A former manager poses a provocative idea: end-user help topics for all new applications and features–like the sweet new Source Control Explorer window in Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team System–should be written before development begins; Help First or Documentation-Driven Development (DDD).
DDD is really no different from Test-Driven Development, about which Rob Caron recently wrote, “According to Jonathan Cogley, Test-Driven Development (TDD) is gaining in popularity. James Newkirk, Peter Provost and Brian Button are working on a new TDD example named Bookmark Collection.” In fact, I believe that DDD is perfectly congruent with the precepts of TDD.
- drastically lower documentation and localization costs.
- the ability to simul-ship EN-glish and all other language versions of Visual Studio
- nominally lower test costs (many test cases would be pre-written by writers)
- greater cross-product consistency
- greater developmental productivity…no, really.
- pedantic, predictable documentation that explains how to do things but not why you should do them one way or another.
- writers would have to be more technical and experienced.
- writers would be less productive since they would be involved in more design discussions, at least in theory.
- lower quality specs: PMs would probably shift responsibility to documentation teams.