RE: Why should I be worried about the merger?

Subject: RE: Why should I be worried about the merger?
From: "Leanne Rollins" <leannerollins -at- rogers -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 19 Apr 2005 08:40:50 -0400

I don't covet tools, but I do have my comfort zones. The tool I use is
important... if I know a tool really well, I can focus entirely on WRITING,
rather than on getting the software to do what I need it to (styles,
structure, etc.).

When I first started out, I used Quark on the Mac. Man, I loved Quark. It
had this great "collect for output" feature that I miss dearly and would
love to see any other program implement. But, Quark didn't handle
conditional text, so I did some research and switched to Frame (for the
mac). The company then had an epiphany about the future of Apple, and
switched to PC's (arrgh!), so we used Frame on the PC. That's about the time
we also started creating windows help, so RH win version was the choice.

I then switched companies, and used Word for about 6 months. After painfully
trying to create large books, we invested in Frame. It saved us much agony,
BUT the new writers on my team found the learning curve very large. They
struggled with the layers idea (body, master, reference). Then, we decided
to put everything online, and switched everything to Dreamweaver. I changed
teams, where everything they produced was in Word, and we quickly switched
everything to Frame, for the same reasons as when I first got to the

For some of my contract jobs (while also working full-time), clients
insisted on Word, so Word it was. Others already had a copy of Pagemaker,
so that was the tool of choice.

Now that I am a freelancer, I do one of two things:
1) find out what the company's docs team is using, and do the same
2) if they have no docs team, make a recommendation for the format based on
my needs assessment.

So there you have it. Many tools over time. BUT, I am about 30% more
productive when working in Dreamweaver or Frame than I am with Word and
RoboHelp. I think in terms of structure, and Word and RH just weren't
designed for that.

If Dreamweaver ever went away, I would cry a river.



On Tuesday, April 19, 2005 7:55 AM Bill Swallow wrote:

Of note, I'm finding it interesting that so many people covet the
tools they use so much, and it's making me wonder if tech writers are
more specializing in tools use these days than technology or
methodology. I wonder this because if you know the technology you're
working with/in and you know the methods necessary to get your tech
writing job done based on the technology, then you have what you need
to succeed no matter what you need to use.

It's interesting to juxtapose this thread with the threads about rates
and "technical secretaries" and respect and the like. They all feed
into each other and really do paint an interesting picture of our
profession's landscape.

For kicks I asked a few buddies of mine (developers) what they'd do if
Borland's tools or some of the Java IDEs suddenly went away. The
echoed response was startling... "I'd use somethign else."

So let me put this out there... Why are we so different, and what is
it about our jobs, our profession, that makes us so heavily dependent
on and attached to tools?


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Re: Why should I be worried about the merger?: From: Bill Swallow

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