RE: Have to know Programming to be able to write about it? -- NO

Subject: RE: Have to know Programming to be able to write about it? -- NO
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher5 -at- cox -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 25 Feb 2003 19:22:51 -0800

I am an API writer, but I took my first programming class
long before I wrote about my first dev tool. Somebody told
me I couldn't document a bookkeeping system because I didn't
know COBOL. I didn't ever want to give anybody that excuse
again. ;-)

That said, the minute I find out I'm going to be working with
a new language or new technology, the first thing I do is pick
up a book about it so I can learn the concepts and familiarize
myself with the technology. I've got books on distributed
objects, active web pages, network security, C, C++, Java,
Visual Basic, ... and I've left bookmarks planted in all of them! <g>

Any good writer, without knowing anything about the subject
matter, can create a good point-and-click guide. And a lot
of the time, you can pick up enough about <version control/
customer relations management/...> along the way to add
a little value along the way. After all, about 80% of all
commercial software is based on relational database technology,
so you can pick up one after another pretty fast

But if you haven't got a gui, you don't have a prayer of writing
an original word if you don't know something about the subject
matter. You can be a good editor. A good writer can certainly
recognize quality/superfluous information and apply doc organization
techniques,... But think how much better an editor you can be when
you can slide up to a dev and say, "you *can't* _re_-implement a
pure virtual -- it's never been implemented before! DUH!" ;-)

If you want to add value, you have to be willing to learn the

-Sue Gallagher

At 04:27 PM 2/25/2003 -0500, John Posada wrote:

I cannot program. So no, for me, it is not mandatory. However, I don't write
docs that require me to be a programmer.
Therefore, there are many types of documents I cannot write and there are
many types of situations that I cannot apply for.

>writer without programming knowledge is going to
>be less competent to write about programming
>than one who is also a programmer.
>Absolutely not. Any global statement such as "if you don't know X, you

Huh? of COURSE that's true. Common,'s just as true as someone who
cannot speak English cannot write documents for English speakers. Can you
write documentation for someone who only knows Swahili?


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