How do you document your design work?
I am a professor at a university and I teach the capstone courses. One of the areas that I struggle with is getting the students to document their work. Currently I am requiring them to use a quad-lined notebook.
I am just wondering what is the method(s) used by engineers in the workplace. Here are some examples that I have heard about
a) quad-line notebook
b) computer software (which one)
c) tablet app (which one)
d) smart phone app (which one)
Thank you very much for your time and help.
Back in the day, companies would provide design notebooks, and even encourage engineers to have witnesses sign pages that revealed new designs (for consideration in patents). Some changes in patent law probably caused the death of that practice. I still like drawing with a #2 pencil on Ampad Quadrille paper. Like on this page
It seems archaic that people actually write stuff down, but I still do. Sad to admit this but I write on the nearest scrap of paper, like an opened envelope... if it is important I will enter it somewhere in computerland. If it sits around long enough I will forget what I was thinking and it will be thrown away. My handwriting is so poor I often cannot make out what I was thinking!
Most engineers don't use tablets, because they need to carry around a laptop to process data.
I have no real expertise in apps, but sharepoint (word, powerpoint), google docs, helpdesk... there are many ways to document designs. Collaborative tools help speed up the design process but are open to malicious intent or accidental misuse, or VPN issues. There is an entire cottage industry that will tell you what the best process is, even though the proponents have never designed anything useful in their lives.
I would be interested in hearing from other people on this topic.
* I always put annotations in my schematics, as text, and even images
* Lot of words documents in my project folder.
* Excel as soon as I mix numbers/calculations/explanations.
* Notepad++ (text files) for small content.
Keep it simple and convenient for success.
I use Microsoft OneNote.
I collect all the data in excel so I can manipulate it as needed.
If your using a LabView program you can attach the Vi’s.
I will take photos with my camera.
I’ll save Oscilloscope, Network Analyzer, Spectrum Analyzer, etc. screen shots.
I put all this in OneNote. You can add the manufactures data sheets, web links, and whatever.
You end up with a story book of your project.
Thank you for your comments.
I question that I forgot to ask is "How to you document software?"
I usually tell my students to put documentation into their code. But how should they document it in their lab notebooks? In the past (with very limited success) I have them put a flowchart in the lab notebook and then reference this flowchart to the code.
Thank you for your time and help.
I use MS Word, just copy and paste stuff from Microwave Office, and paste in photos from a pocket camera. I use the Testwave software (within MWO) heavily in the lab. Each project has it's own document; nothing shared like a lab notebook. This is more for my own purposes than any patent stuff, because invariable I'll have to dig up something a year later, and I can't remember how I did it. It's easy to give the report to customers too.
I've been documenting a lot with Jupyter notebook because it uses simple markdown (so it does simple formatting and images). It also executes code -- for example, I find myself plotting s-parameters using scikit-rf a lot. It can be exported to a single HTML document for sharing with others.
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