Should software documenters learn to read code?

Subject: Should software documenters learn to read code?
From: "Downing, David" <DavidDowning -at- users -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2009 09:03:33 -0600

Should technical writers who do software documentation -- which is most
of us -- learn to read the actual code of the software they're
documentation? Of course, on general principles, the more you know the
better. And if you learned the programming language on your own time,
the question of whether you should be spending your on-the-clock time
doing so wouldn't be an issue.

But there is a danger. One reason programmers tend to make bad
documenters is that they think in terms of the mechanics of the program,
rather than in terms of the tasks the end user needs to perform. I
technical writer who starts reading code might start thinking this way
as well.

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