Writing an SDK?

Subject: Writing an SDK?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2005 16:57:08 -0400

Siliconwriter wondered: <<I'm starting a new job. The first thing they want me to write is an SDK. I've never written one. I don't even know what they look like, even though I've been documenting software for years. Most of my work has been in support of GUIs and CLIs, but I've never been assigned an SDK or an API. Any suggestions where to start?>>

A great place to start is with the people who are developing the SDK: this is one of the rare cases where the SMEs are actually sufficiently expert in the topic that they can provide useful guidance. Since they are programmers, they use SDKs as part of their daily job, and can point you towards the kinds of resources they find useful. These form a good starting point for your research.

Moreover, you can do what many of us only dream of doing: work with real users of the product to find out how they use it, and thus, what kind of support they need to do their work. Arrange to spend some time with your programmers to find out how they would use the SDK. If they'll actually be using the documentation that you develop as part of their work, they'll love you for caring enough to find out about their needs, and it's never a bad thing to befriend the product developers.

If you need a bit more handholding or enjoy learning a bit about the subject before you risk embarrassing yourself (a small risk, I might add) by talking to the developers, have a look at the following URLs:

The first is a seminar given by Manny Gordon, an STC associate fellow and a well-known and well-respected teacher in the Montreal techwhirler community; if you can't make it to Montreal, he might be travelling to your area at some point in the future. The second is the workbook of this workshop (in case you don't have a travel budget). The third is a DVD version of the workshop that comes with the workbook. All have received very good reviews, and although I haven't taken this specific course, I have taken other courses with Manny that were excellent. (Disclaimer: Manny is a friend, so while I hope I'm being objective, you'll have to ask others on techwr-l for their opinions.)

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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