Re: Essential software/programming skills for TC?

Subject: Re: Essential software/programming skills for TC?
From: Bill Swallow <techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: Phil <philstokes03 -at- googlemail -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 2010 09:33:35 -0500

Hi Phil,

Honestly, focus on XML technologies. Most of the editors are easy to
ramp up with so long as you know how XML authoring should work. Look
at DITA, which is NOT a one size fits all solution but a big buzzword
technology, and also look at some of the many techcomm-focused CMS
tools out there. I've always found that knowledge in the technology
end of writing far surpasses tools knowledge.

As for programming, it really depends on what type of job market
you're targeting. I could suggest learning some basic C# and Java, but
you might never use it. One geek tech you should familiarize yourself
with, though, is SQL. Another good one to get your feet wet with is
JavaScript. You are more likely going to run across a need to know
something about these on the job than other specific languages,
whether it's related to the product you're documenting or the tools
you're using to document them.

If you know the tech, you can learn the tool very easily. That was my
approach starting out, and it's steered me right so far.


On Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 6:44 AM, Phil <philstokes03 -at- googlemail -dot- com> wrote:
> While I accept that in some sense this 'unanswerable' being dependent on employers/industries, I would nevertheless appreciate opinions on the following:
> What are the essential software/programming skills a new tech communicatior MUST possess?
> To give some context, I've been a 'writer' in various capacities for many years, needing little other than Word to do my work. Now in my 40s, I'm "retraining" in the sense of doing an MA in Tech Comm. While the MA is great for the 'soft' skills (theory of ID, Comm Planning, Audience Analysis, Usability etc) I find myself overwhelmed when looking at the trade in the variety of software/programming skills discussed. To name a few: QuarkXP, InDesign, Framemaker, Flare, RoboHelp, Dreamweaver, XML, Html, Java, Python, various C languages, Json, JQuery - and those are just off the top of my head.
> Which, if any of these (and if not these, what else?) can I _NOT_ afford to have missing from my CV/Resume?
> n.b. I know there are many other essential skills for being a TC that have nothing to do with software/programming, but I am pretty well aware of those already. Likewise, 'ability to learn any of the above quickly' is something I also recognise, but I'd appreciate specific answers to the question.

Bill Swallow

Twitter: @techcommdood

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Essential software/programming skills for TC?: From: Phil

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