RE: New Hires

Subject: RE: New Hires
From: Chuck Martin <CMartin -at- serena -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 6 Jan 2000 11:43:45 -0800

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Debbie Packer [mailto:dpacker -at- stingrayboats -dot- com]
> Sent: Thursday, January 06, 2000 10:59 AM
> Mark Baker wrote:
> > In any case, if a technical writing candidate asks for tool
> > training it is a sure sign they don't have what it takes to
> > be a technical writer. If you can't figure out how to work
> > a software package by yourself, how will you ever learn
> > about the new products you will be documenting? There won't be
> > any manuals or training available until you write them!
> This is the best thing I've heard yet! If someone doesn't have
> the ability to learn a software package on their own, I don't
> think they have any business attempting to document other
> software packages.

I'm amazed and shocked reading these 2 comments. so much software is *still*
so badly designed that its use cannot be inferred from its design--at least
not easily. And despite the gains by the technical communication community
it getting better designed and written documentation with product, there's
still a raft of poorly written and incomplete documentation out there.

Just as it's not easy learning to use badly designed software, so it is also
not easy to document badly designed software. How many of us have had to go
to a programmer and ask "How does this work?" or "How do you do this here?"

I can dig into the nooks and crannies of software with the best of them, and
yet I have had plenty of times where I was just stumped over the years--and
that includes with the tools I use for development. At times, the answers
I've received from toolmakers on how something works just reconfirm that
tool makers just aren't doing interaction design when they create their

It has nothing to do with an inability to learn or figure out a software
package; it's because so much software is still designed so badly.

Chuck Martin
Sr. Technical Writer, SERENA Software

"People who use business software might despise it, but they are getting
paid to tolerate it....Most people who are paid to use a tool feel
constrained not to complain about that tool, but it doesn't stop them from
feeling frustrated and unhappy about it."
- "The Inmates are Running the Asylum"
Alan Cooper

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