Re: ISO 26514 draft ready for comment [long]

Subject: Re: ISO 26514 draft ready for comment [long]
From: "Simon North" <sintac -at- home -dot- nl>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2006 00:35:57 +0200

All I could think of when I read it was, oh, God, here we go again.

Many, many years ago I got on my soapbox and fought a Don Quixote camapaign to
talk some sense into a standardisation committee. The draft we were working on -
which was cobbled together from a whole slew of international standard, included
some really ridiculous requirements such as one gem that would have required you to
use a reflectometer to test the comparative brightness of the text on the page.
Fortunately, sense prevailed and we ended up with a pretty good standard, NEN 5509
"user documentation for products of consumer interest" which, more than 15 years
later is still as usable as it was when it was fresh. The essence was to focus on the
'what' rather than the 'how' and insist that a standard should reflect only the barest
minimum that would be considered acceptable and NOT stand in the way of

There is so much wrong with this draft that I hardly know where to start ... I ground to
a halt at paragraph 3 of the introduction (though I did masochistically force myself to
plough through the rest of it). I've been intimately involved in software development
since 1976. The days when software documentation was considered an afterthought
went out of fashion at about the time I switched from writing in Fortran to C. Sad, sad,
sad, such an obvious paper-basedd orientation; barely a mention of real embedded
help (pop-ups indeed) or wizards, not a single mention of user assistance ... so sad,
so old; not even published and already out of date. The whole standard reads like
some piece of flotsam out of a time capsule. I don't know whether to sigh or groan

Simon North.

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Re: ISO 26514 draft ready for comment [long]: From: Gene Kim-Eng

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