Re: Managing Engineers (long)

Subject: Re: Managing Engineers (long)
From: Ceri Williams <ceriw -at- bigfoot -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 17:06:32 -0500

Andrew Plato wrote:

> --- Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com> wrote:
> > Another thing: technical writers who don't have some knowledge of
> > code - even a limited one - may be at the mercy of what developers
> > bother, choose, or remember to tell them. Not only is this
> > dependency another reason why developers may despise writers, but it
> > means that, in some cases, you can never know first hand whether you
> > are doing a good job or not. This dependency is frustrating and
> > inconvenient.
> YES! This is exactly what I meant when I said "anticipate issues."
> I cannot tell you how many times the engineers managed to "forget" to tell me
> something. However, because I understand how they built the product and what it
> does, when I see something new, I can anticipate their changes and as such
> confront them first. This DRAMATICALLY cuts down on the time it takes me to get
> information because I can ascertain a lot of it myself.

> Similar to what Bruce said, it also lets me get the jump on how users might
> object to such a change and discuss the issue with the engineers before it is
> cemented in their heads. A lot of the complains tech writers have about
> engineers ignoring their UI suggestions are because the tech writers don't
> anticipate the UI change until it is too late.
> Andrew Plato

Programing knowledge is not the only way to achieve this - with business knowledge
I know what the end user needs to do, and from writing for numerous applications in
multiple business areas I know how many different applications work.

I have even at times pointed out functionality to programmers that they were not
aware existed.

All this with no programming knowledge.

I'm not saying programming knowledge is not useful. It is one tool, one of many. A
good Technical Writer should have many such tools, and should use as many of them
as possible, or they run the risk of becoming too specialised themselves, and
unable to act as interpreter, or my preferred analogy, bridge, between
programmer/application and end user.

Ceri Williams
cwilliams -at- basis100 -dot- com
These are my personal views, not necessarily the views of my company

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