I think one of the most important things with creating new computer systems is the names for things. The thing that prompted me to write this is that I've just opened a directory called "datafiles". That name was decided long ago, before I came along. I'm not quite happy with it because it's too general. Most of the files in the whole directory tree are datafiles, not just those in this directory. The trouble is that to change the name I would have to change a whole lot of things - not just programs and macros, but procedures as well. And people would struggle for months and years to come to remember where what they wanted had moved to. Several years ago Blackbaud did a major change to Raiser's Edge moving the interface to a more Windows 95 style away from a Windows 3.1 style of interface. One of the things they did was to move the setting up of usernames and passwords from the "configuration" section to the "administration" section. I still have to pause for a second or two to work out where I'm going when I want to add a user.
When I worked for Logica many years ago I worked on a project which had a number of subsystems, and each of those had further sub-subsystems. The subsystems had three letter abbreviations and the sub-subsystems a further three letters. So, for example, IOSHAN was the HANdler part of the Input Output Subsystem.
The next project I worked on used the same idea and we thought carefully about the names before we started. And of course variable and routine names followed this convention.
In the rush to get going it's easy to stop and not name things carefully, but it reduces frustration if you think about it from the start.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
A good post on what's involved in Bible translation from a new blog by Dave G.
Just in case you think Bible Translation is a back-room activity for the seriously academic, here is a blog from a Bible-translation type who thinks otherwise.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
While I'm in Calgary I took the opportunity to visit the SIL team doing language software development for Linux. I got my first look at an OLPC running Bibledit. This has great potential for translation teams, as they don't need expensive laptops to get work done. In fact part of the reason for putting effort into Linux development is because you don't have to pay the overhead of getting legal copies of Windows and the other tools for the work (Office, Publisher, Photoshop). They're a nice bunch and they've even been so kind as to release some of their work which has general use - a library to help getting COM based Windows software to work under Linux.