14. Nov, 2019

Format versus Content

Content picture by https://pixabay.com/illustrations/content-is-king-online-marketing-1132259/ 

No BLOG post yesterday as there was a technical Internet issue in my part of Germany. A combination of my service provider and Google 😲. Unbelievable in 2019, when everybody wants to be always on and the enabling technology is down ...

During my studies back in the good old 1980s I had a lecture about industrial design and the main discussion was, is the key driver for design "form follows function" or "function follows form"? When you are designing a large industrial plant the function definitely drives the form and the main design effort might be related to the color only 😉. An infotainment system in the automotive industry is purely driven by form, and the function has to fit into the available space inside the given design. In this example I see the form as the format and the function as the content, just to be clear.

After my studies I did work several years in the mechanical CAD area and we made a clear separation between basic meta data, the drawing format and header plus the content to be filled in the header or to be added on the drawing. All information was only coming together on a Computer screen of by printing the drawing. A perfect way to e.g. rebrand a company over night, you just need to change the drawing formats. Something similar is XML (designed to carry data) versus HTML (designed to display data) files  https://www.w3schools.com/XML/xml_whatis.asp 

Coming to the work environment of 2019, where every manager or project is requesting individual reports about the progress made during a defined period of time. As long as you are meeting the format requirements content does not matter, because it is much more difficult to control and verify anyway 😉. What a waste of time, especially in an Agile environment  https://youtu.be/Z9QbYZh1YXY. The supporting tools should be smart enough to collect the necessary content and then the manager or project can fill it into their personal reporting format on their own. Put the pain where it should be, will increase the motivation to reuse already existing reporting formats 😉. 

So with respect to Format versus Content for me it should be EITHER OR and not AND. Give it a try.