Hardware versus Software

Subject: Hardware versus Software
From: "USA::MU17692" <MU17692%USA -dot- decnet -at- USAV01 -dot- GLAXO -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 12 Nov 1994 12:07:00 EST

I agree with Rick Lippincott (rlippinc -at- bev -dot- etn -dot- com). Hardware is typically
more difficult to document than software.

One aspect Rick overlooked is that creating illustrations for hardware is
usually much more expensive than it is for software. For software, I capture
screens and use simple line drawings, such as flow charts. For hardware, I
often need the services of an illustrator. The illustrator goes with me to the
site of the hardware where he takes pictures and makes sketches. Smart
illustrators, who can afford it, use digital cameras. (I use a video camera to
capture the operation of the machine.) We also interview the people who use
the machine(s). Traveling to the site often costs a lot of money--air fare,
auto rental, and hotel expense--so we try to ensure that a second visit is
not necessary.

Intellectually, it is not more difficult to document hardware than software.
But as Rick pointed, the logistics of information gathering make the process
more expensive and time-consuming for documenting hardware.

-Mike Uhl (uhl~m -at- glaxo -dot- com)
Glaxo Inc. Research Institute
Research Triangle Park, NC

"Francis Bacon told us that 'Knowledge...is power.' This can now
be translated into contemporary terms. In our social setting,
'Knowledge is change'--and accelerating knowledge-acquisition, fueling
the great engine of technology, means accelerating change."
-Alvin Toffler, _Future Shock_ (1970)

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