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I'd say, many tools cause the process to not be 100% repeatable. Many
deadlines cause the process to change, if not the final format. These
things are transparent to the reader . . . sort of . . . in that the
reader might know they want more content, but not why the content is
absent, or the reader might question a certain formatting of content,
but not know why the format is that way, or the reader might desire a
more thorough index, but not understand the issues surrounding the index
creation. Certainly, the design of the docs, the decision to include and
exclude certain things, the availability of resources for content
creation, formatting, content delivery, are things that must be
negotiated for many projects, negotiations which are an art or craft,
which ultimately are a part of the documentation process, and which
affect the reader, even though the reader is not explicitly told about
Software Documentation Specialist
Haestad Methods http://www.haestad.com
From: Phil Levy [mailto:PLevy -at- epion -dot- com]
Sent: Friday, June 21, 2002 3:54 PM
To: Sean Brierley; TECHWR-L
Subject: RE: craft vs. science
Aren't you talking about tools? Why can't the process stay be the same?
a deadline change a process, or the final format? These things are
transparent to the reader.
From: Sean Brierley [mailto:sbri -at- haestad -dot- com]
And, yes, the process is sort of scientific, until you toss in the
variables, deadlines, resources, flaky software, and judgement of
document (online and printed) design . . .. I'd say, there's an art, if
not a craft, to the science of technical
writing. If you disagree, try writing a 600-page software manual, using
section numbers, lots of numbered lists, TOC, IX, in MS Word, and then
port it to online help via RoboHelp . . . you'll see that craftiness and
workarounds and intelligent application of your skills become a
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