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JOEL ON SOFTWARE: And on Diverse and Occasionally Related Matters That Will Prove of Interest to Software Developers, Designers, and Managers, and to Those Who, Whether by Good Fortune or Ill Luck, Work with Them in Some Capacity by Joel Spolsky

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eightPAINLESS FUNCTIONAL SPECIFICATIONSPART 4: TIPS

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2000

OK, we've talked about why you need a spec, what a spec has in it, and who should write them. In this fourth and final part of the series, I'll share some of my advice for writing good specs.

The biggest complaint you'll hear from teams that do write specs is that nobody reads them. When nobody reads specs, the people who write them tend to get a little bit cynical. It's like the old Dilbert cartoon in which engineers use stacks of 4-inch thick specs to build extensions to their cubicles. At your typical big, bureaucratic company, everybody spends months and months writing boring specs. Once the spec is done, it goes up on the shelf, never to be taken down again, and ...

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