RE: tech writer bookshelf

Subject: RE: tech writer bookshelf
From: "Haas, Guy" <ghaas -at- selectica -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2000 12:41:19 -0800

Well thank you, Michele, for your opinion. One thing this discourse
shows is that different people learn things differently. Some can
learn from Nutshell-series-style summaries, while other learn best
from discussions.

My "when" and "why" have to do with the user-guide explanations of
when to use THIS construct, and when to use THAT one; as well as
"why" this one is better for THIS situation than that other one is.
Nutshell books show mostly syntax, with precious little semantics.

I've written (programming) language reference documents that tell
you what can be said, and user guide documents that tell you what
needs to be said in order to accomplish some task.

Someone who can learn Perl and Java from the Nutshell series probably
knows a good bit about UNIX and C/C++ already. But Nutshell series
is not the place for most beginners to learn new technologies.

Tufte is about communication, not writing. He IS more graphics
oriented, but you can learn a lot about how to WRITE about things
by seeing his presentations. No, it won't help with matters like
tense or passive/active voice, but it will give you some ideas about
when a graphic is a better choice, and even the order of presentation
of textual items in text or in a table. His books ARE pricey, but
have you looked at O'Reilly's best sellers? "Java and XML" (McLaughlin)
is $40 and "Enterprise JavaBeans, 2nd Edition" (Monson-Haefel) is $35.

Another book about communication that we would likely disagree about
is "Understanding Comics" (McCloud).

I use too, but for things like usage notes ("different
from" vs. "different than", etc.) I stick with AHD.

Noting that Susan Gallagher has suggested "anything by Donald Norman,"
I hasten to point out that his work is great, but I have found at least
one of his books heavily overlapping others. If you buy ONE and think
it is great, do thumb through the next one you plan to buy, to see
how much of the material is new.

-----Original Message-----
From: Michele Davis [mailto:michele -at- krautgrrl -dot- com]
Sent: Thursday, November 16, 2000 11:16 AM
Subject: Re: tech writer bookshelf

Well thank you Guy for your opinion. I disagree. I think the Art of Indexing
very good for any tech writers library. I also learned Java and Perl from
the In

a Nutshell series, but then again I already knew I had to learn them, I
need to know when or why. I was recommending them because they are my
in my library.

My comment about CMS, I wouldn't bother. It's difficult to read, and
unhelpful when you really need some nugget of information, as a new writer
you're better off with Sun's book, or MS MOS. But what you should really do
analyze the products you own and their style of documentation for what

are. If you're looking for books to teach you how to be a writer, or a
writer, Tufte isn't going to do that as he is more into the methodology of
creating illustrations and graphics to help you present your information a
certain way. The best bet to becoming a better writer is to write, and
go to grad school where people pick your writing apart. Tufte's books are
visually appealing, but IMO aren't necessary to your library. And at around

a pop, expensive to boot.

I agree with Guy to get a good dictionary, or do what I do, use

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