RE. Objects that share a fate?

Subject: RE. Objects that share a fate?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 6 Jun 2000 09:10:05 -0400

Mark Levinson is <<... looking for a pair of words to describe a
relationship. This is a relationship in which by doing something to one
object, the user automatically does it to a number of other specified
objects... We have "parent/child" tentatively in mind, but we would rather
not have people thinking in database terms because this is rather an ad hoc
relationship,for the purpose of only one or two commands.>>

Parent/child would be my first choice, assuming you have fairly technical
users and really (really!) need to generate new jargon. If not, and given
the context (ad hoc, only one or two commands), creating a new term won't
save you an awful lot of space in the manual or online help, and certainly
not enough to justify creating new terms that readers must memorize. So
rather than creating a new term, simply describe what happens (e.g., "if you
modify A, all Bs based on A will also change"). My not so humble opinion:
Create a new word (or phrase) only when the efficiency (for the user!) of
using that word greatly outweighs the cost to your reader of having to learn
and memorize the new word (or phrase). That doesn't seem to be the case
here.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Technical writing... requires understanding the audience, understanding
what activities the user wants to accomplish, and translating the often
idiosyncratic and unplanned design into something that appears to make
sense."--Donald Norman, The Invisible Computer




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