Dude, where’s my flowchart?

Yesterday was One Of Those Days. I get in around 8:30 after dropping my kid off at school and I do a quick email triage. I had an email from my buddy, Garth Jones, asking if the chm on the product DVD was missing some flowcharts. Uh oh. I don’t like getting emails like that. Especially before I'm fully awake. I went up to the server where the builds live and, sure enough, in the final version in the release to manufacturing (RTM) version, dated Jul 20, there are no graphics to be found. Period. Flowcharts, conceptual art, nada. I am feeling pretty sick at this point. I checked back a few builds. The release candidate (RC) build, dated July 2, looks fine.

I email Garth back and wear out a few of my @#($*@) keys. And I send an email to our Release Manager and say ????????? @#($*@#$(*  ???????????

Then I go back to checking my email. There’s another one from Conan Kezema, same question as Garth. Well, they’re working together on the course for ConfigMgr, so it makes sense that they would both notice around the same time. (Totally cool – they have some troubleshooting labs that reference the flowcharts!) But now I'm really pounding my keys: @#(*$@)!(*#!%&$(&)#&%$$#^&@

Later in the day I hear back from our Release Manager. She replays some mail around the time we handed off, where she noted that the file size had shrunk. We had identified that the art was missing, but when a tester went into verify it, it looked fine. And it was – in that branch.

See, we work in an authoring tool where we use Word (really aDoc) for the front end and there is some XML magic in the back end. In June, we locked down the doc set because we had to hand it off to the translators to get the localized versions of the help. At that time, we branched the back-end database holding our lovely XML topics. The Loc version was frozen for the translators to translate, but we could go back to work in the Main branch so we could create the content for the August web update that went live when the product RTMd.

So that’s what happened. We caught it, but we incorrectly thought we fixed it. What we should have done is one more visual check after it was in the build, and we didn’t. That’s the bad news. The good news is, we have a chm hotfix (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=81997356-7f18-48b2-a53a-d6f995a47f35&DisplayLang=en) that will give you 6 months worth of updated content, plus all of the missing art (and some new art that was added after RTM.) The other good news is, we are in the final stages of getting our International versions released, and it looks like we caught this in time to verify the art in those versions. All of the translated versions had the right art, except the Korean and Chinese Traditional versions, which ship with the English content. But Conan and Garth caught this with just enough time to get it fixed on those DVDs. Three cheers for Garth and Conan!

One of the little things I enjoy about working at Microsoft is we have these first aid kits that are actually stocked with Stuff. Not just Band-Aids and sterile wipes – we have cold medicine, ace bandages, throat lozenges, cold packs, and aspirin. I was very grateful for the aspirin yesterday.


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