I don't know about you, but for me MSDN online walks the narrow line between "unusable" and "painful". Every click leads to a page of 1 line of human content and 500 lines of auto-gen garbage, a reload of the table of contents, code examples in 8 languages, mouse overs begging for attention. It was so bad that I had started writing my own documentation browser!

Today, I discovered the "loband" version of the site. It's incredible in that they threw away everything that made MSDN impossible to use. It's fast. Unobtrusive. The TOC works. And there are no mouse-overs!

Some blog posts describing the move:

Here's an example of how much better it is: XElement in ridiculous form, and XElement in loband form. There is also a link to persist low bandwidth view.

Who else prefers the "loband" version of MSDN?

Should this be the default presentation of MSDN content?

+32  A: 

Microsoft finally discover ... HTML?

I've been waiting for that discovery since the first version of .NET.
Frank Krueger
And thanks for the new title!
Frank Krueger
+5  A: 

Wow, that's great!

Ionuț G. Stan
+2  A: 

I find the loband version especially handy when using pages on MSDN as references; anybody can view the page, regardless of browser and bandwidth.

Tormod Fjeldskår
+3  A: 

How do you search the low-bandwidth version?

from tfinniga's comments:

Use google. But then when you get to a page, hit the loband bookmarklet

Frank Schwieterman
They're working on it. See this thead:
Frank Krueger
Use google. But then when you get to a page, hit the loband bookmarklet.
+1  A: 

I greatly prefer the low bandwidth version. Much cleaner and faster loading.

Michael Todd
+8  A: 

Wow, I like it. But there's no language filter?

yeah, it kills me to have to see all the and c++ code samples... why can't you just set a global flag, and have it remember
Nathan Reed
lets provide some feedback on the site.
+3  A: 

Wow, I am a big fan of the low-bandwidth version.

The current site is a perfect example of KISS gone wrong.

Well, KISS not followed, really...
Michael Petrotta
Very true. Good catch on the distinction.
+6  A: 

Another low bandwidth site I've been using that has been very helpful is the wikipedia mobile site. Loads up a lot faster than the main site, and is arguably more beautiful. There are some formatting issues from an ordinary browser though (FFox 3 on Linux):

James Aguilar
+2  A: 

I've been using the lo-band version exclusively since I found the link. I recommend it to everyone. All they need is language filtering and I'll be happy.


Can't use this version.. Need the pain.. Have to use use the old version. Cannot quit. Good find though.


hmm, my 50Mb internet seems to handle both versions without problem. maybe ditch the dialup?

Darren Kopp
Agreed. Also, the hiband TOC doesn't reload on every page for me. It's in a frame.
The TOC is often redundant and takes up too much real estate. <3 dialup, 56k rulz
I'm on a 20mbit line, and the regular version is still painfully slow.
might be your browser that is painfully slow, rather than the content. i can render the full version FASTER than loband in chrome on 10Mb connection at work.
Darren Kopp
Latency Darren, latency. 5000 miles away in the UK all those secondary requests for CSS/JS/images add up. The last time I looked in detail they don't use caching headers sensibly so even a request followed by a 304: Not Modified takes and appreciable time when all added up.
Duncan Smart
That's a big internet you have there Darren ;-)
+1  A: 

Ah, interesting. I use the complete installer of the MSDN library so I have it on my hard drive, which makes it go fast generally, and you can still have the table of contents and everything. I think this "full install" setup would be my first choice, but it's quite a large download. If I didn't have the full install, I'd probably use the loband version, although I can't be sure. The main trouble I've had is Google Chrome seems to not be able to read certain pages of MSDN without squashing it all horizontally.

Ray Hidayat
I usually use a local copy also. But I find that even the local version is plagued by mouse overs and WAY too much autogen content. At least we got rid of the mouse overs. :-)
Frank Krueger
+1  A: 

Microsoft going Google's way - minimalistic :)

like it

+2  A: 

I like it but it needs a way of filtering out other languages, as I don't care about the C++/VB/JScript examples (which add a great deal to the page size).

And also the font size should be 1em, Microsoft seem to love dictating the font size to you.

For a decent site search of MSDN, bookmark the below (the editor won't let me make it a link):

javascript:q=""+(window.getSelection?window.getSelection():document.getSelection?document.getSelection():document.selection.createRange().text);if(!q)q=prompt("Search terms [leave selection and box blank to list all pages] ...").replace(/\s\+/g,"%252B");if(q!=null)location=""+q.replace(/\s+/g,"+")+"+site:"+location.hostname;void(0);
Chris S

Loband is 4 times faster than the hiband version, for me (2 secs vs 8 secs). It also looks a look cleaner and easier to use.


+1 for the lowband version...much quicker than the "normal" version. Should it be the default? hum...I'd say no, but I'd vote for having a link that would let people know that there's a version which loads quicker (something along the lines of the basic html link you see when you use gmail)

Luis Abreu
+1  A: 

I set lowband as permanent.

+4  A: 

As many above have said, after all these years MSDN has become finally usable, and also but by the way it finally works fine on iPhone/iPod now. Just some little details:

  • I think it would be better if the content took the entire width of the page (i.e. no margins). I realize that it's a graphic element, but I don't think it would look so bad without them.

  • Also, I think it would be better if the section titles in the left column were not shortened. I realize that some of them may be long. It would need some experimenting. How bad could it be if was wrapped? Would it make sense to shorten but make it longer? What about some browser built-in text trimming and a fluid layout?

These are really small details, and even without them, the low bandwidth version is a great progress. It's also a beta – so some things may change.

Jan Zich

Why is it beta? Seems it should be a pretty straight-forward conversion..

This is a testament to the "less is more" philosophy..

Ryan Emerle

Oh... my... god.

They've made MSDN work? I never thought I'd see the day. Thank you for enlightening me. +1 to you!

I can't see why anyone would ever prefer the old version. It's uglier, harder to use, have popups obstructing your view if you dare move your mouse to the wrong area of the screen. And it's always been ridiculously slow, even on fast connections.


I have Javascript turned off by default, so for me the "highband" version loads as quickly as the "loband", and is essentially the same except that the highband has a larger useless right panel.


I can middle-click scroll now!

Chris Barr

Here is a greasemonkey script which adds search to the MSDN loband site.

Just installed it, doesn't work. Sorry :/

Robert Massa
+1  A: 

I guess it happened after this question was posted, but there's now a "Lightweight Beta" view of MSDN which is even better than the script-free version:

  • Much cleaner tree in the left pane
  • Still can be filtered by language and .NET version
  • Nicer font

Here's the announcement about it.

I disagree. Microsoft desperately needs to hire graphic designers *with taste*. It looks like Rainbow Bright vomited on the thing. And what's with the ridiculous font?
Frank Krueger