I've just spent the swedish 4.5-day Easter weekend on some
of the most frenzied hacking I've done in years,
resulting in my new favourite home-made program: Distel.
It's a partial and interoperable implementation of the
Erlang programming language in Emacs Lisp. And
I even have time left to brag about it on the internet
before the sun rises!
I spent about a day writing a manual for Distel, which makes
it the second program that I've been so excited about that
I've written a "real" manual for it. The other was Echidna. I
usually avoid writing, but it is interesting to go through a
lot of iterations of the
edit-print-read cycle, catching problems and making
little improvements each time. The really interesting thing
is how unsatisfactory it would turn out without all those
Which raises the awkward thought: I don't print/read/edit my programs that way. As an experiment I've been going through the loop a few times with some of my source code, and I think it makes a really solid improvement. I guess this is old news to good programmers, but I'm not usually in the habbit of sitting down and reading my own programs start-to-end.
If I were a real man I'd ask some colleagues to point out my worst code, and print/read/edit that. But I'm not sure I'm that brave right now :-)
All that said, the manual is probably full of typos, and the programs full of bugs - but such is life!