Data Warehousing, BI and Data Science

26 May 2012

Principles of Explaining Things

Filed under: Other — Vincent Rainardi @ 10:19 pm

Some of the principles I try to follow when writing a post/article are:

  1. Learn by example
    It is easier for the reader to understand if we give an example. It is often easier for them to understand the example, than the definition. I believe that human learn best  using examples, not by understanding the definitions. For example, rather than explaining how to populate a fact table, it is better to actually do it in SSIS and take the readers through the process, step by step. An example provides the reader/learner with something to copy.
  2. Show the end result first
    It is quicker to make readers understand a procedure if we snow them how the end result looks like, before we begin. For example, before explaining the 6 steps of how to build an SSIS workflow that populate a dimension, readers will have clearer understanding if we first display the screenshot: “This is how it will look when we finish. Now let’s do it step by step.” Because now the readers have the big picture in their mind of what they are trying to achieve.
  3. Start with a simple one first, then build up
    Rather trying to be perfect and explain 16 steps required to build a cube, it is better to start with just 6 steps, the most basic one. Then after we have succeeded to make the user/reader understand the basic 6 steps, we introduce 3 additional steps. And after they can truly grasp the 9 steps, we add 3 more, and so on until we reach the perfect 16 steps. But if you try to explain all 16 in the beginning, it will take longer time for them to understand.
  4. It’s easier to show it than explaining it
    Rather than typing 1000 words try to explain Resource Governor in SQL Server, it is quicker to just show them the screens. Ideally it’s video capture, but if you can’t then static picture will do. Pictures are much better than words in explaining things to other people.
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