Re: I'm a coder and you aren't, Nyah!

Subject: Re: I'm a coder and you aren't, Nyah!
From: Matt Craver <MCraver -at- OPENSOLUTIONS -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 12 Nov 1998 12:01:55 -0500

Walker, Arlen P [Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM] wrote:

> good coding requires fluency
> in a second language, and quite often it requires thinking in
> convoluted ways to produce good, tight, high-performance code.

Unfortunately, we see less and less good, tight, high-performance code. To
a certain extent, I can't blame a programmer who gets a little lax. After
all, the development cycles are shorter, management priorities are
marketing-driven (i.e., we need feature x, I don't care how you do it), and
the performance of the average PC keeps getting better. If you were
programming for a TRS-80, you didn't have any resources to work with. If
you are programming on a 400MHz Pentium II, you have a lot more to play

But to bring this back to the original discussion, the technical writer
often has to be able to think in that same "bizarre" way, and in the way the
user does. I don't know how common this is in the rest of the profession,
but I am frequently reading the code and using that as source for my
documents. I think this actually helps me maintain a relationship with the
programmers. When I have a question, I am talking to them from a level
similar to their own: "I was looking at X and saw that you did such-and
such. Why did you do it that way?"

Having said all that, I am still approaching the code from a different
perspective, as source. IOW, I think of the code as a reasonably static
entity within which I can search for information. They think of the code as
being the expressed answer to a problem or challenge. For them it is
constantly in flux, and they keep revisiting the same question and answer.

I guess what I'm saying with all this verbiage is, "Know your audience"
applies to SME's, too. Address them on their level for optimum results.
-Matthew Craver,
Technical Documentation
Open Solutions Inc.
Mcraver -at- opensolutions -dot- com

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