Simply is one of those “beware” words, if you see it in documentation. For example, “simply install the dependencies for project Foo.” If you’re acquainted with the normal usage of the word, you may be lulled into a sense of complacency when you see simply appear in documentation. But what you should feel is fear, because when simply appears in technical docs it means you’re in for a nasty surprise.
What simply really means is one of the following:
- “I didn’t set up the project dependencies - my system came that way, and I have no idea how to reproduce my working environment.”
- “We couldn’t agree on a standard installation platform, and we couldn’t possibly document all the alternatives. So we’re just going to breeze past the actual steps you’d need to get from point A to point C and hope for the best. I hope you brought your yak-shaving razor.”
- “My boss/project maintainer said I had to write some documentation. It would take entirely too long to document this step, and I really can’t be sussed to to it.”
- “I really don’t want to have to spend any time mentoring noobs. If you don’t already know how to do this, I don’t want you contributing to my project.”
You can rest assured that simply never means that the step that the writer is omitting is actually simple or well-understood.