Re: Getting the programmers to come to you

Subject: Re: Getting the programmers to come to you
From: Ginna Watts <gwatts -at- PIM -dot- BC -dot- CA>
Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 17:23:18 -0800

At 03:20 PM 3/12/97 -0800, you wrote:

>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.

In that vein, cosying up to them a little bring some understanding on more
levels. I have a programmer (a coop student in Comp Eng with A LOT of
responsibility), who sent me the most abbreviated documentation I could ever
dream possible. His docs would literally be: "page 47, 2nd para - change
word xx to words yy, zz, and tt). There would be no explanation, and I'd
then have to chase him down to find out 'why?' and 'what else does this
back-end change affect?' etc.

In conversation one day, he told me about a course (required) that he took
in Technical Documenation. It turns out that the Prof. had taught them to
be as brief as humanly possible when they document things. In practice, he
actually thought it would help me if 'I didn't have to wade through his bad
grammar'. I gently told him that I thought we could work out a happy
medium, and things have been MUCH better since. Now I make big efforts to
'make friends' with all the SMEs.

Ginna Watts - Technical Writer
Pacific International Mapping Corp.
gwatts -at- pim -dot- bc -dot- ca

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