Re: Ideas in Motion

Subject: Re: Ideas in Motion
From: "Anthony Markatos" <tonymar -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: stephena -at- compbear -dot- com, tonymar -at- hotmail -dot- com, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 07:24:34 PST

Tony Markatos responds to Katie Kearns:

Your class's experience is just further prof that written text is a
very poor vehicle to use for documenting procedural information. To quote Ed Yourdon "Procedure is like dance - it defies written description."

What Ed means is that procedure is asynchronous - multiple things happening at the same time and multi-decision branching. Text is very poor at describing such.

Steve Arrants responded:

And yet people have been using text-only procedures quite successfully for years and years.

Tony Markatos responds:

You are stating that the status quo, in terms of documentation usability, is all right. There are a lot knowledgeable people who strongly disagree with you.

Steve Arrants said:

It isn't that the text is poor in some situations, it may be that the writer isn't in the same mind-set as the user.

Tony Markatos responds:

It is often true that the writer has a different mind set than the user. That is another issue. The fact remains that written text is a very poor means of communicating procedural information.

Steve Arrants said:

Flow-chart graphics may only further confuse and frustrate the user. You not only need to know WHAT the procedure will do, but WHY the user would need to do it.

Tony Markatos:

I'll go you one step further: graphics usually confuse more than clarify. The reason is that most technical communicators are poor at creating graphics.

However, the above does not change the fact that good graphics (along with supporting text) clearly communicate procedural information. And that text is a poor means of communicating procedural information. (For the reason stated at the top of this post.)

Tony Markatos
(tonymar -at- hotmail -dot- com)

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