RE: The Old Argument: FrameMaker vs. MS Word

Subject: RE: The Old Argument: FrameMaker vs. MS Word
From: Brent L Jones <brent -dot- jones -at- jadesolutions -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 13:42:44 -0700

Mark Baker wrote on 20 January 2000 15:38:


> Technical writing is about writing. Technical writers should
> not be asked to
> do DTP. It is a waste of their time and their talent.
> Technical writers
> forced to do DTP spend more than half their time on layout
> and production
> tasks. These tasks should be performed by people with the
> proper aptitudes
> and skills. Writers should spend their time on research and writing.

I agree. My current job is really annoying, because they actually expect me
to type on a computer--I say what's wrong w/ using a legal pad and a pen? I
think the ideal documentation department would have a ratio of three
technical writers to two transcribers/typists to one DTP person. I'd just
write out pages of longhand. That way the technology would be transparent
and I could concentrate on my real job--research and writing. I'm sick of
spending time on wrestling w/ the computer--these tasks should be performed
by people w/ the proper aptitudes and skills.

Of course, that would be silly. I *actually* think that a technical writer
who isn't comfortable w/ the technologies and media that create, carry, and
present the information he or she is generating is much less useful than one
who is. That includes simple DTP (and let's be honest here, how complex is
the DTP required for *most* user guides, anyway?), word processing, HATs,
HTML, etc.

And I hire accordingly. While I'm not completely "tool-centric," I do
believe that some expertise in these areas, as well as a willingness to
spend time on them, is vital. I'd have a real tough time hiring someone who
said or implied "I don't do DTP--my skillset is based solely on my research
and writing abilities, and that's enough."

That's just me, though. Maybe I'm passing up lot of talent. But I'd prefer
to get the *whole* enchilada--great writer AND competent DTP/tool person.
And they're definitely out there, so why settle for less?

Brent Jones, Documentation Manager
bjones -at- JadeSolutions -dot- com
JADE Solutions
Office: 303 448 1019 x 40
FAX: 303 449 1548

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