Re: The user guide prescribes the program

Subject: Re: The user guide prescribes the program
From: Chris Boehm <Chris -dot- Boehm -at- INEACORP -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 6 Jan 1997 15:52:38 -0500

I think it's a fantastic idea. It sounds a lot like speccing out a
project thoroughly before beginning. It probably does save a lot of
time, confusion, keeps some standards in place, and employs more
writers:-).

It also probably helps because developers tend to get caught up in the
'how are we going to do this?' instead of 'what are we really doing and
how will the users react?', which is really more important since the
technology to do things changes so fast.

If you look through back issues of the STC journals, you'll find
references to user testing, both for software and for documentation,
before releasing to the customer. I think this is the first time I've
heard of it taken so far, tho.

I think it would help a lot of companies, mine included. Do you know if
they have published their process?
Chris

>----------
>From: joe rapp[SMTP:joe-rapp -at- JUNO -dot- COM]
>Sent: Monday, January 06, 1997 3:03 PM
>To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
>Subject: The user guide prescribes the program
>
>Can someone provide a reference that supports the following
>view?
>
>An experienced engineer/manager at NYNEX told me that
>he believes that "The documentation IS the program." This
>means that, for example, on a $60 million software project, they
>FIRST wrote the user guide and designed the screens. Then
>the users tested the guide for usefulness, clarity, etc. This
>first phase took a year and a half. AFTER this was done, the
>programmers were told to write the code -- which they did in
>two weeks.
>
>This engineer told me it is standard thinking that the
>computer program IS the user guide, while the code is just
> the code. If the program "doesn't work" properly, then
>changes are made to the code -- not vice versa.
>
>Since this view of documentation makes the tech writer's job
>more central, more important, and more valuable, I would like
>to see where this view is supported in the literature of
>computer program development and/or user guide
>development.
>
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