RE: Programmer/Writers?

Subject: RE: Programmer/Writers?
From: "Leonard C. Porrello" <Leonard -dot- Porrello -at- SoleraTec -dot- com>
To: "Technical Writer" <tekwrytr -at- hotmail -dot- com>, <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2009 08:26:05 -0800

You talk about earning more, etc., and that sounds great. So, I wonder
why the rates listed at the top of you web page are so low:

Visual Basic .NET utility programming and
Rapid Application Development (RAD) - $25/hr
Enterprise Web Design and Development - $20/hr
Technical Writing - Technical Editing - $20/hr

Why the disconnect?


-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+leonard -dot- porrello=soleratec -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+leonard -dot- porrello=soleratec -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- c
om] On Behalf Of Technical Writer
Sent: Saturday, January 24, 2009 11:28 AM
To: ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: Programmer/Writers?

Geoff Hart wrote: <snip>
That's sad to hear, because it means that companies are still foolishly
insisting that one person can do the work of two people. This isn't an
expertise issue imho; it's a simple matter of time. This only makes
sense when you don't have enough work to employ a full-time programmer
or a full-time writer. In that situation, having dual expertise is a
very good solution. But when you have a sustained 80 hours worth of
work, your programmer-writer ends up either burning out, or
accomplishing only half of both jobs.</snip>

Not sad at all. In fact, the opposite; as a "writer/programmer" I get a
higher rate because of my programming skills, while rarely--if
ever--being asked to actually write code. The important thing is that I
understand the code, not that I write it. Specifically, being able to
look at a class, function, subroutine, or test case and understand what
it is supposed to do is a major advantage. It also cuts down
considerably on the time needed to arrive at that understanding by
interpreting the comments of a harried programmer who may or may not be
willing (or able) to clearly explain what the code does.

In the cases that I have been tasked to write code, it has primarily
been as a backup for a team member who is unavailable for one reason or
another. In that case, I function as a "temp" and that normally lasts
only a day or two, until the "regular" programmer returns. The increased
pay is for what I am capable of doing (when necessary), rather than what
I actually do.

In the instances when the title has been "programmer/writer," (rather
than "writer/programmer"), coding is my primary job function, and the
"writing" part is primarily descriptive comments in the code, using
JavaDocs or something similar. That is, rather than the XP tendency to
avoid writing comments ("documentation") entirely during the development
process, "programmer/writers" are expected to document their code
competently enough that another programmer can look at their work and
understand almost instantly what they were doing, why they were doing
it, and what needs to be done next.

I have (perhaps fortunately) never been required to do the work of two
people, or to work longer hours without compensation (as a "salaried"
employee exempt from overtime constraints), or anything remotely like
it. Programming skill puts me on an equal footing with the developers,
who are able to "explain" their code one programmer to another, rather
than as a programmer explaining his or her code to a "civilian." I am in
much the same position in dealing with executives, courtesy of three
years of graduate school majoring in management. Specifically, I don't
need an interpreter to understand business, in the same way that I don't
need an interpreter to understand row locking code in a database

Some years ago, Inkos dumped $25 million that it had invested in a pilot
program to implement SAP software because their personnel lacked the
skill to use (or, apparently, even to understand) the software without
an endless parade of $300 an hour ERP consultants holding their hands
and doing most of the work. For such companies, an additional $30 to $50
an hour for someone with specialized expertise in the field is a trivial
expense. I like that.
Thanks - Specializing in cost-effective technical
documentation, online content, and web development for growing


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RE: Programmer/Writers: From: Technical Writer
Programmer/Writers?: From: Geoff Hart
RE: Programmer/Writers?: From: Technical Writer

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