Chapter 15. The Other Face

What we do not understand we do not possess.GOETHE

O give me commentators plain,Who with no deep researchers vex the brain.CRABBE

A computer program is a message from a man to a machine. The rigidly marshaled syntax and the scrupulous definitions all exist to make intention clear to the dumb engine.

But a written program has another face, that which tells its story to the human user. For even the most private of programs, some such communication is necessary; memory will fail the author-user, and he will require refreshing on the details of his handiwork.

How much more vital is the documentation for a public program, whose user is remote from the author in both time and space! For the program product, the other ...

Get Mythical Man-Month, The: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.