The manuals currently use shortdescs as follows:
Getting Started: Every subtopic has a shortdesc.
Developer's Guide: Most subtopics have shortdescs. Only one of the subtopics in the Working with Derby properties section has one; the section was brought over from the Reference Manual, I think. Other than that, only 13 subtopics, mostly code examples, do not have them.
Admin Guide: In part 1, only 11 subtopics have shortdescs; in part 2, most subtopics have shortdescs (all but 12).
Reference Manual: Few subtopics have shortdescs, though 39 of 78 function topics, 17 of 38 system procedure topics, and all the system table and XPLAIN style table topics have them; outside of these sections, only 12 do.
Tools Guide: Only 5 subtopics have shortdescs.
Tuning Derby: Only 2 subtopics have shortdescs.
We could deal with this inconsistency in any of several ways –
1) Add shortdescs to all subtopics where they do not exist.
2) Remove all shortdescs where they exist.
3) An in-between solution: remove the scattered shortdescs from the Tools and Tuning manuals. Add shortdescs where they are missing from the Developer's Guide and Admin Guide. Add shortdescs where they are missing from the function and system procedure sections of the Reference Manual, and remove the scattered ones elsewhere in that manual.
I am inclined to go with the third solution. It would make the docs more internally consistent without requiring a huge amount of work. I'm open to suggestions, though.
By "add" and "remove" I mean change the first paragraph (or sentence) of the topic to be the shortdesc, and vice versa.