Re: technical Writing Skills

Subject: Re: technical Writing Skills
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- STARBASECORP -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 1995 13:26:22 -0800

> On Wed, 8 Feb 1995 15:40:46 GMT, Mean Green Dancing Machine (aahz -at- netcom -dot- com)
> wrote :

> > part because I was able to get the programmer to change the product
> > design in certain ways that made it easier to document.

To which Matt Harmon replied:
> Meaning no disrespect but, shouldn't a good technical writer be able to
> get around any aspects that make a product difficult to document? This is
> what's always been expected of me (English major, Computer Information Systems
> minor and documentation specialist for a local computer/network project).
> No-one ever said this job was easy--that's why tech writers are
> compensated as they are.

Just because a good tech wirter *can* get around any aspects that
make a product difficult to document doesn't mean "s/h/it" *should*
;-) (you can read that with or without the slashes)

Well organized and well written documentation can point out subtle
flaws in a process. By making that documentation appear to be less
well written or less well organized, we can attempt to hide product
flaws. In the environment in which we work, this *may* be necessary --
but this may not necessarily be the best approach.

For example...
In a text-based program I once documented, I wrote the procedure
for a routine. I then copied that procedure and started making
changes to it for a similar function elsewhere in the program.
Then I noticed that the exit routines were different for the
two sections of the program -- a difference that was totally
unnecessary. I could have just changed the docs and let it go.
But I went to the programmer and showed him what I'd found and
he changed the program instead -- very willingly, I might add.

In a gui product I documented, I asked why the option buttons
that activated a text field were under the field instead of
on top of it. They got moved.

A good technical writer can add value to a product in lots of
different ways -- not just with words.

Sue Gallagher
StarBase Corp, Irvine CA
sgallagher -at- starbasecorp -dot- com

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