Re: document your job?

Subject: Re: document your job?
From: Julie Stickler <jstickler -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2012 16:35:01 -0400

I self-document things for a number of reasons.

Mostly for myself. I will work on projects, get away from them for a
while, and then when I come back I can't remember why I did things.
And it saves my own time if I don't have to reverse engineer things.
Or maybe there's some problem I need to solve and I can't remember
what solutions I've already tried? So then I can avoid trying things
and then remembering that solution X, Y, and Z didn't work the last
time either...

I once inherited a VM library from a product manager who left the
company. I knew the most of the logins (VM, Windows, product, etc.)
but at some point I needed to do something in Oracle, and had no idea
what the Oracle admin ID or password were. I e-mailed the product
manager who created the VMs and he didn't have any idea either. Ever
since then, there's a text file in each of my VMs with all the
passwords. Because I don't really care if someone can get into my
test machine, but I sure as heck care if I lock myself out!

I document things for other writers. To let them know where things
are, why design decisions were made, how the pieces of a complex
project fit together. I've written plenty of training for other
writers in my same group, so that we can all follow the same
processes. It makes it easier to pick up a project if the files have
the same naming conventions, directory structures match, etc.

And then there's the fact that where I live, the world of technical
writers is a small community. So even if I'm laid off somewhere, you
never know who eventually replaced you. And what they might say about
the state that you left your files in. I got internally transferred
once, and the writer who took over for me told me how nice it was to
work on my projects, because everything was not only clean and well
organized, but I'd left enough breadcrumbs for her to pick up where I
left off.

Julie Stickler
Blogging about Agile and technical writing

Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with Doc-To-Help. Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need.

Try Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.


You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-leave -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Looking for articles on Technical Communications? Head over to our online magazine at

Looking for the archived Techwr-l email discussions? Search our public email archives @


document your job?: From: Editor in Chief
RE: document your job?: From: Dan Goldstein
RE: document your job?: From: McLauchlan, Kevin

Previous by Author: Re: FrameMaker 10/Adobe Acrobat Question
Next by Author: Re: Careers For People Who Don't Like People
Previous by Thread: RE: document your job?
Next by Thread: Re: document your job?

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads