Learning C as a technical writer: IMHO...

Subject: Learning C as a technical writer: IMHO...
From: Patrick O'Connell <titanide -at- MICRO -dot- ORG>
Date: Sun, 12 Nov 1995 22:44:14 -0500

C is used EVERYWHERE. It's the lingua franca of serious (and often
not-so-serious) programming, inasmuch as there is one. If it hasn't
supplanted COBOL as the most-used programming language, period, I predict
that day is very close.

Speaking as someone who has a reading knowledge of C but has never
written a program in it, I say: learn C. Not so you can go after
programming jobs, but so you can go after API documentation jobs, which
(at least here in the Great White North) tend to be better-paying. What
say you members of the great republic to the south, as one newspaper
columnist here likes to describe the U.S.?

I should clarify what I just proclaimed above. The tech writing jobs that
are 100% API documentation are relatively scarce from what I have seen in
three months of unemployment. What knowing C, and having some kind of an
internal map of what goes on at the machine-code level, may give you is an
advantage over someone who doesn't and is gunning for the same position. I
have of late noticed a tendency in Usenet job postings for API-oriented
tech writing to look for not a tech writer with programming experience,
but a programmer.

To do technical writing. Oy!

Knowing C and having written a few programs in it may help you talk the
hiring manager around to hiring you, a technical writer, rather than a
programmer with dubious authorial credentials. I fervently wish it was
something more friendly and less cryptic than C that had become the
universal standard -- like Pascal, for example -- but not being possessed
of a time machine, I can't go back and whisper "PASCAL...Rewrite Pascal!"
in the ears of Dennis Ritchie and Brian Kernighan. Assuming they would
have listened to me, that is. ;-)

promising himself yet again that he will get soon create an honest-to-God
signature file...&^%*$ -at- ! cover letters...

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