11 December 2009

Concise writing

I was involved in the software archtiecture course this year, more than the last few years, not surprising since I developed the coruse in 2006. One of the things I did was to evaluate the hand-ins of several assignments, which was disappointing in more ways than one. But the thing I want to bring up in the blog is the lack of concise writing.
I think that one of the most important abilities for an architect (even more so than for other developer roles) is to present the "fundamental ideas" in clear, concise and short manner.

In the hand-ins, a lot of answers covered two pages when a paragraph with less than ten lines would have been sufficient. With a good picture maybe even less.
I don't know if this is beacuse the students were not comfortable with terminology (if you use a model-view-controller pattern, how much more do you need to say about it?). Or if they think verbosity is the same thing as showing understanding? Or if they did not have the time to strip away the "fluff"...
Next year I will propose a maximum number of pages in the hand-ins and deduct points if they write more than that. Obviously they still need to fulfill the task...

It is an art and craft, to write as short as possible, but it helps getting the message across! An architect should hone this skill.


archie said...

I too think it is more important to stress a maximum number of words rather than a minimum. That got me thinking, Twitter-style architectures? Is it possible?

Ulrik said...

Twitter-style architectures? Why not? Could be worth exploring.

Would this be suited to some agile methods?
I think the 140 character limit would enforce the architects to be relly clear and concise in their message.
Would this also support interaction with other stakeholders since they could respond to the tweets?