Documenting OO Applications

Subject: Documenting OO Applications
From: Matthew Danda <dandam -at- 1STNET -dot- NET>
Date: Fri, 19 Jul 1996 12:21:05 -0700

Oh man, what have you gotten yourself into? (chuckle, chuckle, <evil
I am currently engrossed in a documentation project for an
object-oriented application, and so far the whole development environment
and situation has been a lot different than in past projects. This is
mostly because the OO process involves an iterative life-cycle, different
that traditional "waterfall" development (which, by the way, is easier to
document) and, in addition, almost everyone on the project is new to O-O,
so there is a lot of I-dunno's coming from the mouths of all members of
the team.
I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in the design stages,
and learn the design tools used, and can therefore easily jump into the
technical/design specifications and get excellent information regarding
the activities of the product and how it will work. This extensive design
documentation, an essential ingredient in [good] O-O projects, has
provided me with enough info to create elaborate prototypes of User and
Help documentation, even though the GUI has not been developed yet.

However, because the design documentation is so specific and
well-planned, much of the challenge and fun of figuring out an
application and then designing a new manual has been removed. In fact, my
opinion so far of object-oriented projects is, well, a lot less
interesting than the "old way" of traditional, linear software

(I am getting unfamiliar flashes of luddite ideology: since design doc's
are so specific, how long will it take for someone to write a program
that reads O-O models and automatically generates user documentation?
Using a documentation department's rigid templates and documentation
standards, how hard would that be?)

I would highly recommend getting a copy of an article published in the
Fourth Quarter 1994 Technical Communications (the big STC mag) called,
"Preparing to Document an Object-oriented Project." It is very

Good luck!

- Matthew D. Danda
- Technical Writer Addicted to Software Development
- St. Louis, Missouri
- dandam -at- 1stnet -dot- net

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