Re: FWD: How much experience for API Writing?

Subject: Re: FWD: How much experience for API Writing?
From: Jan Henning <henning -at- r-l -dot- de>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 8 Mar 2002 14:52:13 +0100

>mostly, I'm interested in how much programming skill a API writer needs. Is
>it enough to read code and know the keywords or do I need an in-depth
>knowledge of the programming language?

IMHO, to write _good_ documentation about an API, you should be able to
write a program using that API. Since 'writing a program' is a bit
ambiguous, let me clarify:

- You should be able to write a program that correctly uses any given API
call (and any given parameter of the call),

- you should be able to debug the program,

- you do not need to be able to write the tightest, fastest, or most
elegant code - just something that works.

If you think that this is a tall order, consider this: For writing
anything (even fiction) well, you need to know you audience. In this
case, your audience are professional programmers. If you cannot put
yourself in their shoes, you have little hope in presenting the
information just as they need it.

An analog might be learning a foreign language and writing for
foreigners: Just because you speak French, it doesn't mean that you could
write a good travel guide to the US for the French market. You need to
have lived in France to know that you need to warn your readers about the
inavailabilty of decent bread outside big citites, the intolerance of
Americans against smoking etc. (Or you need have to assimilated the
culture in a different way, although none really comes to mind.)

Hope this helps
Jan Henning

Jan Henning
Am Schlossberg 14, D-82547 Eurasburg, Germany

Phone: +49 700 0200 0700, Fax: +49 81 79 93 07 12
E-Mail: henning -at- r-l -dot- de, Web:
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