RE: Anyone Hide Easter Eggs in Docs?

Subject: RE: Anyone Hide Easter Eggs in Docs?
From: "Glenn Maxey" <glenn -dot- maxey -at- voyanttech -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2002 10:10:02 -0700


This sort of applies as an Easter Egg.

I used to work for an Austrian company who claimed in their
mission/vision statement to be "customer oriented" with "cost-effective"
and "innovative solutions" among other things. I was taking training one
day when a customer from Switzerland made some requests of the
documentation.

There are three main languages in Switzerland: German, French, and
Italian. The customer said that whenever he ordered a product, he always
ordered the documentation in as many languages as they understood (which
adds English to the list). The quality and accuracy of translations was
a problem.

What he wanted was a way to access different language versions of our
documentation. (We were translating into 7 languages). That way if he
came across a poor translation, he could cross-reference it in another
language like the source language. (He didn't need a direct hyperlink to
the topic in the other language; he just needed the ability to access
the online help in other languages.)

I proposed a solution to my manager and co-workers that only required
effort from me (about 8 hrs) and the engineer who did the installation.
I requested a dialog box in the installation that would allow the user
to select the languages for additional documentation. Not a big deal and
still way early in the development cycle.

On the documentation side, it didn't take me that long to come up with,
implement, and test a solution that started a second instance of the
help system in the specified language (if installed). I even had
instructions on how they could get the documentation to track
topic-for-topic between two languages (it's built into WinHelp). It was
pretty slick.

It was a silly political battle where the programmer doing the
installation said "I can't imagine anybody using this." (He spent more
time in meetings and e-mail than would have been required to implement
what I requested.) I responded that the request came directly from a
customer, and our US sales organization who sells to South America was
impressed with this feature (because it could help overcome problems
with a poor Spanish translation.)

If the minor impact to two people wasn't "cost-effective" enough in this
"innovative solution" that was "customer oriented," my plan B was to
by-pass code changes to the installation and simply document how to
install our software multiple times to get the requisite language files.
Then, my help system could easily cross-reference between them. This was
implemented and working.

More politics ensued. While I was on vacation, someone decided that what
was already implemented shouldn't be there. My co-worker tried to back
it out and broke the help system. When I got back from vacation, I fixed
what my co-worker broke. I backed out the implementation as requested
and submitted my resignation. Before my last day, I re-included the RTF
file in the project files (but did not re-insert CNT references).

My Easter Egg was index entries that could get you to the "hidden"
topics that explained how to cross-reference material between different
language versions of our online documentation.

Not as interesting as some of the other Eggs, but just as subversive.

Glenn Maxey
Technical Writer
Voyant Technologies, Inc.
1765 West 121st Avenue
Westminster, CO 80234-2301
Tel. +1 303.223.5164
Fax. +1 303.223.5275
glenn -dot- maxey -at- voyanttech -dot- com



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