RE: Xtreme Documentation and Training

Subject: RE: Xtreme Documentation and Training
From: "Michael West" <mike -dot- west -at- oz -dot- quest -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2001 11:53:44 +1100

M. David Orr writes:

> I'm interested in how my fellow techwhirlers have adapted document
> development and training development practices to changing software
> development processes, including extreme programming.

I work with several software development teams,
most of which have adapted at least some elements
of UML methodology.

I find that the "use case" scenarios and diagrams
associated with UML, which as planning and scoping
documents essentially replace the old, paper-intensive
sequence of Requirements and Functional Specifications,
serve us tech writers very well in designing user
assistance material.

Tech writers like use-case diagrams because they
focus on the interaction between the user and the
software. They depict in a very concise and clear way
the "what and the why" of software functionality. Armed
with this information, the tech writer can design a task-
based user-assistance package before the first line of
code is written.

Developers like use-case diagrams because they require
very little actual "writing" on their part (and their aversion

to writing clearly and concisely was part of the reason why
the functional and technical specs of the bad old days were
fairly useless most of the time).

Another benefit (as I see it) of the new, streamlined methods
is that tech writers can generally spend less of their time in
fruitless paper-chasing tasks. That means more time discussing
or even participating in the development of the product itself
rather than mile-high stacks of specification documents that say
very little.

Michael West

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