Tool experience, and subject matter experience

Subject: Tool experience, and subject matter experience
From: weber -at- EASI -dot- COM
Date: Tue, 21 May 1996 09:53:55 -0700

Tim Altom wrote:

>Naturally, some
>experience on a help tool is preferable, but how important is
>YOUR tool to the performance of the job?

If use of a specific tool to the exclusion of all others in
the same category is vital, I'd say my department is in trouble.
What happens when that tool becomes outdated (as it inevitably

I completely agree with your comment about WinHelp being a
less tool-dependent skill than DTP. Even for DTP, as long as
an applicant has used a DTP product on the platform we use
(rather than only word processing software), I feel they can
figure out another DTP tool.

Let me open another can of worms. What degree of subject
matter experience do you think is needed for a writer on a
particular job?

For example, for database-driven software, should a writer have
experience with other database-driven software, or that
*specific kind* of db-driven software (such as accounting or
manufacturing), or do you think it shouldn't matter as long
as the writer has experience writing software documentation of
some sort? Or is even hardware writing experience enough?

A related question: do you think the best tech writers specialize
in a subject matter area, or diversify? Is that even a factor
in determining who "the best" are?

I know what I think, but I'd love to know what you folks think
about this. Rather than making the list even more voluminous,
you can send responses to me directly and I'll summarize.

Faith Weber
EA Systems Inc.
weber -at- easi -dot- com

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