Re: Object-oriented specs to Human-oriented docs

Subject: Re: Object-oriented specs to Human-oriented docs
From: Ruth Glaser <ruthg -at- GORETEK -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 1997 09:01:00 -0500

On the topic of bringing human orientation to the OO process:

I am currently working on our development team with programmers,
qa analysts, and system architects to integrate Object Oriented
Analysis and Design (OOA/D) with User Centered Design (UCD).

Tech writers take note: HERE IS YOUR CHANCE TO INFLUENCE
PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT AND DESIGN.

We writers have extensive knowledge of audience analysis that
other traditional members of development teams do not. We can use
this to influence the requirements model and analysis model in the
OOA/D process. (Per Rumbaugh, Jacobson, Rational, etc.)

For example, think of the methods you currently use for User Task
Analysis when you write docs. You may interview users, observe
them in the work setting (Contextual Inquiry), talk about how users
need to use the system, etc. We are using these approaches to
help us write our actual use cases*.

From these user-based use cases, we develop our object model.
This gives us tracability. For example, I encounter object xxx, with
methods yyy and zzz. As I write documentation, I look for what the
user needs to know to accomplish his/her job. If I can't figure that
out from looking at object xxx, method yyy or method zzz, I look back
to other artifacts like event trace diagrams, etc. I may go back
to the original use case from which this object/method was derived.
The use case reveals the human-oriented objective and from there
I can begin to document object xxx.

Another aspect of integrating UCD with OOA/D is that it reveals
the terminology in which users speak about their systems. This
gives you metaphors which can be used to develop user interfaces
and more human-oriented documentation. You can then, again,
use your experience in communication to do rapid prototyping to
test your interfaces and your docs. (Again, this is where we as
writers have "a leg up" on the rest of the development staff.)

Jared Spool (a sometime contributor to this list) is an excellent
resource for how to get information from users. His tools include
Contextual Inquiry, Rapid Prototyping, User Myth Reconciliation,
and more. His company is User Interface Engineering
http://www.uie.com

The following book is an excellent resource for integrating OOA/D
and UCD. "Object-Oriented GUI Application Development" by
Geoff Lee, ISBN 0-13-363086-2, Prentice Hall.

Also, John Bowie will be presenting "The 90-Minute Information
Engineer: A 90-minute crash course in using information to
drive product design" at the STC Annual Conference in Toronto.

These have all been great resources for our methodology
development.

*To Ernie, do you have use cases you can refer to for more
information? If not, where is the original information on which
the developers based their diagrammatic OO models? Can you
go back to that source? It seems that that would offer a more
user or human perspective on the system. If this information
does not exist, I would question the developers: How are they
going to test the system to see if it meets user requirements?
Let their answer lead you to the info.

Ruth
ruthg -at- goretek -dot- com

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