RE: Automation

Subject: RE: Automation
From: "Steve Hudson" <cruddy -at- optushome -dot- com -dot- au>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2002 19:47:42 +1100

I smell bait :-)

Shortly, and I mean REAL shortly as the first one is already there, my
Heretical Integrated Toolset, which is bound to be a HIT with everyone, will
bring my personal experiences of the joy of automation to your desktop for
nix via the marvellousested site in the world - our very own Whirlers. The
existing Editioning dialog - the first part truly isolated forever from the
dev template (which I have tweaked again one more time with my new (prays
*final*) data structure.

That's mere small stuff. In your pond she's a whole different ball game.
Sure sure, wresting control of Word's formatting on all levels is hard
enough at the best of times. That's jack. It's the dynamics generating the
myriad of deltas that matter more.

So, you are surrounded by existing automation. Millions and trillions of
dollars worth (think about the salaries that have gone into the home grown
stuff let alone the support acts during). Plug into it.

The absolutest firstest thingy to do is to fall in love with THE change
management team. Allocate 10 mins a fortnight to wander around and feed em
chocolate. There are changes that require documenting by you and yours,
there are many that don't. They MUST know you are there to plug you in.
Ensure their release requirements require SOMEONE to sign off the
documentation requirement. DO raise process changes external to your
department (resource interfacing) with them.

Now, under the right circumstances (several I have worked at were large and
professional enough to discriminate on a component basis) you can
automatically get assigned on component changes that affect the area you
control. If you can provide me more information on the exact nature of the
support you offer and the departments you cover, I can lead in to more
detailed help you know :-) I'm just trying to be generic here. PROD OPS?
OS/Z? Team size? 24x7 etc? Gimme scope fer crying out loud.

This means you have notifications arriving, the next most important trick is
some statistical trick whose exact name eludes me at the moment (tis Friday
in Aus, I am male... beer is GOOD). The main point being you can either
generate false alerts or not. If you don't generate enough false alerts, you
are missing valid alerts. IMHO, I received nothing but valid alerts, which
always left me suspicious I was missing some, so I had to manually
investigate. Just as well I did lol. So, get the boundaries loosely enough
defined you have a reasonable level of alerts generated where you blind sign
off or pass the buck as its NOT your responsibility.

That then leads to the next point - stay within scope until yer got
everything perfect. As Andrew Plato says, it just doesn't exist. Reducing
the scope leads one to disagree, but scope is scope and you've got one of
the biggest balls (ballroom required PUH-LEASE, this is a clean
conversation) of all.

So really, right now you have work to do and its all about keeping a track
of your doco. Now we come to content management systems.

In their simplest forms, eg ISO9001 etc, one keeps a register of
documentation. IMHO, its an excel document with listings of documents and
their droll details. *snorts*

Again, as Andrew is so happy to point out anytime you like, process can be
over cumbersome. You need to free yourself to write without burden. My
register is called a dir drive:/root/*.*. If I want more details, I can easy
write a macro (= goto and search me out the pre-done I
think (???) or write from scratch, about the same time really :-)

Change history available via VSS, so no need IMHO (in the same vein as
Andrew's thrust) to track it manually. Literally, at release time, if you
want to include change history, compare your new one vs the last and send an
email to the leaders to print and show their shift. Those that need to know
will pick it up or have no recourse in any case anyway :-) They generally
pick it, first thing each team does is check out changes THOROUGHLY. They
are the problem spots for the night lol :-) Again, proper integration into
the CM system will give them your notes on this anyways as part of your sign
off <lol!>.

Automation gets smick when you press a publish button, and it goes to print
as many copies as required, addressed with a cover page to the department,
with instructions to the print ops to examine the cover page of all PREFIX*
documents, plus turns cement to goo and rips ze html out to the intranet,
und zen converts ze thing into your domino pizza for online consumption via
that 'media'.

Thats where you go full circle and come back to looking at your excel
spreadsheet again. But I need to track the destinations ! you cry. Nope, its
document based. Assign all your documents a type and an audience and you can
auto generate destinations that are 95% accurate. Keep those properties WITH
(IN) THE DOCUMENTS, not off in some vaguely linked spreadsheet.

After I finish the 'presentation control' for word, I intend on producing
the 'library control' set to help aid this. I'll speak about this more in
about 3 years :-)

Anyways, marrow it down if you want some more meat. (Now there's a tern of a

Steve Hudson, Word Heretic
Word help and tools: heretic -at- tdfa -dot- com

-----Original Message-----
From: Benjamin J.

Any automation practices out there that you are proud to call your own or
that you know exists and would like to share? Any automation story or advice
pertaining to docs during the SDLC would be appreciated.

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