Re: Parallels Between Software Development and Writing Processes

Subject: Re: Parallels Between Software Development and Writing Processes
From: Richard Lippincott <rlippinc -at- BEV -dot- ETN -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 13 Jan 1995 08:38:09 EST

George Hayhoe asked if anyone has noticed the tendency for software developers
to write code without knowing what the users need. This is true at our
company, as well.

At my company, the software is the operating system for the machines that we
sell. We have a team of software developers that create the user interface
screens, literally the controlls for the ion implanters.

We also have a process engineering team. These folks are the experts in the
best and most efficient way to run the implanters, and get the best product out.

These two teams never speak to each other, even though they're located only
a few dozen feet apart in the same building. Communication is so bad that
the process engineers didn't know about the next major software revision until
I told them why I was updating the operating guide. They still come to me, not
the software people, when they want to know the latest software ship date.

The result is that the process engineers are attempting to get the best
methods and practices into the manual, but are working within limitations
imposed by the GUI. It's kinda like having an automobile with a mismatch
between the engine and transmission, but putting an instruction in the driver's
manual that says "for best results, stay in second gear at all times."

This supports the theory that it must be human nature. We'd be a lot better
off if our software people talked to the process engineers, and if the process
engieers were active about communicating their needs to the software folks.
But everyone seems focused on their own immediate task, and the thought of
working as a team effort just isn't sinking in.

Rick Lippincott
Eaton Semiconductor
Beverly, MA
rlippinc -at- bev -dot- etn -dot- com


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