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Tips to get the most out of Google Cloud Documentation

As a Google Cloud practitioner, you typically spend a lot of time in the documentation pages to read up on the guides, commands, tutorials and more. The documentation team has introduced several features over the years to make it easier to be more productive while working with Google Cloud documentation.

A few of these tips would be well known to some of you and I am hoping that there is at least one tip that you go away with that helps you. In no particular order, here are my personal list of tips that I have found useful.

Interactive Tutorials or Walkthroughs

This is an excellent feature of the documentation, where an interactive tutorial opens up right in the Google Cloud Console and you can complete the tutorial as a sequence of steps. Several tutorials are available from the Google Cloud Console via the Support icon in the top Action Bar. 

Search

The Search bar at the top in the Google Cloud console is an efficient way to search for various product services, documentation pages, tutorials and even Google Cloud Resources (e.g. Compute Engine VM names). 

While you can locate the specific Product page from the hamburger menu on the top left and the subsequent left-navigation bar, the Search bar is probably the quickest way to get to a product (Extra points to those who are power users and have used the “pin” feature to lock frequently used products at the top of the list in the left-navigation bar). 

Here is a screencast demonstrating how to search for a specific product. You will notice that it’s just not about going to a specific product but it also provides you different sections (Tutorials, Google Cloud Resources, etc).

If you would like to straightaway look at all the products and their related documentation, you should check out the View all Products link in the left-navigation bar. The screencast below demonstrates that. 

Need more tutorials, Quickstarts and reference guides? 

You have probably noticed that as you navigate across the documentation, we have a list of tutorials, Quickstarts and reference guides available for each of the products. There are couple of ways that I use to get more information on a specific product. 

First up, you will notice that some of our product pages have a Learn icon. Here is a sample of the Compute Engine product home page.

Click on the Learn button to get access to a bunch of related documentation around the product. 

At times, I want to try out a few more interactive tutorials (walkthroughs). You would have noticed that via the Support icon in the top action bar, you can get access to some interactive tutorials via the Start a tutorial link as we saw earlier. This list is limited and there are other interactive tutorials available and you can get them as follows:

Let’s say that you are interested in learning more about IAM and want to check out the various interactive tutorials that are available under this service. Go to the main Search bar at the top and enter IAM. This will present a list of search results as we saw earlier. 

You will notice that we provide a few results under the Documentation and Tutorials section as shown above. The keyword here is Interactive Tutorial. 

If you click on See more results … , this will lead to a search results page, where you can further filter into interactive tutorials only. 

Saving your favorite documentation pages

At the top of each documentation page, you will see a Bookmark icon that you can click on to save to  your collection of documentation pages that you can then reference easily from your Google Profile. 

For e.g. here is a documentation page on how to create and start a VM instance in Compute Engine. I wish to bookmark this document. All I need to do is click on the Bookmark icon as shown below:

You can choose to save it to your My saved pages or create a New Collection and save it in that. In my case above, I have created a new collection named Compute Engine and I chose to bookmark this page under that. 

How do you access all your bookmarked pages? On the top bar, next to your Google Profile pic, you will see a set of 3 dots, click on that. This will provide you a way to visit your Google Developer Profile associated with that account. One of the options as you can see below is that of Saved pages. 

When you visit the page, you will see your Saved Pages as shown below:

You can tap on any of the collections that you have created and all your bookmarks will be available under that. 

Providing Feedback

Your feedback is valuable and Google Cloud Documentation makes it easy for you to submit your feedback. Notice the Send feedback button on the documentation pages. Click that and it will help you give us feedback on the specific page or the particular product documentation in general. 

Interactive Code samples

This one continues to be one of my favorites and it boosts developer productivity by multiple  levels, especially when you are trying out the various gcloud commands. The specific feature is about using placeholder variables in the commands e.g. Project ID, Region, etc that you need to repeat across a series of commands. 

The feature is well over 2+ years old and has been well documented in the following blog post. I reproduce a screencast of the same here and reproduce the text from that blog post pertaining to this feature:

“If a page has multiple code samples with the same placeholder variable, you only need to replace the variable once. For example, when you replace a PROJECT_ID variable with your own Google Cloud project ID, all instances of the PROJECT_ID variable (including in any other command line samples on the page) will use the same Google Cloud project ID.”

Hope this set of tips was useful to you. If you would like to try out an interactive tutorial, try out the Compute Engine quickstart

I am sure you have a list of your own tips that you have found useful while working with Google Cloud documentation? Do reach out on Twitter (@iRomin) with those. I’d love to hear about them. 

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