included in the z/XDC Maintenance and New Functionality Guide.

For more information, please see HELP MAINTENANCE.


Please let us know what you think.
Dave Cole
August 21, 2021