2021 Week 12

Yesterday was the first day of spring, so happy spring. I can finish work before it’s dark now, and go for a walk while there’s still a bit of sunlight. It’s a good feeling.

I’ve started cutting a bit on caffiene – I’ve got no idea why, but my second coffee of the day has started making me feel “buzzed”. I’ve now got some decaf from Dark Arts Coffee (‘Life After Death’, and yes that’s a referral link), so let’s see how that goes…

I don’t speak much about work projects on here, but I’ve been thinking a lot about documentation over the past couple of weeks. At Monzo, our customer support staff spend a lot of their time dealing with the more complex cases that are harder to automate. This often involves consulting documentation that references the behaviour or design of a system.

Those systems also change frequently: requirements shift, we discover bugs, or ship improvements. But, every change risks invalidating some documentation that someone spent time crafting. As we ship these changes, the true behaviour and the documentation drift from each other. There’s a much bigger blog post wrapped up in this, but I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the problem and prototype some ideas.

The obvious answer would be if the system produced its own documentation: but what if the documentation produced the system? As an engineer, it’s not my responsibility to decide how we risk score a business, but it is my responsibility to make sure I write the correct code. What if changing a document on our risk policy also made that take effect in software? To put it another way: if our business logic is wrapped up in the ‘walled garden’ of code, how can we make that accessible and understandable to non-engineers?

I’m writing this because there are loads of different directions this can go in, and (seemingly) few tools that solve some/part of this problem. If there’s anything you know of, I’d be keen to hear more about it.

I hope you’re all well, say hey if you’re still reading: otherwise I’m pretty happy shouting into the void 👋🏼

PS. If you have any photos of cherry blossom, tweet them to Jami.