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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Comments, Code or Both

What belongs in an implementation guide?  Many HL7 implementation guides and  IHE profiles include the requirements of an implementation, sometimes with an explanation of the more tricky bits.  On a discussion today, someone asked (or at least I thought they did) about the separation of content between documentation stuff and functional requirements with respect to the template meta-Model.

I responded thus:

It's like code.  When I'm doing a code review, if a comment in the code is wrong, the code is wrong, even if the comment doesn't functionally contribute to the execution.  That's because it does contribute to the maintenance of the code it comments on.  So, I don't see a need to keep them separate, and I do in fact see a need to keep descriptive, "non-normative" stuff together with the stuff that allows systems to validate or implement the templates.

The point being that the "non-normative" stuff is what helps implementers do stuff, and it needs to be kept together, even if it doesn't help in code generation.