Hitchhiker's Guide to Software Architecture and Everything Else - by Michael Stal

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

About Learning & Documenting

Currently, I am pretty busy. That's the reason why I couldn't add more postings for a while. This posting will also be a short one.

It might seem somehow unrelated to architecture, but nonetheless I find it valuable. I am currently very busy preparing some presentations as well as an article on Software Architecture Refactoring for the german OBJEKTspektrum magazine.

I made some observations about my work style in the last months that I'd like to share with you.

For learning new IT-related things I am often documenting what I learned using Powerpoint presentations. Then, I will constantly rearrange the slides in such a way that they reflect how I consider the material should be organized to help educating others in a better, more effective way. Powerpoint also serves as a tool for organizing my thoughts and works better for me than mind mapping tools for this purpose.

When I am writing an article, I often prepare the material as a presentation and then use the presentation as a story line for the article. This helped me writing scientific papers as well as other professional articles. The presentation contains much less content by nature but forces me to design the rough storyline, while I am sometimes lost in details when I start writing articles.

I often also use pattern templates to organize my efforts when I need to solve architectural problems. Pattern templates are very powerful, because they require me thinking in terms such as context, problem, forces, solution, consequences and so forth.

In summary, I guess such tools really help me being better organized. Any similar experiences by someone else?

I am really wondering what tools and methods others recommend.

4 Comments:

  • If you can afford yourself, I recommend MS office OneNote. It's a very nice tool that gives you a place to write your thoughts and ideas, and afterwards export them to wherever you want. One of it's best features is the ability to sketch and write very quickly, without needing to save (auto-save is always on). You should give it a try.

    By Blogger Moshe Basanchig, at 11:30 AM  

  • I prefer mind mapping tools. I think your way of learning new things is a good one because you only can teach something if you really ate, internalized, comprehended, ... it.

    The limitation of just writing down keywords, categories, just the most important words is helpful for focussing on the essence of the stuff to learn. Mindmapping means to use less words, less prose. Instead of many words you have to intensively reconsider what to write on a branch.

    Why do you prefer slides?

    By Anonymous Michael, at 11:23 AM  

  • I prefer mind mapping tools. I think your way of learning new things is a good one because you only can teach something if you really ate, internalized, comprehended, ... it.

    The limitation of just writing down keywords, categories, just the most important words is helpful for focussing on the essence of the stuff to learn. Mindmapping means to use less words, less prose. Instead of many words you have to intensively reconsider what to write on a branch.

    Why do you prefer slides?

    By Anonymous Michael, at 11:26 AM  

  • Hi,

    it started some months ago when i used an offer from vistaprint.de to get 250 postcards free of charge. I planned to use it as some business cards where you can paint ideas etc. on the back.
    So the front reads: ... an idea from www.uli-merkel.de.

    I always have some of them with me wherever i go, and I started to scribble my ideas on them as well.

    I end up with a deck of cards resistant enough to undergo multiple sorts/reads/stick-it-on-boards/...

    So I vote for the "PnP" (Pencial and Postcard).

    By Anonymous Uli Merkel, at 2:12 PM  

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