RE: Quality of source material from Development

Subject: RE: Quality of source material from Development
From: "walden miller" <wmiller -at- vidiom -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 14:05:02 -0700

> is tricky to make mandatory, when frequently you are documenting in
> parallel with the development of the product. At least, that's always
> my experience... I'd love to work someplace where they finished the
> with a deadline that left plenty of time to get the documentation done!

Part of being an expert user/tester is understanding the technical
landscape enough to anticipate the general concept and design of features
before they are complete. Thus, the writer is able to structure the
material to accommodate new features or changes to existing ones.

Yes, it should be mandatory for a technical writer to be an expert-level
user/tester of the products/technologies he/she is documenting.

Andrew Plato

The other part of being an expert is to recognize that when a product is
being developed, the engineers are developing their expertise as well. If
you are working with the engineers from the design on you will be up to
speed as they come up to speed.

If you are brought in at the end (often an issue with contractors), then not
only do you have to have experience in similar products (in that
industry--whatever it is), but you need to be a fast learner and an
excellent interviewer. no matter what you get (option 1,2,3,4...), you will
need to immerse yourself in the product.

I would never assume that whatever the engineers give me is enough (it has
happened, but I would be very surprised if it happens again).


O--to reinforce Andrew's comments about structure. A good writer will
always structure a document to allow expansion. I also agree with Andrew's
other comments on expertise, but think he stops too soon. Anticipation,
absorption, correlation to existing knowledge, a full writer's bag of
tricks, interviewing skills, etc. Getting good specs is nice, but don't
depend on it.

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submit your manuscript to iUniverse Nov. 6 -Dec. 15 and get five free copies of
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Have you looked at the new content on TECHWR-L lately?
See and check it out.

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Re: Quality of source material from Development: From: Andrew Plato

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