The Mind Wobbles

So many things to absorb, think about, deal with and put up with - it simply makes the mind wobble...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Process Flow Diagrams - the Devil's Work

As some of you may know, I'm a Technical Writer in the IT field. That means I primarily write procedures - usually for software - for end users as well as technical personnel. I also write release notes for some inhouse software, configuration documents, etc. Lately however, my boss has asked me to start doing process flow charts - something like the image above - using a product called Visio.

This is a problem for me. First, because I think verbally not visually. And secondly because I'm somewhat obsessive. Really - I was diagnosed, medicated and *therapped* (went to therapy for) mild obsessive disorder. So, an endeavor that consists of lines, arrows and aligned shapes isn't really good for me.

See, I *HAVE* to get the arrows and lines or "connectors" perfectly straight and the same length as well as getting all the shapes aligned perfectly. Seriously. No matter how long it takes. Not because anyone is forcing this perfection - it's all me. No one else really cares as long as the information is there and in order. Never mind that you have to zoom the diagram to 200% to see that the lines aren't perfect, *I* know they're not perfect and that's enough.

It's awful.



Anonymous Mary said...

Me too on the Visio although I enjoy the process and always have loved this sort of adventure. Recently I had to draw floorplans for a realtor that I work for. Don't get me started.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Muffy St. Bernard said...

Flowcharts, no!

One reason I went to the STC Summit was to learn how to make non-ugly diagrams and flowcharts. I don't think visually either.

One presenter (Patrick Hoffmann) had GREAT tips for flowcharts and diagrams, one of which was that we no longer need to use those hideous Visio most situations we can be creative and work with colour as opposed to those awful diamonds and "ripped-off-paper" shapes.

This doesn't help your obsessiveness, though. I haven't worked with Visio for a long time, but isn't there some sort of Grid function? If you can come up with some quick style guidelines that fit on a grid, aligning your connectors should be a breeze.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Toni Lea Andrews said...

Er, uh, Hilda, you DO know that Visio has tools that will align and distribute the shapes and lines FOR you, right?

I still use Visio for visual plotting!

9:52 AM  
Blogger Hilda said...

Yes, I assumed they had tools that would do it for youo but I haven't had a chance to find them - they werent mentioned in the useless online trainnig I took.

We're looking into a tool where you write the information as text and the application generates the chart.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Katya said...

Those things are evil! I had the worst time diagramming sentences when I was a kid because no one told me that the lines didn't have to be at a certain angle and of a certain length. This would be similar only this time I'd know and I'd still have to get the arrows and lines exactly right!

9:48 PM  
Blogger Twango said...

I feel for you. I totally understand that obsession as it is my affliction too. I used to cheat and do the simple type ones in Excel. There wouldn't be arrows, but you can be sure EVERYTHING was lined up perfectly.

9:00 PM  

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