Oracle DocumentsPosted: August 22, 2007
I’ve run into a nice post about RTFM on the BAAG journal. Yes, I know this is not exactly news, but I think its going to resonate with many DBAs. However, I suspect that the RTFM post oversimplifies what is actually a rather painful issue.
Lets start with the fact that many DBAs are not native English speakers. They know enough English to get along nicely, but reading technical documents can still be a slow and painful activity. Perhaps slower than waiting for a kind soul on a mailing list.
Then, there is the fact that getting meaningful answers out of Oracle documentation is a bit of an art form. There are both OTN documents and documents in Metalink. They sometimes contradict, so you need to verify which is more updated, but make sure it matches your version.
If you need to know how to configure automatic memory manager or how to rebuild an index, the documentation is pretty good. If you need to know what happens when you set SGA_MAX_SIZE to zero while using automatic memory management, you are in for a significant search at the end of which you will have more information and still end up having to make a guess which may or may not be correct. I remember looking for a good quote that will allow me to prove to my boss that if we rebuild an index with parallel option, all queries using this index will be parallelized to the same degree. I couldn’t find one, although it could be inferred by combining several paragraphs from two different books in the right way.
There is a reason for the huge market for Oracle books other than the official documentation. Thats because the official documentation is difficult to read and sometimes is not even good enough as a reference. There are a bunch of websites, blogs and magazine articles that explain information that is already contained in Oracle documents. A co-worker is learning PL/SQL and asked for good book. You can bet I told him to get Steve Feuerstein’s PL/SQL book and didn’t tell him to download Oracle’s book from OTN.
So, I agree with Simon Haslam at BAAG that people need to RTFM. I just wouldn’t recommend Oracle’s official documentation for that purpose.