RE: Technical Documentation solutions?

Subject: RE: Technical Documentation solutions?
From: "Wilcox, Rose (ZB5646)" <Rose -dot- Wilcox -at- pinnaclewest -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 2002 14:13:44 -0700

I am surprised nobody else offered an opinion on this. Clearly, it
doesn't rise to the level of one versus two spaces or FrameMaker versus
Word, but is there no thoughts, offerings, or opinions on:

1) Automatic creation of content.
2) Technical writing without technical writers.
3) Technical writing duties not affecting the core responsibilities or
time of SMEs, engineers, analysts?

Maybe my thoughts are offbase. Say, is the subjunctive appropriate for a
user guide written in the third phase of the moon using Volkswriter?

I was just thinking...hmmm...almost a troll in posting guise. Shall I
rise to the challenge? Nah, plenty on the list will do it for me.
1) I didn't follow the thread close enough to know the type of documents
being automated. The only systems I have seen for automatic creation of
content have relied heavily on developer's comments in the code.
Developers range from about 1% that comment copiously and with some
quality to the 10% that comment well sometimes but often don't comment
to the 79% that comment poorly some of the time to the 10% that comment
not at all. So I know *that* doesn't work.
2) I do see LOTS of technical writing without technical writers. Most
of it makes the reader say "Hmmm?" Unfortunately, some tech writing
WITH technical writers makes the reader say, "Hmmm?"
3) "Not affecting the core responsibilities" is such a vague phase. If
writing duties are by definition not core responsibilities than does
"not affecting" mean taking zero time? Or is some minor percentage of
time acceptable? What about the affect on core responsibilities of NOT
having something documented? The time techies spend researching
previously existing systems that are not properly documented is not
measured. Would the time spent making coding comments or filling in a
template for proper documentation be less than the time spent in
interviews with a tech writer? None of this stuff is objective.
Therefore, anything said about it is antedotcal at best.

Rosie Wilcox

Rosie Wilcox

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