Customer-facing identifiers

I’m still installing miscellaneous drivers for my work laptop (Dell Inspiron 1501).  I just downloaded an additional printer driver for an office printer, but can anyone tell me in less than 5 seconds, without Googling, which file is the printer driver?

Unless you have Internet access, you’ll have a tough time guessing which is which.  That doesn’t really help me when one of the drivers I’m installing is the network driver, and therefore have no Internet access yet.

I think this is a prime example of technical data making its way to the customer’s eyes, when it shouldn’t.  Nothing on these files gives any indication what the driver is for.  I understand needing to have some identifying values on the file name for support purposes, but can I at least get a category in the file name? At least twice I’ve clicked and guessed wrong this week.

I was on a product team once that used GUIDs for all entity identifiers.  Unfortunately, we also forced the users to use the GUIDs to load any entity from our API, but provided no way to easily extract them from any user interface.  End users had to manually type in all 32 hexadecimal characters from going back and forth from the screen to the code.  The irate emails cascaded down, and we didn’t make that mistake again.

Customers care about identity, they want to know that they’re retrieving the right customer, and that the customer they’re retrieving isn’t duplicated.  Developers sometimes make the mistake that customers always care about how the identity is maintained, through a GUID or otherwise.  Under most circumstances, they don’t, so we shouldn’t force our special internal technical solutions for identities on customers and end users.  It’s one of the quickest ways to confuse them.

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About Jimmy Bogard

I'm a technical architect with Headspring in Austin, TX. I focus on DDD, distributed systems, and any other acronym-centric design/architecture/methodology. I created AutoMapper and am a co-author of the ASP.NET MVC in Action books.
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  • http://schambers.lostechies.com Sean Chambers

    You don’t even know how many times I’ve complained about this right here.

    Being a school district we have thousands of machines, most of them being Dell’s. It got to the point that I was so frustrated with these numbered driver packages that I downloaded every driver for every model dell we use (about a dozen), put them on a network share and renamed them to the appropriate name like:

    R114200-nic.driver
    R322533-display.driver

    etc..

    I kept the original number so I can still look it up if need be but this way everyone doesn’t have to dig through internet docs to find the right driver.

    Very annoying however. good point!