Product Reviews

Living Doc 2.55

Living Doc is an automatic documentation tool that's designed to help you keep track of all the pieces of a database-backed web project: HTML and ASP pages, COM objects, and database details included. To use Living Doc, you tell it where to find things -- your web site, your database -- and what security information to use to log on. Then you turn it loose to scan. Presently (a process that can take a while if you have a lot of objects), you'll get the results back.

There are two ways you can view the results. First, Living Doc has its own ASP application interface that lets you drill into your project and trace the relationships between objects by following hyperlinks. Second, it can also compile all of this information into an HTML Help file, for portability to other computers that don't have Living Doc installed.

Mostly, Living Doc just pulls out the source code that's already there and looks for connections. It can also find a few special fields - it knows that "author" and "description" are special words that it should keep track of. The software is smart enough to trace relationships among items and to expand include files, so the resulting documentation is pretty richly linked. It covers databases, pages, COM objects, stored procedures, tables, views, triggers, and more.

The main use of Living Doc would be to do all the donkey work of collecting disparate documentation for you. It's going to be most useful, though, if you're disciplined enough to put good header comments into things. And you'll still need to write your own overall architectural documentation. But Living Doc can give you a lot of help in remembering how all the pieces of a complex project fit together.

[This review originally appeared in

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.


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