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Current docs are too comlicated for new Postgre users; thoughts on improvement

From: "Nikolay Samokhvalov" <samokhvalov(at)gmail(dot)com>
To: PostgreSQL-documentation <pgsql-docs(at)postgresql(dot)org>
Subject: Current docs are too comlicated for new Postgre users; thoughts on improvement
Date: 2008-12-25 08:57:51
Message-ID: (view raw, whole thread or download thread mbox)
Lists: pgsql-docs
Currently, Part III (Server Administration) starts with three chapters:
  15. Installation Instructions
  16. Installation on Windows
  17. Operating System Environment

Here in Russia we have a situation, when the number of Win32 users of
Postgres is constantly increasing, so more and more questions like
"I've tried to install Postgres, clicked next/next/ok/ok/finish in
installation wizard, but it doesn't work / service cannot start / I
cannot connect" appear.

The problem is that we cannot just say "RTFM" them, because it's
really hard to find (and in some cases even impossible) to find the
proper part of docs. Why? The chapters 15 and 16 of the main docs are
not about installation -- they are about building Postgres from
sources. Currently, even for *nix DBA installation most frequently
means really installation from RPM/.deb/bsd ports/etc, including
creation of system user and running initdb.

As for Windows users, I haven't meet at least one who needs to know
how to build Postgres from sources under Windows! And really often I
see that Windows users cannot continue after some silly errors with
initdb process. Docs cannot help them -- they open Chapter 16, got
stuck and go away. And only really experienced DBAs know, that initdb
(one of the most important processes for newbies) is described in
"17.2. Creating a Database Cluster", which is located under "17.
Operating System Environment" in the main contents listing.

I think that docs really need to be clarified, at least titles should
be corrected. I'd rename chapter 15 to smth like 'Building from source
code on *nix platforms", and 16th one to 'Building from source code on
Windows' and chapter 17 (most important) to 'Creation and Initial
configuration of database cluster' (maybe with some corrections of

Going further, I'd remove detailed building instructions from the
beginning of Server Administration part (either to separate but single
chapter or even to appendix) and describe in details how to install
Postgres in different ways on different platforms, including:
 - installation from RPM/deb/other packages;
 - special attention to Windows users (how to install? what are common
problems?) /* btw, I won't wonder if win32 version of Postgres is
being downloaded more often than others */
 - short version of installation from sources;
 - initdb process;
 - initial configuration on different platforms.

I believe that this question is one of the most important when we are
thinking how to grow user base.


Sincerely yours,
Nikolay Samokhvalov
Postgresmen LLC,


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Subject: Re: Current docs are too comlicated for new Postgre users; thoughts on improvement
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