by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
The following is an excerpt from an interview with Chris Espinosa of Apple Computer, conducted on June 13, 2000. Chris was a member of the original Macintosh team, where he managed the group responsible for the Macintosh developer and user documentation.
Caroline Rose was ... our technical documentation lead, and her relationship with Andy [Hertzfeld, engineer on the original Macintosh team] was really, really funny. She was ... asking him the tough questions about what he was going to do next that he hadn't thought about before. She really made his life difficult, and helped him design better software. She would sit there and say, "But I don't understand. Tell me again how you build a control?" And he'd go through it over and over again, until he finally came to the realization that, "You know, if it's this hard to understand, I didn't do it right." And he'd tell her to go away, and then he'd completely reinvent it overnight. The next day he'd say, "Okay, this is how you do it now," and she'd say, "Oh, that's much clearer; thank you for explaining it."
Well, he didn't explain it better; he completely redesigned it, because it was so hard to explain. That is when documentation really works. And Caroline is the best I've ever seen at that. She sits in an engineer's office, and ... she doesn't play stupid, she just asks them over and over and over again, to explain clearly what they mean. And it forces them to think clearly about what they're designing. She's just without peer.