Lost Documentation!!

8 04 2006

Back to the crux of all things – documentation. I suddenly realized why we need the documentation when suddenly a lot of people started to leave and the things that they had started here went for a toss as they have as yet not created any documentation in a Word Doc but only in their minds…

My PM came over today and the thing on his mind was to assimilate and get all the work that had been done by the people, into a single entry point on the version control system and then work on integrating the same for all the products and applications. Currently, the task I am doing is majorly centered on the Windows platform, but now I will have to check on all the products and all the platforms and see where all optimizations can be made so that re-work is not required. It takes a lot of effort and thought to create something but only a little bit of negligence to completely destroy the same. A prime example of the same is the test framework I am currently working on. Now we had a perfect version checker written in Perl, which used to check the version of the product installed by us and the version of the product as given by the executable. But the build and installer person decided that [or rather forgot] that he has to update the version number in the installed package. This made the situation that the version obtained from the package was different from the version given in the setup directory name and again different from what the user was entering it as. So came the problem that when we installed the product, the versions would not match and the product was again uninstalled, but as we were not checking the product version when installing, just the executable file was being checked, we used to install the product again, reboot and then get the version from the command line tool. This was matched with the version given by the user and again a loop as no match means uninstall the product… πŸ˜€

The main thing I next learnt from this was never to trust anything where a human can make an error, as the famous words go, “if anything can go wrong it will” [along with “to err is human”] and the axiom added by my Project Manager from the first organization I worked in – “the thing that goes wrong will happen in front of the customer”, which is this case was the QA team who were supposed to execute the automated framework. They took the build and the process went into a loop… 😦

So coming back to the documentation part now, I was as is by habit creating all these documents, but could not comprehend this eventuality of the loop as I have given above. So exactly what does the documentation do? Well! for the first part, it got us immediately to the solution of this problem. From teh given documentation we already knew that something was going wrong in the comparision algorithm as everytime we got the message that ‘Version not Match’ and then uninstallation of the product and after that again an installation of the same. On going through the comments for the installation, I realized that I had not catered for human error and thus the solution to the problem was to cater for this, a major thing which I realized for Automation of anything was FAULT TOLERANCE...!! This has to be built into the system, else all our automation efforts fail, if we are just spending time in monitoring the application which has been automated.

As for the documentation part of all the other tasks being done for the automation, I realised that none of the others had any sort of documentation to go with them, except the typical programmers prospective of code and go, the logic and document is within the brain of the programmer who created the wonder of an application in the first place and as I have said earlier an unmaintainable application which if not understood and needs change might be discarded later. This was causing anxiety to my manager and thus, I am now to get down and create a document or ask the people who created these applications in the first place to create the same... [ the second option definitely looks appealing... πŸ˜› ]

More coming' up...!!

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