Re: tool nonsense (gearing up to be a tech writer)

Subject: Re: tool nonsense (gearing up to be a tech writer)
From: Jo Francis Byrd <jbyrd -at- byrdwrites -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 01 May 2001 10:16:35 -0500


Tool knowledge, while important, is secondary to knowing what you're doing, how
to do it. Some years back, I had a contract to rescue an online help system. The
resident tech writer's father had died of cancer, about two weeks before the
go-live deadline. I'd learned both RoboHelp and how to do online help on a
previous job - classic OTJ training. The company had sent the Resident Tech
Writer (RTW) to a RoboHelp training class. She knew the tool a LOT better than I
did, I learned a lot about RH from her. BUT (yes, there's a but in there, you
saw it coming), the RTW didn't know squat about how to do online help. She could
not have created a usable online help system had her children's souls depended
on it. She just did not grasp the concept. She knew the tool, but I understood
the technology. Which is why I'm still doing this and she's gone on to a totally
different career.

Jo Byrd

"Swallow, William" wrote:

> If you're a newbie and are looking to GET A JOB, disregard any of the tools
> preference blabbering on here. Sure, I'm a FrameMaker bigot ;), but when it
> comes down to getting a job and starting your career, take what they got and
> work with it. Learn the tool, whether it's Word, PageMaker, Quark Xpress,
> InDesign, FrameMaker, Interleaf, or some other tool. Learn it, work in it, and
> if after a while you determine there's a better tool out there that will save
> your company time and money on documentation, go for it. Then, you have that
> first tool in your resume tool belt and are on to another tool.
> For what it's worth, and no matter how much people beat the tool drum, toolset
> knowledge comes secondary to tech writing experience/industry experience.
> Sure, I have a shload of tools under my belt, but I didn't learn them all
> before starting work. I accumulated the knowledge over time in a variety of
> working environments. There is never an end-all tool. Sometimes you have to
> put your ego/tool bigotry aside and use the best one for the job.
> I love my new cordless drill, but I doubt I'd use it to mend a leaky pipe.
> Find a job that you think you'll like and forget about what they use for
> documentation. Use their stuff, get the experience, and then if you want make
> an informed recommendation to your boss for a better tool if you find
> one.


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tool nonsense (gearing up to be a tech writer): From: Swallow, William

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