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Creating Training Data - Fictional Customers, Contacts, new entities etc.


Whenever I am working on a project where there is a significant modification or new module is added to the system (NAV in my case) I usually prepare some training notes or short user guide to go with it. In order to do the screen shots of the pages, reports and documents some data is required to show it working, but I have got thinking about what data should be showing in the documentation.

I see the following options:

  • Use the standard CRONUS demo customers, contacts, which if this is for a new module may not exist... and gets a bit dull...
  • Plain mock up data, John Smith, Jane Doe, Pierre LeBlanc etc... which also gets a bit dull...
  • The client's own data - which while being exactly what the client will really see might have data that is sensitive, such as contact details, balance, bank account details, grants, discounts etc. and it might be a breach of security to use. Confidential documents go in shredders but software training notes may end up in the green bin or wastepaper basket because the client doesn't see them as being confidential. 
  • Make things interesting by throwing in historical figures or characters, locations and businesses from popular culture like the Sherlock Holmes stories, James Bond, Doctor Who (Human only) etc. While this does liven up writing documentation (And give the more eagle eyed clients something to spot) is it again actually legal to have Francisco Scaramanga, James Moriarty, Christian Grey, Sebastian Moran, Hugo Drax or organisations like "Drax Metals" or "I.M. Foreman, Scrap Merchants" or a breach of copyright? :)

I thought I would ask what other people do? :D     

Time for coffee!