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In today's world, is there any place for manuscript documentation?

Can manuscript be used nowadays? Some people still favor paper over digital media, then how to document such things? If developer develops some code then up to which extents documentation should be done? How to store it? In some cases even self explanatory code is hard to understand, then how to properly document it?

Considering attrition in organization, how to keep code and documentation self explanatory so that new programmer easily get it? References to some case studies is welcome. Please give practical examples instead of principles.

  • Hi. I'm not really sure what the problem is that you're facing. Can you please edit your question with more specifics? It also seems like part of your question should be asked on programmers se. – jmort253 Feb 28 '12 at 7:30
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As "information radiators" handwritten artifacts are way more powerful than standard computer generated ones. Because they are linked with a person, reflect a creation effort and are more human. Even more, the mind easily capture a draw sketch rather than perfectly shape forms.

Of course, for storage and distribution of that kind of drawings a digitized solution is used. My Agile team use often the whiteboard and markers. When a drawing iteration is complete, we take a snapshot with the iPhone. I also use whiteboard capture pro sometimes to make real whiteboard drawing more like a sketch. This way we can also have "versions" of a software architecture sketch. This pictures are posted on wikis or distributed on email.

My Kanban board contains only handwritten post-its. When a client needs a project update or some estimations I just take snapshot of the board and send it by email. Never receive a complain about the form of the information.

So it's a handwritten-to-digital solution. We use it because of human flavor and because of speed. No matter how good you are in PowerPoint or whatever, it's faster to draw some boxes and arrows with a marker. It doesn't matter that they are not perfect, don't care. The most important is the content, not the form.

Of course, there are some limits. Not everything worth to be handwritten but Agile PM may rely on some handwritten artifacts.

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I think to answer your question all you need to do is examine how work has changed over the past, say, 200 years. No one hires scribes anymore. No one hires a typing pool anymore. If you know someone who favors paper and manuscripts, I would be more than interested to hear the cost-benefit argument on that.

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