Object-Oriented Development and Documentation

Subject: Object-Oriented Development and Documentation
From: Matthew Danda <dandam -at- 1STNET -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 1 Jul 1996 17:44:11 -0500

Hello Techwhirlers:

After becoming totally immersed in object-oriented (O-O) development over
the past 8 weeks, I am curious to hear from other writers who have been in
similar situations.

My scenario is:
I have been a "test-case" writer on a software development team that is
currently defining the technical specifications for a purely object-oriented
application. I say "test-case" because I have been included in all O-O
training and development meetings along with the programming and Q/A team
members. It has been 8 weeks since the project began, and management is
beginning to evaluate the value of my presence, the technical writer, on the

All in all, I believe that my contribution has been successful, and I have
reached the following conclusion regarding the role of the technical writer
and O-O technical documentation:

In order to assist in the documentation of O-O technical specifications, the
technical writer must have a much more in-depth understanding of the product
and development methodologies used. This knowledge becomes sufficient enough
so that his/her role in the project becomes less of a reactive tech writer
and more of that of an object-oriented developer. In essence, to
successfully document the project, the technical communicator inadvertantly
becomes a capable O-O analyst who assumes responsibility for much of the
grunt work; maintaining and editing the massive amounts of technical
documentation produced. While I feel that the tasks required often stray
from those of technical writing and move into areas of systems analysis and
design, the presence of the writer/developer provides the team with a more
literate and document-centric influence.
I would not recommend this responsibility to a generic technical writer,
since it requires a great deal of systems analysis and design and
comparitively little writing. Although the writer does not need to become a
programmer to participate in O-O design, a strong understanding of the
methodology is needed to facilitate the production of the extensive
documentation generated. The writer must have a strong interest and desire
to learn, study, and participate in the development of the models.

Has anyone out there had similar experiences? Do you agree or disagree with
my conclusions?

Matthew Danda
Technical Writer
St. Louis, MO
dandam -at- 1stnet -dot- net

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