Re: Longhorn - Tech writing changes

Subject: Re: Longhorn - Tech writing changes
From: Dick Margulis <margulisd -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 09 Jul 2004 05:47:35 -0400

chevotilburg -at- postmaster -dot- co -dot- uk wrote:

What interests me is:
"Tech Writers Need to Change

This may be a difficult time of adjustment for tech writers, who typically
spend months meticulously documenting every nuance of an application. Wake
up, folks! Nobody reads it.

But it gets worse. Authoring in MAML XML is very different from authoring
in Word or HTML (which have presentation elements). Some authors find it
difficult to adjust to the transition.

But many authors do fine. This quote sums up UI/UA design for me. "The
goal of the UI designer is to put the Help author out of a job". This from
a Microsoft Help author and team leader who I highly respect. You don't
need to document everything."

The author being quoted equates tech writing with help authoring (perhaps that is the view from the author's cubicle). Obviously, though, a great many of us techwrlers have been happily working with Web applications for the last few years and are in agreement that much of the user guidance can move directly to the UI rather than being a click away in help. In companies that embrace this model, tech writers work directly with UI designers or, in some cases, take on the UI design task.

In sufficiently complex applications, there will still be a need for help; and, in any case, software user guidance is not the only or necessarily the most important thing tech writers write.

All in all, I would say there is nothing controversial in the quoted passage.


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