<CharlieDigital/> Programming, Politics, and uhh…pineapples

18Apr/06Off

Still Not There Yet…

I don't understand the fascination with using Word documents for internal development specs.

For one thing, a Word document is very inefficient when it comes to conveying matters of code and design.  No syntax highlighting.  It constantly warns me that I'm misspelling my words.  It wants to adjust my indentation and paragraphs for me when I put formatted code into a document.

Even more annoying is the fact that a Word document is essentially a snapshot of what was designed, at some point in time.  Past tense.  Unfortunately, designs change and details change as developers start to dig into the software at all levels; no one person can forsee all of the challenges in designing any medium-large software product; no one person can predict all of the different, possibly better implementations and architecture.  New changes mean I get a new document in my inbox.

Using Word documents, it becomes incredibly tedious to now maintain this constant state of change.  Everyone on the team has a copy.  Yet, in order to maintain any sense of order, only one person can be the source of all of the change.  Useless.  Inefficient.  Terrible.

There's a reason why typewriters were replaced by word processors.

Enter Trac.  It does everything right that Word does wrong for documenting software specifications.  The Wiki system links text to existing tickets, source code files, and other documents without effort.  It's infinitely malleable and entirely flexible; in a sense, it's "live".  It highlights code and allows full flexibility in formatting the code.  It offers a view into your source repository.  It has a system for creating milestones and linking tickets to those milestones.  You work on documenting your part in your Wiki page, I'll document mine in my Wiki page.  All the ideas, concepts, and thoughts now sit in a central repository that is constantly evolving as the project evolves.

In short, Trac is damn near the perfect software project management application and its usefulness spans the entire lifecycle of the project, from initial design to maintenance to continuing development.

Unfortunately, I'm the only one on my team using it :-S I don't get it.  What's the fascination with Word when an infinitely better solution is available?  I set it up and demonstrated it with the hopes that these tech-heads here would dig it and see the awesome potential it has for transforming how the development process proceeds.  And yet, here I sit, baffled by why such a tool is laid to the by-ways for Word.

I guess I'm still not there yet...

Posted by Charles Chen

Filed under: Rants Comments Off
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