Re: The Real Offense

Subject: Re: The Real Offense
From: Jo Francis Byrd <jbyrd -at- byrdwrites -dot- com>
To: Scottie Lover <iluvscotties -at- mindspring -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2000 14:21:37 -0600

One of my more frustrating contracts occured for a project where I understood
perfectly how the program worked, but had NO clue as to why I'd ever want to. I
found the project manager's prediction that I would know the program better than
anyone there frighteningly accurate. Never did I have any clue as to the business
purpose, nor could I get any feedback as to the accuracy of my documentation.

When I left, I asked permission to use the help file as part of my portfolio,
going so far as to create a prototype with all the technical, proprietary stuff
stripped out (it LOOKED sharp, everything worked perfectly). The legal department
went into hysterics. EVERYone was dying to see this program!!! Yeah, right. In
their dreams!

Quality documentation requires a partnership between the writer and the
development staff. Too bad it doesn't always work that way.

Jo Byrd

Scottie Lover wrote in part:

> Truer words were never spoken! It is unbelievably frustrating to try to use a
> technical manual, only to finally realize that whomever wrote it had no idea
> how the hardware/software worked or would be used. When you're writing a
> programming manual, every space and word has to be very precise -- and only
> someone familiar with the language can even hope to achieve that.
> Yes, I know that some technical writers write manuals for a wide variety of
> languages, hardware, and software. With rare exception, I work hard to avoid
> buying anything they've written.

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