Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Logical is not always obvious

As a professional who builds software for people who I will probably never meet, I need a good kick once in a while to remind me that obvious to me is not obvious to all. It has nothing to do with intelligence or experience but more to do with seeing the world as a programmer.

For a day and a half, I have been using word to write a requirements document. Wait, let me finish before you close the page!

I set up a style for a numbered list and chose an option that said "Automatically Update". I assumed it meant that when I updated the style in the style manager window, all paragraphs with that style would be updated. Ummm, no. Usually this wouldn't have bitten me except that every time I created a new numbered list and changed it so that the sequential numbering started again, every single list item with that style applied would also be changed. It resulted in a document with a list of 1-20 items instead of 4 lists of 1-5 items.

It took me a while to realise that once you change a calculated attribute of the paragraph, the whole style would update and so would all the calculated values.

I now understand why this is happening but I don't agree that it should.

Are programmers annoyingly helpful when they should just leave obvious alone?

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