To Wiki or not to wiki

by krishnamoorthyb

Software development is very different from classroom projects. Everyone knows that! But, what is surprising is that a lot of software development is exploratory and if you are used to MSDN style documentation to help you with your software development, it aint’ going to happen! In my current project all (ALL) knowledge is stashed away by hurriedly written wiki pages. I personally like the concept of wiki pages. What I dont like is the freeform that this style of communication promotes without the need for any kind of structure to the documents. What typically happens is this- A software developer works on a feature for weeks and at the end of countless hours of medidation on the issue he decides to leave his footprint on a wiki page. The poor guy(or gal) is so tired by the end, that all he can manage for a clear footprint is a smudgy shuffle on the sand. If someone where to ask you how to walk, can you document the feature? you sould say, it is so SIMPLE!

The same is the case with software developers writing wiki pages. They have worked on the feature for soooo loooong that everything is so clear and simple. It is difficult for them to see it from an objective point of view and imagine a dumb new guy (like me) trying to understand the feature. The result is a cryptic and half useful document that cannot be understood without the author standing beside me and holding my hand.. Maybe software developers should write wiki pages only after one month after they have completed a feature. The gap in time will hopefully make them more like the rest of the world! Better still, wiki pages must be auto generated from code comments!!!!! (aka Java docs)