Passionate Development From Journeyman to Master

configuration tool is better than documentation

At work, I have been the developer in charge of Job Board implementation team for almost a year and soon I will be handing it over to someone else.

Naturally, documentation is an important part of the hand over process. When I was writing documentation on how to set up a job board which consists of: inserting records on few tables, updating configuration columns on some tables (we called them flags), etc2, I realized it is actually quite an involved process.

If I merely provide a documentation, then the next developer will have to tediously deal with over 30 columns on the tables, this will be quite tiresome and mind numbing process for the developer. Needless to say that this is also error prone process, it's quite easy to miss something in the process.

I believe in this case a configuration tool will be better than a documentation or rather a configuration tool is a better form of documentation.

A configuration tool will take some time to build, but hey we are doing ColdFusion, so building these tools should be a breeze. A configuration tool is just a simple form to add/edit records to the relevant tables, in it  the developer can put some information. For instance there might be a column that should only populated with value from a list (ala enumeration type in MySQL), when the developer is dealing directly with the database, there is no control on what values he might put in on the field. But with a tool, this field can be represented with an HTML select field.

Another plus of building tools is: you can have more freedom to implement it the way you want, you can be creative with it since it's only used internally. It might also be a good place to test things like frameworks or open source packages (for example in this case, I was using cfUniForm).