Re: Whither book "Developing Windows Error Messages"

Subject: Re: Whither book "Developing Windows Error Messages"
From: Lani Hardage <Lani -at- MDLI -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 1998 13:55:40 -0800

I wouldn't do away with all error messages. Many of them save you from
yourself, as in, "Do you really want to blow away all the work you just did,
or did you mean to hit the other button?"

There are also useful error messages, such as, "The foo-bar cannot be
retrieved, because none have been created." How else could you convey this
information? I presume this book would teach you to offer a fix, such as,
"Would you like to create a foo-bar?"

Programmers tend to write these error messages because the messages are
often embedded in source code, and they don't want non-programmer types
mucking with the source code. Also, they don't want to have to teach us the
code you need to wrap error messages in. Finally, some error messages are
tied in withthe error-handling code, so it isn't worker-efficient to break
it out into two people's tasks.

There are probably even more reasons to use error messages - these are just
off the top of my head.

Lani Hardage
Senior Technical Writer
MDL Information Systems, Inc.
San Leandro, CA 94577

Chuck Martin wrote:

> I have several issues with this, without even reading the book--and I'm
> not sure I even want to now.
>
> First, it's [sic] claimed target audience is programmers. Why, oh why, do
> the
> authors and publishers want to perpetuate the myth that programmers
> should be the ones to write error messages? While it would be nice for
> programmers to learn to communicate effectively with a non-technical
> audience, isn't that what we, as technical communicators, are trained to
> do?
>
> Second (and this is a more root issue), I'm a firm believer that error
> messages are bad. Bad, bad, bad. ...

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