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"Rule 5: Templates considered harmful" I Disagree

Joel says this here: Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

It is my opinion that a template( with respect to writing specs or designing features for products) is a loose set of guidelines that can be followed, just to make sure that you didn't miss something.

There is no hard and fast rule that just because a section exists, it needs to be filled out.

What do you think?

Prakash S
Friday, September 6, 2002

Too often 'suggested' sections become required.

My company's web based requirements system started with most fields being optional. It was decided that people were skiping items that should be filled in so they made entries manditory.

Then they didn't like the fact that people were using 'NA' or 'N/A' so they made the fields a minimum of 4 characters. I now fill in a whole bunch of fields (not necessary ones) with 'nope'.

Friday, September 6, 2002

I've found templates, even less-than-great ones, to be very helpful.  I use templates for my hardware specs; they remind me of things I need to include and, most important, help me avoid the dreaded "blank page" syndrome when I'm creating a spec (for me, there's nothing worse than staring at a blank page when trying to start a document).  My templates have lots of sections, some of which won't apply to the project at hand.  I remove those sections and create others.

That said, I agree that organizations often make templates mandatory, resulting in specs that have irrelevant sections and, worse, missing sections.  But process that doesn't accommodate change is just process run amuck.  That's hardly the template's fault.

In summary:

Templates considered good.

Mindless use of templates considered harmful.

Working for an organization or person who mistakes process for straitjacket considered harmful.

Hardware Guy
Friday, September 6, 2002

So what most people like is having a good example. I agree with that. But usually it is very hard to find one.

Although I don't think templates are always bad, they have many side effects. If they contain a lot of non-sense (which is usually the case) then I agree with Joels opinion.

I have worked with a lot of templates and for many small documents I spend more time creating, reviewing and reworking things like references and abbreviations that where commonly known by all project members. That's BAD. Or creating 4 documents of 6 pages for a module with only one, 1-line function (a device driver for a pheripheral that can only be switched on or off). That's BAD!

Adriaan van den Brand
Monday, September 9, 2002

Templates good.

It makes you think you've done a whole lotta work <g>

Mark Alexander Bertenshaw
Monday, September 9, 2002

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