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Navigating IBM i's Documentation Web

August 17, 2009

I thought it’d be good to start by reviewing the IBM i documentation and online resources available. Most of the technical topics that I'll be sharing via this blog are already documented in some manner – the issue is knowing where to find the documentation and then finding the time to read all it all!

IBM i Information Center

This is the formal documentation repository for each release. The Information Center has a tremendous amount of documentation but built-in search capabilities do leave a little to be desired. The English version of the Information Center is updated periodically; national language translated versions are not.

IBM Systems Hardware Information Center

This is where the hardware information is documented. Depending upon where you navigate to, you may end up taking links that lead you back to the IBM i Information Center.

IBM i Web presence 

This is the IBM Web site for IBM i marketing information. It's mostly overview information that reviews the key features and benefits. These Web pages generally link to the IBM i Information Center for technical documentation. There’s an amazing amount of information within the IBM i Web presence - but once again, finding it is the challenge! However, the Web pages do have a method to the madness. Each major topic area follows the same standards for organization, high-level content and layout.

I've solicited favorite links from my peers in the lab to build the following list:




Redbooks, Redpapers and Technotes are great technical resources. They’re generally focused on a specific topic and cover conceptual as well as task-oriented documentation. That is, Redbooks not only tell you how to do something, but also describe why you want to do something. Redbooks are produced only for a small set of topics that IBM i supports. Within the Redbooks Web site, you’ll find a specific section for "System i" Redbooks; note that "System i" is really a legacy name since the Redbooks included in this section include Redbooks for IBM i software topics as well.

AS/400 Online Library 

I don't use this site a lot, but I really like it when I need it! Given that a lot of the software on i has been there for a long time, some of the "legacy" functions haven’t been documented in the IBM i Information Center. The Information Center does contain links to the older books that are still applicable, but you have to know how to find those links! This online library Web site is how I find the older documentation more easily.

Support for IBM i Web site

The link I have provided is the System i support link - not the Power Systems support link. The Power Systems support page doesn't have all the popular links that the System i support page has - and I think those popular links are pretty good. In addition, through this Web interface you can "Search Support," which includes more documents when going through the System i support page. Searching through the support site has the really nice feature of searching through multiple repositories - Redbooks, Software Knowledge Base, Hardware and Software Information Centers, educational information, PTFs and APARs, and more. While on the topic of the support Web site, I want to specifically discuss the Software Knowledge Base.

Software Knowledge Base

The software knowledge base is a collection of articles written by IBM support representatives to describe or document common situations, scenarios or problems seen by the support center representatives. Some of the articles are available to everyone for free, and some are only available if you have software support. But these articles can provide some really helpful information. Perhaps in future blogs, I'll point out a few that I find particularly helpful.

Within the IBM i Support site, I want to highlight a couple Web pages.



No wonder we have a hard time knowing all that's available! Just trying to summarize the main Web information turned out to be surprising difficult; but what's really amazing is that I've just scratched the surface in this brief review of IBM i online information. Each and every one of these links is just the starting point for a wealth of information, not to mention the fact that I've only identified a subset of the topics that we document on the Web. This just confirms why it’s so hard to know about all the capabilities of i and why we need this blog!

Next week's blog will be on to the technical topics. Stay tuned. 


Posted August 17, 2009| Permalink