Re: Recipies as technical writing?

Subject: Re: Recipies as technical writing?
From: Daniel Klotz <danielklotz -at- juno -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 2006 10:25:05 -0400

I agree with those standing up for recipes as technical writing. I enjoy cooking and using high-tech stuff equally, but I'd rather RTFC (cookbook) than RTFM, given the choice.

For one, cookbooks make it so easy to dive right in. You don't have to read ten pages about bread to get to the part where you start measuring flour and stirring the yeast. If you don't understand what you're doing, you refer to another section in the cookbook where measuring and techniques and terms are explained.

Of course, there are a lot of crappy cookbooks and many good manuals. I guess my wish is just that more manuals made it easy to get started. When's the last time you saw a recipe that was on the level of a "hello world" program? I can imagine it:

1 T granulated sugar
2 c water

Get out a measuring cup for liquids. Most are clear glass or plastic with graduated measurement level lines on the outside, and most have a simple handle. If you do not have a liquids measuring cup, you can find one at any grocery or department store in the cooking utensils section. From your kitchen faucet, fill the cup to the 2 cup mark with cold water. Set the measuring cup on the counter, and look at it from the side, with your eye level at the level of the 2 cup mark. Add more water or pour out a little water if you do not have enough water or have too much, so that what remains is exactly 2 cups of cold water.

Then, using a measuring spoon (you can find a set at any grocery or department store) marked "Tablespoon" or with a capital "T," scoop out a spoonful of granulated sugar (the kind with a consistency similar to table salt). Use a table knife to level the spoonful but scraping the straight edge of the knife across the top of the spoon (see illustration 1.a.). Dump the sugar into the measuring cup full of water. Using a plastic spoon or a table spoon, stir the mixture in a clockwise direction twelve times. Pause, then stir in the reverse direction (counter-clockwise) twelve more times. Let the mixture settle.

You now have sugar water! Congratulations, you are now ready to move on to a more complex recipe.

The point is, no one wants to make sugar water, just as no one wants to write a "hello world" program. Recipe books have caught on to this; manuals, in general, haven't. :-)


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Re: TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 6, Issue 18 - recipies as technical writing: From: wsfn
Recipies as technical writing?: From: Geoff Hart

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