One of my mates was asked if he likes documentation in a recent interview.
“No, I hate it” was his reply, or ‘I rushed so fast to get the no out that it almost came out as on’.
Hmmm, career limiting I thought.
Hmmm Hmmm, it only limits you in careers doing the type of job you don’t want though. Hmmm…
Me, I love relevant and useful documentation. Well, I think I would if I ever saw any.
Dick over on DDOE had a relevant interesting post recently. I was going to comment there, but after deleting two out of control rants I gave up. This point is very relevant having just binned my last role.
I look forward to hearing from the people who took over from me (if we are still friends ;-) ) what they think of my legacy. But I assume it will be like any builder who comes to your house. They always criticise the work of those that went before. That’s not to say I could have done a better handover. Or done some other stuff better either. (We found an error in some of my test SQL on my last day – it’s not my first or last error I’m sure).
My big point on this though is that Excel is best for tactical short term systems. And the dev process should match that short term, medium risk, medium value return. Heavyweight development processes with a documentation focus are inappropriate imo. Yes many of these things become business critical over time, at which time they should be reviewed/migrated with that new status in mind.
Anyone looking for a tactical Excel developer who loves documentation has got the wrong end of the stick I reckon.
Smurfs guide to good Excel system doco:
- one paragraph description of what the system does from a business pov
- a couple of pages of design overview about the big technology lumps that address those business needs
- One sentence description of each worksheet, easy to find in each sheet
- explanation of any complex formulas or queries
- Meaningful variable and procedure names in code, table, query and field names in databases
Developers can work the rest out if and when they need to.
Too much documentation is written for managers who don’t understand the business problem being addressed or the technology used to address it.
Sorry but its not realistic to fix those two fatal flaws in one word document no matter how long and involved it is. If as a manager you feel the need to understand all that stuff then learn it yourself don’t burden your devs with your education. And whilst you are at it review how you see your role as a manger – perhaps you could just trust the experts in each area and actually ‘manage’?
Generally I think devs hate documentation because so much of it is pointless. At my last job my manager kept asking me for more documentation, I kept asking if they had read the stuff I had already done? No, was always the answer. Read it and tell me what you think is missing I would say in a groundhog day style weekly cycle.
how much do you like documenting your systems? recieving documentation on projects you take over? whats your definition of useful doco?