Loren on the Art of MATLAB

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What’s Up, Doc? 5

Posted by Loren Shure,

Today’s guest blogger is Leslie McBrayer, who is in the Documentation group at MathWorks. Her team's goal is to make it easier for you to learn how to use our products. She is writing today about some features of the R2015b documentation: a few that are new, and a few that have been around for some time.


Function and Block Pages

If you're like most folks who use our documentation, you have probably viewed reference pages that provide detailed information about how to use specific functions or blocks. To get a sense of what has changed for R2015b, let's look at the page for a brand new function, rad2deg.

doc rad2deg

In general, the pages look very much as they did before, though we've made some cosmetic improvements to some elements, like the search bar. In previous releases, the search bar was lurking near the top, but was in the middle of the page, close to similar-looking elements. Now, we hope you don't have to think about where to find it.

Although this isn't one of our longer pages, it undoubtedly scrolls off the bottom of your browser window. However, you can use the new "On This Page" links on the left to quickly navigate to sections of the page, like "Examples" or "Input Arguments."

Ideally, the examples on the page help you see how our functionality works. Did you know that you can run example code directly from the installed Help browser, without copying and pasting into the Command Window? Select the code to run, right-click, and select Evaluate Section. (This is one of those features that's been around a while, but that not everyone has discovered.)

Many functions and blocks, especially those recently introduced, indicate at the bottom of their page when they made their debut. If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you can verify that rad2deg is, in fact, new for R2015b.

Archived Versions

By default, the documentation that you see in the Help browser is installed on your machine along with the software. Naturally, the installed content is specific to your release.

We realize, though, that sometimes it's helpful to see documentation for another release. We archive previous releases of the documentation on our Web site, so you can access it there (assuming you have a MathWorks Account and license). The help landing page is at www.mathworks.com/help.

From the landing page, you can select "Other Releases" from the list on the left side of the page. Then, you can choose the release from the list.

Online Content

Of course, the online documentation isn't just for archived versions: it is also where we maintain the most up-to-date content for our products. You can view this content in MATLAB by setting a Help preference. Specifically, on the Home tab, in the Environment section, click Preferences. Select MATLAB > Help, and then set the Documentation Location.

Font Size

If the text seems too large or small, you can quickly zoom into the page using Ctrl + Mouse Scroll. This setting is remembered across sessions, and applies to all subsequent Help browser tabs--which, by the way, you can now manage using standard keyboard shortcuts, like Ctrl + T to open a new tab.

Product Information

For details about these and other new features, check out the MATLAB Release Notes. As of R2015b, you can quickly navigate to Release Notes and to other product-level information, like Getting Started, from any page in the documentation. Click the information icon (the "i") next to the product name on the left side of the page.

Your Feedback Welcomed

Reading about documentation is a very "meta" activity; thanks for your kind attention. If you have any general feedback on the overall documentation, we welcome it here.

Get the MATLAB code

Published with MATLAB® R2015b


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5 CommentsOldest to Newest

Al replied on : 1 of 5
Hi, all the improvements are useless, if documentation can't be accessed. This is for some toolboxes the case (embedder coder / HDL coder), when they are not linked to the matlab account. In this case someone has do download the pdf file without all the nice and useful improvements... So the best improvment would be: don't restrict access to documentation :-) greetings
Julian replied on : 2 of 5
I really like the evaluation (F9) feature that you mention. It's very nice that it works in the Help Browser - I often evaluate the examples in the doc to get me started when exploring a function. Its also recommended to include examples in your own in-code Help; I usually use these as a first test (no need to have a separate file of unit-tests) invoking them using help func.. or doc func.. then F9'ing my own examples. Also very useful is the ability to F9 part of an expression as you type it in the command window but before you finish and press return! Indeed I am so habituated that I sometimes try and evaluate code in my Chrome browser! PS. good to learn how to find the release notes, but please don't deprecate whatsnew. Also I know how to get to previous releases on your web site but it would be really great if you could switch the release no while staying on a doc page, e.g. next to the version the feature was added could be a list of releases since and you could switch between versions of that feature's doc-page for each release.
Leslie replied on : 3 of 5
Thanks to both of you for your feedback! Al - I forwarded your comments to our User Experience team. We are investigating ways to improve access to the documentation, and appreciate your input. Julian - I'll let the development team know about your requests to keep "whatsnew" and to allow switching versions of a particular page. I'll continue to monitor the comments here, and will forward any additional feedback to the relevant teams. We are continually working to improve our products and web site, and appreciate you taking the time to respond.
Volkmar replied on : 4 of 5
There are actually two documentation systems: doc and help I use both of them, and in many cases they complement each other. Each of them has its strengths and weaknesses, but I would miss something if I had only one of them. Use cases for the help system include quick lookup of function syntax for known functions exploration of unknown functionality using TAB-expansion in command window It also has many advantages when working with 3rd party tools documenting own code - writing a help command is much less effort than setting up documentation pages working in a MATLAB -nodesktop or -nodisplay environment (e.g. debugging code on a compute cluster) On the other hand, the doc system is great for in-depth introduction to topics covered by a set of functions or objects worked and illustrated examples Release notes, information about new, changed or replaced functionality Unfortunately the maintenance of two documentation systems always bears the risk that overlapping information gets out of sync. I also seem to notice that more and more help-related information about function syntax is only documented in doc pages. Instead of slowly phasing out help in favor of doc I would like to vote for keeping both systems, each with its own, almost non-overlapping content.
Leslie replied on : 5 of 5
I have an update regarding access: As of November 11, you can access most product documentation without a license, including documentation for Embedded Coder and HDL Coder. Some products still require that you log in using a MathWorks account, but creating an account is a one-time operation that requires only an email address. Thanks again to all who provided feedback here.