An idea to set content free

Yesterday I mentioned how wikis could be useful way to reflect that fact that use cases, requirements, functionality, design and other aspects of software engineering are dynamic considerations, not static ones. While I mentioned that tools exist to capture the point-in-time state of a wiki into, for example a Word document or a PDF file, I didn’t talk about content flow in the other direction.

I believe that an effective way to seed a grassroots effort to employ wikis in a product development process (PDP) requires the presence of tools that take an existing document baseline and code baseline and produce a flexible environment such as a mature wiki implementation provides.

This belief is based on my experience with establishing UML diagrams as a standard, dense way to communicate design information. (See Martin Fowler’s “UML as Sketch” post for where I stand on UML’s role in a PDP.) During this process, the ability to extract UML class and sequence diagrams from existing code was valuable in establishing what well-formed “sketches” should look like. It also helped to quickly establish a base of work from which to build upon, versus starting from scratch.

So, why not apply reverse- and roundtrip-engineering from the code arena to the content arena?