RE: Terminology Question

Subject: RE: Terminology Question
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <SGallagher -at- akonix -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2001 11:21:08 -0800

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Richard de Vecchis [mailto:RDevecchis -at- lawmanager -dot- com]

> Programmers often use the word "inherit" as in:
> Programmers can create relationships between one object and
> another. For
> example, objects can inherit characteristics from other objects.
> Is there a more suitable term to use in end user documentation when
> describing software applications?

I am not entirely comfortable that I understand why you would want
to expose a class hierarchy to an end user, but I'll refrain from
going there for now. Also, I am assuming that by "end user" you
are referring to a non-technical audience rather than one of
developers. For an audience of developers, inheritance is the
correct and most easily understood terminology.

How you talk about the relationship between software objects to
a naive audience depends a whole lot on how much the audience
really needs to know. If they just need to understand that a
relationship exists, I would explain that the items maintain
hierarchical relationships and let it go at that.

If, however, you feel it is necessary for your audience to really
grok how inheritance works and why one object ends up with the same
stuff another object has and more, I would probably wax metaphorical
and draw comparisons to geneology. Geneology has become such a
popular hobby that there are few people who lack an understanding
of it and the parallels between it and object-oriented software can
be developed easily.

-Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- akonix -dot- com

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