G+G logo   Gordon & Gordon is a partnership of two award-winning writers who specialize in high-technology, Manuel Gordon and Gordon Graham. Our clients hire us to explain complex products and to persuade demanding customers. And we share our many years of experience through practical, cost-effective consulting and training.  















Understanding Complex Software


Workshop Overview

"SUPERDUPER provides a comprehensive infrastructure for application services, along with object-oriented tools and components for building a three-tier network security management framework for all platforms including mainframes, UNIX, Linux and Windows. It includes a powerful X server, an extremely flexible text-based terminal emulator, a Windows Explorer-based FTP client and more!"

If you are a technical writer, instructional designer, trainer, or marketing person who needs to explain products like this, then we have the workshop for you!

Looking below the surface

If you're working on a complex software project, you need to understand what's going on below the user interface. And there's a lot going on down there.

Scratch below the surface of any big system and you quickly find clients and servers, controls and widgets, middleware and middle-tiers and n-tiers, classes and objects and instances, methods, properties, functions and procedures, COM and CORBA and ActiveX, Web services and application services, and yes: UNIX systems even have daemons!

Do you understand all this? Can you hold up your end of a conversation at your workplace? Or do you need a good workshop to help you understand what the developers and engineers are talking about?


Who Should Attend
  • Technical writers and instructional designers and trainers who need to explain complex software to system administrators or programmers
  • Technical writers who work on installation and operation manuals, software development kits (SDKs) and design documentation (such as functional specifications)
  • Marketing people who need to create promotional literature for complex software
  • Anyone in the industry who wants to better understand how computer programs work.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this workshop, you will be able to understand and explain complex multi-component, multi-platform, multi-everything software either in documentation, marketing materials or training guides.

What You Will Learn

The visible components of software

  • Programmer interfaces (APIs)
  • User interfaces
  • Metafiles
  • File layouts
  • Protocols
The (usually) invisible components of software
  • Functions and procedures
  • Classes and objects
  • Methods and properties
The code stored on a PC
  • Executables
  • DLLs
  • The relationship between APIs and DLLs
Running code
  • Processes
  • Threads
  • Services
  • Daemons
The layers (software components) of a system
  • Front ends and back ends
  • Clients and servers
  • N-tiers and middle-tiers
Beyond the PC
  • Mainframes
  • UNIX and Linux
  • NT
  • PDAs and wireless devices
Connecting all the layers
  • Communication protocols
  • Middleware
  • Terminal emulators
Designing layers to be easy to connect
  • COM and DCOM
  • ActiveX
Connecting the entire universe with Web services
  • .NET
  • J2EE
  • XML
  • SOAP
Modeling complex software with old-style diagrams
  • Data flow diagrams
  • Entity-relationship diagrams
  • State-transition diagrams
  • Structure diagrams
Modeling complex software with object-oriented diagrams
  • UML
  • Object-relationship diagrams
  • Use case diagrams
There will be time for questions throughout the workshop. Afterwards, all participants are welcome to email their questions on complex software to Manuel Gordon.


What People Say about this Workshop

Note: Understanding Complex Software is a new workshop, but much of the material is adapted from System Design, an earlier workshop that Manuel Gordon has presented many times, including at two international STC Conferences.

Here is a selection of comments on the relevant parts of System Design:

"Excellent! Exactly what I've needed since I became a tech writer in a software environment."

"Packed with useful information. Very well-prepared. Articulately delivered. Just superb!"

"Discussion of buzzwords was very helpful, since so many new ones crop up daily."

"All in all, this was a day well spent. The part about diagrams was very useful—especially the use cases. This is a good way to look at things."

"Well-paced, level not too deep for me to comprehend, good mix of activities and lectures. I appreciate the personal workbook as well as the refences to supplemental reading materials."

"Knowledgeable, excellent presenter."

"The presenter's knowledge was impressive. And I appreciate the bibliography."

"Mr. Gordon is very knowledgeable about his subject and was able to impart this information extremely well—a great teacher!"

"Underscored the importance of the 'technical' in technical writing... something that we need to be able to do more and more."

"The speaker was interesting and entertaining. The material was well-organized. The slides were well-prepared. And the workbook allowed for all the scribbling that anybody could possibly desire."

"I'd take another course from Gordon & Gordon."


Upcoming Presentations

This workshop is not currently scheduled.

To be notified when this workshop is next held, email us at manuel@gordonandgordon.com.


How to Contact Us
Last updated:
April 28, 2003

Entire contents
© 1999-2009
by Manuel Gordon
& Gordon Graham



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How to reach Manuel Gordon

Tel: (514) 934-3274

Fax: (514) 934-6077

Email: manuel@gordonandgordon.com

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  How to reach Gordon Graham

Tel: (705) 842-2428 Eastern

Email: gordon@gordonandgordon.com