Re: Terminology and you

Subject: Re: Terminology and you
From: "Chuck Murray, ZK2-3/K35, DTN 381-2648 23-May-1993 1923" <cmurray -at- 4GL -dot- ENET -dot- DEC -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 23 May 1993 16:35:28 PDT

Along the lines of Ken d'Albenas' anecdote of "tolerance value" becoming
"threshold value," here's my tale of how "import object" became
"external object."

In the last release of the software product that I document
(DEC RALLY -- a 4GL, or fourth-generation language), a major new
feature was the ability to use objects in an external application file
(i.e., a RALLY application file other than the current one). The engineer
who implemented the feature initially called it "import objects" -- with
"import" as an adjective (pronounced with the accent on the first syllable),
to reflect the idea that the object was being virtually imported into
the current application.

At first I was the only one who had any problem with the term
"import object(s)." I went to the engineer, who is a very
reasonable and likable guy, and told him my concerns:

1. "Import objects" is easily misread as an imperative sentence: i.e.,
"import" as the verb (accent on the second syllable). As such,
it makes no sense or seems nonsense. (Almost seems like a slogan:
"Ban the bomb!" "Buy American!" "Import objects!")

2. The term "import objects" sounds too much like "techie slang"
or needless jargon.

3. The meaning of "import" would conflict with the common usual
meaning of the term in software applications, and thus could
confuse users. That is, the object in the external application
is not literally copied into the current application; rather,
the current application is merely able to refer to the object.

My suggestion was "external objects" instead of "import objects."
After a short discussion with the engineer/implementer and other
RALLY engineers, everyone agreed on "external objects," and that's
now the official name of the feature.

Moral of the story: We technical writers, in our role as user
advocate, can help keep the focus on the customer and can
have a significant impact on the total product development. (It
also helps to be working on an exciting product with talented
engineers who value good manuals and help displays -- as I am
fortunate to be!)

- Chuck Murray
Technical writer, Digital Equipment Corp.
cmurray -at- 4gl -dot- enet -dot- dec -dot- com or cmurray -at- decral -dot- enet -dot- dec -dot- com

Previous by Author: Re: Red-lining software
Next by Author: First Come...
Previous by Thread: Re: Terminology and you
Next by Thread: Mega-meanings: Terminology and you

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads