Re: Getting the programmers to come to you

Subject: Re: Getting the programmers to come to you
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 15:20:18 -0800

Gillian McGarvey wrote:

>Is anyone else on the list bewildered by the fact that...
>we actually BRIBE programmers to ...
>give us the info we need to document the software?
>Isn't it the job of management...? Aren't we just re-enforcing programmers'
>lackadaisical attitude when it comes to working WITH tech writers by
>coddling them with snacks?
>
Look at it this way, Gillian...

You, the techwriter, work with a bunch of programmers. You respect
them for their technical skills. You may even be slightly in awe
of their technical skills. But you don't let them know, because
then you'd seem vulnerable and you don't want that to happen. But,
as luck would have it, you have to create a "do while loop" to be
included in the current release of the software.

You put the task off until the very last minute because your
programming skills aren't the best in the world and you know the
head programmer will just rip your little loop to shreds. Oh,
he'll be nice about it. But it just won't be your work anymore
when he's done.

Maybe you've coded such loops before and when you were done the
programmers all laughed at you. Maybe you had a loop teacher in
high school who ridiculed your loops for their meandering ways.
Maybe you always leave out the part that makes the loop stop.
For whatever reason, you're pretty darn nervous about coding
this loop. You'd do anything to get out of it.

Then along comes a programmer who invites you to his office,
provides you with a big piece of calorie-free chocolate cake and
a big basket of strawberries. He sits down at the computer and
asks you questions about the loop you have to create, and while
you munch your cake and answer questions, a perfect "do while
loop" comes alive on the screen! Boy! That was practically
painless! Whew!

Not only do you feel a little better about creating loops, you
really want to work with this programmer again because he knows
how to help you create the loop without your feeling intimidated
and uptight!

Well, that scenario isn't as far-fetched as it seems. Just turn
the tables around and you'll have it. Lots of our techie friends
are intimidated by our language skills. Coding the perfect loop
is easy compared to writing software documentation, and there's
an overbearing and intimidating high school English teacher in
the back of their minds who's berating their writing skills with
every keystroke.

It may be management's job to instill the importance of documentation
in their minds, but it's our job to make sure they're comfortable
doing it. And if a few cookies will do the trick, they're well worth
the investment.


Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com
-- The _Guide_ is definitive.
Reality is frequently inaccurate.

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