Trends for Technical Communicators?

Subject: Trends for Technical Communicators?
From: Alexander Von_obert <avobert -at- TWH -dot- MSN -dot- SUB -dot- ORG>
Date: Mon, 11 Mar 1996 20:39:00 +0100

Hello Tom,

* Antwort auf eine Nachricht von Tom Lange an All am 05.03.96

TL> From: Tom Lange <Tom_Lange -at- crow -dot- bmc -dot- com>

TL> 1. The need to know multiple tools.

TL> 2. Budget problems. As the computer industry matures, the
TL> software
TL> developers and engineers have created tools that increase
TL> their
TL> productivity.

Re-usable code blocks, graphical developement environments, object-oriented

TL> The
TL> technical writing industry has made some productivity
TL> improvements, but
TL> not at the rate of the other components of a product.

Only to true!

TL> Development managers see a
TL> reduced budget for the development groups and an increased
TL> budget for
TL> the documentation groups. Most development managers do
TL> not understand
TL> the cause of this difference.

I also fear this growing gap and have hardly any idea that really would
increase my productivity ten times. :-(

TL> 3. More complex documentation projects.

The tools to produce complex projects get better al the time.

TL> 4. Formats are becoming more complex as we learn more about
TL> documentation
TL> usability and readability.

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

I see a trend to specialisation. For my person, I do at least 80% writing
only. I not even own any version of Corel Draw or any other graphics package,
besides some shareware to do screen shots or so. I have a copy of PageMaker 4
to do the newsletter of my regional chapter of tekom (our national society
for technical communicators) every second month.

Look at different industries. As they grow up, they get more complex all the
time. And they develop new professions with narrower scopes than before.

One problem we have is that many of us work alone or in very small groups
where everyone must be able to do everything. But why should you develop a
style sheet AND write AND create grapics AND design the GUI AND ...? Quite
easily it can be cheaper to give some specialized, small jobs to specialists.
This could be a chance for many free-lancers.

But how do you advertise your services when you need many customers as
averyone of them has small jobs only?

E.g., I did a job some time ago with Ventura Publisher. Up to this day I have
NO clue how VP really works. I had someone do the styles. I used Word for DOS
and inserted many text blocks with names like "big" [picture], "newpage",
"heading1" and so on. VP was something like a printer driver for me, not much
more. The customer accepted the result up to contents approval. After that I
let a VP specialist do the rest.

When writing articles for magazines, I hardly do any formatting. But I insert
((comments in double brackets)). This works perfectly.

Base line: Our jobs do get more sophisticated. They do get more qualified. You
cannot help but specialise on a few topics. There will be a time where our
profession gets divided in different kinds of jobs - much more than today.
Today many technical writers happen to be translators (just one more job :-)
At least in multilingual environments like Europe.

Greetings from Germany,

|Fidonet: Alexander Von_obert 2:2490/1719
|Internet: avobert -at- twh -dot- msn -dot- sub -dot- org

| Standard disclaimer: The views of this user are strictly his own.

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