Tripped up by imprecise terminology

In OWA 2000 SP2, we added some registry keys to control certain behavior related to attachments. We needed the keys to be set by default, so I talked to the setup team, and they agreed to make the change. I sent them a mini speclet where I described that we’d have the registry keys under HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\MSExchangeWeb\OWA, the keys would be named Level2MIMETypes and Level2FileTypes, and gave them the default values.

Satisfied with my proactive work on this, I left the testing of the buddy drop to the tester and went home. The next day I had my tester in my office telling me that the setup team totally screwed it up. They’d created new nodes in the registry rather than new values. I went to talk to the dev, who explained that he gave me exactly what I asked for – registry keys. If I’d wanted new registry values, then I should have said that in the beginning.

To him, this was basic vocabulary. He knew that registry keys are on the left-hand side of regedit and have folder icons, whereas registry values are on the right-hand side of regedit and have different icons depending on their type. To me, “registry key” was just a part of the vernacular I’d learned and there were different types of registry keys, such as DWORDs, strings, etc.

This was an important lesson for me in two ways – #1 be specific, and #2 double check everything, using visual examples when possible.

Comments (3)

  1. James Manning says:

    heh – good story. I got to the point where I just export the node I care about and send people a .reg.txt file (since .reg extension is blocked) that they can import – then the results are at least clear – the .reg file format defines the common vocabulary authoritatively 🙂

  2. Steve says:

    I clicked in here to say the exact same thing as James. Alas, he has already said it.

  3. KC Lemson says:

    Yep, visual examples are always king.