Re: Suggestions for professional development

Subject: Re: Suggestions for professional development
From: Jeff Hanvey <jeff -at- jewahe -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 05:13:57 -0700 (PDT)

First of all, congrats on the enviable position. Definitely take the time to improve your skills.

First of all, I would suggest that you take the time to develop (or redevelop) your skills with FrameMaker and Word. I would also suggest you invest some time in RoboHelp. These are the "Big Three" in technical writing, and what you'll most likely find listed in your job description.

Programming skills would be useful, but you must realize that Javascript is a different language than Java. Both are object-oriented, but Java is a high-end tool used mainly to code actual programs, whereas Javascript is more of a macro-type tool, used to simplify tasks and run "quick" tasks (Java programs generally have to be compiled, where as Javascript can be run from just about anywhere).

Before you take the time to learn Javascript, I'd take the time to learn HTML and a database application (Access, FileMaker Pro, SQL), since javascript is most often used in these applications.

If you really want to learn a programming language, then you probably should learn whatever's being used at your current job. If none is used, then I'd suggest you start with Visual Basic, since it is fairly easy to learn. Java and the C languages tend to be more high-end, and can be more difficult to understand, especially if you don't already have a programming background.

My standard advice to tech writers: To get marketable skills, go to the market. Read the job ads in your area, determine what skills the companies are asking for, and develop them. That way, if no projects drop, and you find yourself out of work, you will stand a better chance of getting another position immediately.

Oh - and be sure your portfolio reflects your new skills. As you learn RoboHelp, for example, actually do a small project or two (even if it is just a help file for the next tech writer at your company. You can even try to recast the policies and procedures manual into electronic form for the company's intranet, if one exists).

Good luck!

--- "Ilana Cohney" <ilanac -at- gentrack -dot- com> wrote:
>Any suggestions? I thought about learning Java script over th=
>e Net, I am not a programmer though. Is it feasible to learn JAVA script by=
> myself. What other skills (applications) can I learn that will stand me i=
>n good stead for my future?

Jeff Hanvey:

Promote your group and strengthen ties to your members with email -at- yourgroup -dot- org by

Check out the new release of RoboDemo, our easy-to-use tutorial software.
Plus, buy RoboHelp Office in August and save $100 with our mail-in rebate.
Get details and download free trial versions at

Absolutely FREE! FrameMaker/Win 6 & 7 Express Customization (v3):
Quick-access buttons & keys to common functions, char tag/font drop-down
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