Re: So what do technical writers DO,

Subject: Re: So what do technical writers DO,
From: John Veneruso <johnv -at- JOHNV -dot- MENTORG -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1993 00:04:58 GMT

I can tell you what I do...But I'm not sure if it is representative
of even a small minority of "Technical Writers."

I write user manuals and training workbooks for EDA
(Electronic Design Automation) tools. However, writing
is just a portion of my job. I track down software engineers
and question them on a routine basis to discover the functionality
of tools that do not always work intuitively. Since I describe
the functionality of software for Schematic Capture, Design
Simulation, and ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit)
designs, I must spend a portion of my time keeping up to date
with the technical literature. (My BS in Electrical Engineering
helps out immensely in this regard) I also use the EDA tools on
a regular basis.

Because our Marketing department does not want to spend the time
to get to know the customers' documentation and training needs,
I expend a great amount of energy performing basic market research.
(phone interviews, surveys, questionaires, etc.). Once I have
constructed a customer profile, I write the documentation plan or
proposal. After meeting with other groups and departments throughout the
company, I begin the execution of the "revised" plan.

During project execution everything changes. Key personell resign
or hire-on. Software functional specs are revised or ignored.
Sometimes the market we thought we were serving no longer looks
profitable or worthwhile. (Or another fire rears its ugly head)
So I must be constantly flexible and vigilant. Otherwise, I will
never complete anything, or worse, I will finish a worthless
document. (It may look pretty, but be only fit for recycling)

As I write, I must confer with others in my department to
create acceptable definitions of new terminology, and ensure that
complex concepts reinforce each other. One of the most difficult
tasks is to make documentation that is generated by over 70 writers
look and read like it was written by a single, very knowledgable person.
Documentation people at my company regulary review each others work
to ensure that we maintain a high level of consistency.

Of course perfection is never attained, only strived for.

Good luck...


Standard Disclaimer:
The views expressed in this e-mail are entirely my own
and are not the views of Mentor Graphics Corp.

Send replies to: john_veneruso -at- mentorg -dot- com

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