Tuesday, 4 August 2009

How tools become redundant

Word was designed to produce perfect documents on paper. Latterly, we write more and more for the web. A company which has based its reason-to-be on such a product is vulnerable to such change. More on this subject here and here.

As a taster for the latter link, the below shows just how awful working with Word can be in a world of email and multiple authors:
* People sometimes forget to attach the document to their email.
* The document can be too large—especially long documents with lots of images—and can clog up the email server.
* Nobody knows what edits were made and by whom. Sure, you can turn "Track Changes" on, but as it transforms your document into a horrible illegible mess, most people very quickly turn it off again.
* Nobody has any idea which is the most recent version of the document. This leads to amusing email flame wars where people insist that you adopt version control for your file names, which nobody ever does because they are too busy arguing about what the syntax should be. Even if you do manage to get version control, you are still never sure if you have the most recent version.
* People save the document in some directory on their hard drive and then forget where it is. The usual solution to this is to email the author again and ask them to resend it.
* People miss the email (usually because there are far too many emails in a day) and claim to have never received the document in the first place.

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