Re: Which skill to acquire

Subject: Re: Which skill to acquire
From: Ryan Haber <ryan -dot- haber -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "Stuckey, Ginger" <X2BVSHEW -at- southernco -dot- com>, TECHWR-L Writing <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2017 22:01:45 +0000

Hey Ginger,

Hmmm... skills I've picked up on while documenting APIs... I wouldn't go to
a wall over it, but here's my first thoughts:

1. *Coding* - just like if you really want to document a user app well, you
have to understand it and play with it, to document APIs well, you have to
understand them and play with them. Also, the API equivalent of a screen
shot is a code sample. You can always bum them off the devs if they're
free, but...

2. *Debugging* - because that's part of coding. It also has helped me think
more methodically. Debugging has gone from being misery to being fun,
because it's like detective work.

Specifically, I have gone from very simple Javascript writing to much more
sophisticated projects, though not yet anything on the scale of an
engineered product. But I think I'm no longer just goofy around with code
and kinda getting it. I've also learned a good deal more about *internet
connectivity*, *client/server* relations, and *REST* as an approach to
APIs. I've gotten pretty good at *linux*. If you learn to code and document
APIs, you will definitely get good at whatever operating system your
software sits on.

I've gotten much better at *audience analysis* because we have customers
who are amazing engineers and we have customers who have no business
calling themselves programmers at all, and yet, I have to write docs that
help as many as possible.

My experience working in a startup has added to the above skills because we
are a small-ish company and nobody does one thing. I also serve on the
escalation path for customer support if tech services can't answer a
question about our APIs and help with the product management of our APIs by
relating my experience in using them, so add to that list, in my case:

3. Customer service / client relations

4. Product evaluation, clear requirements writing

So these acquired skills are opening up for me three paths for my career,
all of which have pro's and some of which interest me intensely. They also
all pay more than tech writing normally does:

* Sales Engineering - these folks are not usually engineers but salespeople
who are engineer-y. Like API tech writers or customer support.

* Consulting / Professional Services - a lot of what ours (at least) do is
not engineering a whole new product, but rather making our product work
within a given set of parameters or with a given platform or product. This
usually means hacking a fix, workaround, or script to connect things
together, and that always means understanding the relevant APIs well.

* Product management - you could get into product management without
knowing any APIs, but in the world of software development, a knowledge of
the constraints and possibilities offered by APIs is generally handy.

That's my initial thoughts. Anyone else have any?

- R


On Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 8:55 AM Stuckey, Ginger <X2BVSHEW -at- southernco -dot- com>
wrote:

> Ryan,
> Would you please expand on the "skills that are themselves in demand or
> gratifying to develop."? I've never written API documentation but it
> intrigues me. Plus I like to keep expanding my skills.
>
> Ginger Stuckey
> Technical Writer
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: techwr-l-bounces+x2bvshew=southernco -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:
> techwr-l-bounces+x2bvshew=southernco -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of
> Ryan Haber
> Sent: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 7:44 AM
> To: Monique Semp <monique -dot- semp -at- earthlink -dot- net>; Lois Patterson <
> loisrpatterson -at- gmail -dot- com>; Robert Slack <robslackjr -at- gmail -dot- com>
> Cc: TECHWR-L Writing <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
> Subject: Re: Which skill to acquire
>
> I document APIs for my job. There are a lot of projects out there on
> GitHub, for instance, that desperately need documentation so it's easy to
> get involved. Writing API docs requires and builds a few skills that are
> themselves in demand or gratifying to develop.
>
> As more and more software companies add into their business model
> interactivity with others' software, APIs get more and more important.
>
>
> On Tue, Mar 21, 2017, 23:13 Monique Semp <monique -dot- semp -at- earthlink -dot- net>
> wrote:
>
> > >I recommend looking at API documentation, and more generally
> > developer-focused documentation.
> >
> > Yes, API and dev-docs are an ideal specialized/marketable skill, with
> > lots of new contacts, and lots of very interesting things to work on!
> >
> > For excellent info, both overview and very technical, I highly
> > recommend checking out
> > * Write the Docs: http://www.writethedocs.org/, and the Slack network,
> > which has multiple channels, http://www.writethedocs.org/slack/.
> >
> > Looking forward to everyone's ideas about today's skills, -Monique
> >
> >
> >
> > ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
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> and
> > content development | http://techwhirl.com
> >
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> --
>
> All the best,
> Ryan
>
> --
> Ryan Haber
> About.me/ryanhaber
> 301-908-3049 <(301)%20908-3049>
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> Visit TechWhirl for the latest on content technology, content strategy and
> content development | http://techwhirl.com
>
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--

All the best,
Ryan

--
Ryan Haber
About.me/ryanhaber
301-908-3049
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References:
Which skill to acquire: From: Robert Slack
Re: Which skill to acquire: From: Lois Patterson
Re: Which skill to acquire: From: Monique Semp
Re: Which skill to acquire: From: Ryan Haber
RE: Which skill to acquire: From: Stuckey, Ginger

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