Re: Most Important Programs to Learn

Subject: Re: Most Important Programs to Learn
From: Steven Owens <uso01 -at- MAILHOST -dot- UNIDATA -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1993 12:15:57 -0600

> I have a quick question to the working world out there. What
> programs are essential for a new worker in the Professional
> Writing world to know?

It is sad, but true, that the software you know how to work with
is often a strong factor in the hiring process. This applies not
only to the desktop publishing software, but also to the actual
environment (I.e. DOS, Windows, Mac, UNIX, Xwindows).

The reason behind this is, quite simply, that in today's market many
people feel that they "don't have time to train somebody" and want to
just hire you and let you work. In the computer industry, this is
referred to as "turnkey solutions" (turn the key and it goes) or "plug
and play" (plug it in and away you go).

Something I heard a year and half ago, just before I was hired for my
current job, was that it was easy to get a technical writing job (in a
town I'd spent two years hunting for one) IF you knew FrameMaker. I
guess I should feel reassured that I now know framemaker, but that
general attitude is rather treacherous to deal with if you're on the
receiving end.

If you're pretty much a novice, my advice is, "as much as you can,
these are the tools of your trade." Besides showing you're
well-equipped to use whatever software they're using, it also shows
adaptability and your comfort with the technological environment.

Specifically, well, the earlier comments about learning the basics
of word processing, graphics, and such, are quite good. If you can,
I'd suggest learning FrameMaker and Interleaf (two big ones in the
workstation world, getting bigger in the pc/mac world). You could
also learn PageMaker (relatively simple) and Quark Express (more
complex, but also has a strong reputation). This might make you
reasonably well-equipped to deal with whatever environment they
throw at you.

Desktop publishing in general seems to lean heavily in favor of the
MacIntosh. Lots of the software out there is for the Mac. On the
other hand, this means that you might be a bigger fish in a smaller
pond if you're familiar with the IBMpc and UNIX software. And these
days, the crossover from one platform to another seems to be more
common (Frame is out for IBMpc, Mac, and UNIX, for example - this may
make it a strong contender for your purposes. There's also a framers
mailing list you can get on for advice).

Steven J. Owens
uso01 -at- unidata -dot- com

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