Idea: Stack Overflow for developer support


(Andrew Mager) #1

Dear SmartThings developer community,

I’ve been chatting with the support and community team here about pointing developers to Stack Overflow for support on technical questions and topics.

To me, Stack Overflow is the place on the internet to go for questions about code: http://stackoverflow.com/

Another advantage of using Stack is that search engines can index questions and answers. Our current solution is a private ticket system that sometimes distracts our support team, and your questions get backed up in a queue.

I also love the game mechanics of Stack. I remember the early days of learning to code and Googling that random CSS or vim question and realizing someone else had the same problem, and someone in the community helped them solve it. I know the points and badges are meaningless, but they are fun to acquire. Follow me on there btw :smile:

On Stack Overflow, the community can help themselves with problem code. I also want to put more emphasis on our engineering team to help out.

We have had a few questions tagged with SmartThings already: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/smartthings

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you gotten programming help before on Stack Overflow?


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(Patrick Stuart [@pstuart]) #2

I use stack overflow for help quite often, especially when learning the nuances of a new language and how to do basic constucts, etc.

Love the idea of using Stack Overflow for simple programming questions using ST’s limited / restricted version of Groovy.


(Mike Maxwell) #3

I’m ambivalent on this one, what I really need in life is yet another forum to track…

Can’t we just partition a section over here?, allow the indexing bots into that page?

It makes sense to use stack for groovy questions, but it’s not answered many for me to date.
And then you’ve got the ST groovy flavor, and magic method invocation…


(Gary D) #4

I think I agree with @Mike_Maxwell on this. I think most ST dev questions are specific to ST. Even ones related to the language (groovy) should be handled with ST in mind.

For example, I was trying to figure out a way to dynamically call “devicename.on()” when I didn’t know the command name ahead of time. (It was in a string.) Searches of stack trace only suggested Eval() or GroovyShell (along with Binding, etc.) These things are blocked in ST. Had I not wasted time chasing things that are legal in Groovy, but blocked in ST, I’d have found my solution much faster (deviceName."$cmd"()) (Okay, sure, I only wasted about 10 minutes, but still…)

No, I didn’t find the solution on stack overflow. It was actually a sarcastic attempt to make things work. (Yes, I’m sarcastic towards my dev tools. No, don’t ask.)


(Andrew Mager) #5

So you think our forum and community are strong enough on this site that its better to ask code-related questions here?

Should we make a new category for developer support?


(Gary D) #6

I think our community is becoming strong enough on this site, AND that ST’s variation of groovy has enough quirks, that it’s better to try to answer ST specific code related questions here.

As for creating a new category, I think it would be an excellent idea.

I’d probably be active in both answering AND asking questions. Playing with this thing is starting to seriously intrude on my daytime job. (I have to wonder what my cats think when the lights flash and doors lock/unlock and no one is home…)

Take care
Gary


(Alex) #7

I also think that ST flavor of groovy (STroovy, scroowy?) is best left for the community to support.

The down side is that we don’t have good search tools, although having a dedicated category would help to narrow down the search scope.


(Gary D) #8

I should have used a word other than “quirks.” I wouldn’t want it to be confused with Wink (quirky.)


(Mike Maxwell) #9

LMAO, OK I’ll make a pitch for Scroovy…


(Andrew Mager) #10

I like Smroovy.

Sounds good about the category. The only advantage that Stack Overflow has in this case is the ability to upvote and downvote answers. Although Discourse (this platform) allows you to heart a comment. And when it reaches a certain number of hearts, that answer moves up.

@April and I will talk about making a new category for developer support on here shortly.

Thanks for your feedback and keep it coming.


(Gary D) #11

It does? I never knew that this forum changed the order of threaded conversations…


(Jody) #12

I am kind of conflicted on this one. I think discourse is great for having threaded conversations, but as has been noted in the past; we tend to have the same conversations over and over. On a platform like stack exchange, the best answers bubble to the top and they are very easy to find. Could we have something different within the developer portal that looked more like stack exchange and leave the community for general help? I am glad at the very least developer discussions will have their own category, but the way discourse is set up it really won’t be apparent.


(The fish is still dead.) #13

I like the idea of Stack Overflow’s interface, but I don’t like having yet another site to keep up to date on. If there’s any way of getting the up/down voting or designating an “accepted” answer with Discourse, that’d be great.


(Andrew Mager) #14

I’ll do some investigating with @Jim on this.


(Andrew Mager) #15

I like how Google handles developer (community) support: https://developers.google.com/maps/support/#have_a_question_about_your_code


(Jody) #16

I think that having a separation of concerns would help all involved. If the developer discussions were migrated into the developer portal it would also remove some friction for the end users as well. The way it is now, and even with a separate category, users who are not programmers can inadvertently install buggy device types or smart apps. When this happens it degrades the user experience and they end up blaming SmartThings. Having a separate developer board modeled after stack exchange or Google’s developer community would help to streamline development, remove repetitive posts about how to do things with the platform, and prevent end users from installing buggy code. This would free up the discourse board to be used for general discussion and support using the production app and related devices.


(Andrew Mager) #17

I’m slowly realizing that this community site is our Stack Overflow.


(Patrick Stuart [@pstuart]) #18

lol, slowly? Just wish the search was better.


#19

But of course as my old boss used to say:

is and should be are two different things. :wink: