RE: API doc question

Subject: RE: API doc question
From: Chris Despopoulos <despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 5 Mar 2010 05:29:25 -0800 (PST)

Wow Kieth,

It sounds like you have lots to be proud of. If you had answered that question the way you described your API docs here, who knows... Maybe you would have gotten the job and maybe not, but you would feel certainly differently about the interview. It sounds like you rose to the challenge and delivered in spades. That alone shows a host of marketable skills.

I suggest, if you have the spare time, you go back and think over this project so you can describe it in as much detail as you need for the moment. The project shows that you can and do learn what you're writing about, and you can and do implement solutions to problems. That's valuable whether you're writing API docs or not. (And I've inherited too many projects that showed neither on the part of the previous writer.)

Probably your biggest strike against you for API docs is how long ago you did this. API writing has matured, and thinking about what to deliver has evolved. If you want to work as an API writer, I suggest you dig in and use some different APIs. Your past work was pretty low-level -- Java packages. That's good, in my opinion. Maybe you should get Eclipse and some Java tutorials, and get familiar with developing. Java's not too daunting (easier than C++), and much of the language is an assembly of different APIs. There you go. Or you could dig into Google's web APIs and see how it works for these. And while you do it, think critically about the docs. Do they really help? How much of your learning is related to the API vs your need to learn about the underlying technology? How much should the docs cover the underlying technology?

Anyway, good luck. I guess this is a lesson learned -- value your past work, and keep it handy in your pocket. In this case, your work was pretty darned valuable!



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