Elegance in programming, interfaces and documents

Subject: Elegance in programming, interfaces and documents
From: Joaquim Baptista <px -at- EASYSOFT -dot- PT>
Date: Thu, 23 Apr 1998 17:04:10 +0100

Greetings to all,

In programming, we usually find one of two situations:
1) The program achieves its functionality by combining a small set
of generic functions. Also, each function is simple and mostly
independent of the others.
2) The program is ridden with multiple pieces of similar but not
identical functionality. It is hard to pinpoint where does the
program do something.

Case (1) is an elegant program, and a joy to the eye.
Case (2) is best avoided.

I find a similar difference when I compare MS-Word with ClarisWorks.
- In MS-Word, each major function has its own interface element
to do something.
- In ClarisWorks, the same generic interface element will work wherever
it makes sense.

For me, elegant documents explain each concept once, combine the
explanations in a meaningful whole, and have simple thought structures at
all levels. It is usually simple to navigate within these documents.

The worst technical documents that I know are the IBM software manuals.
They can repeat the same stupid warning on every page, yet force you to
sift through hundreds of similar but not identical pages looking for basic
information hidden within procedures.

Back to work now...

Joaquim Baptista, alias pxQuim Precisa de uma contabilista?
- px -at- easysoft -dot- pt (01) 8684294
- http://www.fct.unl.pt/~px/

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