Re: Current trends in Authoring Tools?

Subject: Re: Current trends in Authoring Tools?
From: ct <straylightsghost -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 2007 13:02:39 -0700 need to brawl. I see your point. We're just looking from
different mountain tops.


Perhaps we should all define what type of writing we do before we
fight over the tools. Hmmm...


On 2/8/07, Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com> wrote:

ct wrote:
> The main tool? Skill and Talent. Everything else can be learned.
> I'm REALLY going to PO a few people here...ready?

You're right. But now I'm REALLY REALLY going to PO a few. Brace
yourself, laddie.

> FrameMaker? RoboHelp? NOT brain surgery. 80% of what needs to be
> done can be learned in a good weekend of sit-down, hands on study.

Like you, I agree that learning a documentation tool is something most
of us could do independently while ramping up on a project. Why do so
many recruiters and hiring managers have a cow when good candidates,
when asked directly, reveal that they don't have the exact tool experience?

> Will knowing these programs a Tech Writer make?

No, but knowing the tools AND the audience might.

> No.
> Command of the language at hand? Be that language English, Chinese,
> Hebrew, Pig Latin...THAT, my friends is what makes us Technical
> Writers.

I suppose you could define tech writers that way, but I like a more
functional definition that respects the need also for fluent cognitive
language skills. You might have touched on this as "skills and talent"
but it deserves some explict airing as a tech writing thing: I'm
talking about the sketchy language skills that tech writers use to make
information readily translatable into the user's mentalese. Cognitive
language skills are the skills that make a writer someone who can
capture and present good technical information to someone who will
recognize it for what it is. Compare that to a well-written document
that contains all the necessary information, but users' eyes glaze over
at the sight of it.

If you accept my definition, then you'll allow, as technical writers,
some pretty marginal writers who flout really good English. For me, at
least, I think that this acceptance is a foregone conclusion. Before
someone throws a chair, consider the following example.

A Case in point: SMEs and engineers who are writing for their peers.
We (titled tech writers) read what they've written, our jaw drops so
hard it breaks the spring, and we wonder how anyone could ever follow
what is written. We're absolutely certain that we can improve it, and
that no one could take the right meaning from it as is. But the authors
of such material know their audience, and through bad writing, they can
transfer knowledge efficiently and effectively to them. May the gods
hinder me in my progress if I am wrong: they are technical writers. I
wouldn't even bother to distinguish between Technical Writer and
technical writer--they're doing what we're supposed to be able to do,
and that's why companies can sneak by without technical writers.

OK, brawl on if you wanna.

Ned Bedinger
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com

"Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human
soul in this world--and never will."

Mark Twain

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Current trends in Authoring Tools?: From: ct
Re: Current trends in Authoring Tools?: From: Joe Malin
Re: Current trends in Authoring Tools?: From: ct
Re: Current trends in Authoring Tools?: From: Ned Bedinger

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