RE: Fighting a losing battle?

Subject: RE: Fighting a losing battle?
From: "Jane Carnall" <jane -dot- carnall -at- digitalbridges -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2001 16:37:36 +0100

Hanlie Pretorius has been <<... documenting a Java system in development. I
started very enthusiastically, suggesting improvements to screen layouts,
pointing out (to the business analyst) inconsistencies in screen designs,
spelling errors (!) and so forth just to have my ideas squashed by the "we
don't have enough developers to spend on trivial things like that" excuse.>>

Geoff Hart wrote:
>If time's the
>problem, sometimes you can offer to do the fixing for them; it's often easy
>to explain to your manager that it's faster for you to fix an interface
>problem than it is to spend hours writing around the problem.

Often, too, it's far more diplomatic to assume that they understand that a
poor interface is a problem, but that they don't have time to fix it. Also,
*their* job does not stand or fall by typos and inconsistencies, but *yours*
does, because referencing their illiteracies will make *you* look
illiterate. In short, get access to the interface, and fix these problems
yourself. It's usually not a big technical problem to do so.

Years ago when I was documenting a big project, I did eventually convince
the development teams that their life as well as mine would be simpler if
they just gave the documentation team control over the field labels. (They'd
already said these were a trivial, unimportant problem.) Result: a soothing
consistency and lack of typos, plus much cheer for the documentation team as
we shared the most beautiful field labels (I especially liked the unknown
developer who invariably shortened "Analysis" to "Anal", so that Customer
Analysis invariably became CustAnal) before fixing them.

Make yourself part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Jane Carnall
Technical Writer, Digital Bridges, Scotland
Unless stated otherwise, these opinions are mine, and mine alone.


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Fighting a losing battle?: From: Hart, Geoff

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