Re: Trends for Technical Communicators?

Subject: Re: Trends for Technical Communicators?
From: Tom Lange <Tom_Lange -at- CROW -dot- BMC -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 5 Mar 1996 09:48:49 -0600

1. The need to know multiple tools. I started with a pencil, a
typewriter, an exacto knife, and some form of glue (wax or rubber
cement) for past up. We progressed to phototypesetters, then to word
processors. Each of these was one of a kind. Now we need to know how
to use a desktop publishing tool like FrameMaker or Interleaf, a word
processor like MS Word, online help creation tools like RoboHelp,
hardcopy file to online file conversion tools like Doc to Help, tag
languages like GML, SGML, and HTML, etc. This list can go on and on.

2. Budget problems. As the computer industry matures, the software
developers and engineers have created tools that increase their
productivity. At the same time, the publications part of the
development team have found more ways to publish the information. The
technical writing industry has made some productivity improvements, but
not at the rate of the other components of a product. These
productivity improvements have more than been offset by the time it
takes to publish in more than one media. Development managers see a
reduced budget for the development groups and an increased budget for
the documentation groups. Most development managers do not understand
the cause of this difference. Therefore, the documentation budget is
"squeezed," and salaries are contained.

3. More complex documentation projects. As the computer world continues to try
to give the user an enterprise wide "seamless" environment, the writer must cope
with writing about more and more diverse technical subjects. When I write about
the Distributed Computing Environment (DCE) or about moving data from one
storage system to another, I no longer only write about the one
telecommunication protocol or about a database or file structure. I must write
about multiple databases, multiple file structures, multiple telecommunication
protocols, multiple operating systems, and multiple programming languages. I
must learn enough about all of these technologies to write about them using the
correct terminology in the correct way.

4. Formats are becoming more complex as we learn more about documentation
usability and readability. We must deal, not with one format as of old, with
multiple book sizes and formats and multiple online formats. The best format for
8 1/2 X ll is different than for 7 X 9. The format for online documentation
(books online) is different than helps, which is different than popups, which is
different than bubbles or balloons. And so it goes.

5. Summary, the major trend is that we must know more to do more for less.

Just one Texan's opinion.

Tom Lange
tom_lange -at- ccmail -dot- bmc -dot- com
______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Trends for Technical Communicators?
Author: Binion Amerson <aba -at- OC -dot- COM> at UNIXLINK
Date: 3/1/96 5:02 PM

What trends do you consider affect you today as a Technical Communicator?
Post your answers to TECHWR-L or to me privately. I'll summarize.

I am presenting a talk on trends to attendees of the STC Region 3 Student
Conference being held at Mercer University at the end of March. Your
answers will assist me in preparing for that lecture.


Binion Amerson
Director-Sponsor STC Region 5

Binion Amerson, Senior Technical Writer, OpenConnect Systems, 2711 LBJ,
Suite 800, Dallas, TX 75234, Ph 214/888-0447; Fax 214/484-6100;
E-mail (B): aba -at- oc -dot- com (H): aba -at- unicomp -dot- net STC URL
Director-Sponsor, Society for Technical Communication (STC) Region 5.
Candidate, STC Second Vice President

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