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So far, it's never really happened. There have been a
few times when I was asked to document something from
the specs. I've always been successful when I pointed
out that specs are never up to date with the genuine
state of the product, and that using the UI always
entails steps that are not detailed in the
requirements or the use cases.
You need to ask them, why in the world do they expect
you to not need access to the software? Do they really
believe that you can provide high-quality
documentation of something you can't use? Maybe
they're having a problem with security clearances
needed, or if there is a limited number of seat
licenses or something like that. If their no-need
expectation is based on resource limitations, no big
problem. But if it's based on them thinking you can do
a good job writing about something you can't look at .
. . well, the word for that kind of writing is
"fiction." You might want to check the source of this
expectation because it may indicate a problem in their
understanding of your work process, and that could
cause you other problems later.
Senior (only) tech writer
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