Re: Programming Tools -- How Prevalent Are They? - LONG

Subject: Re: Programming Tools -- How Prevalent Are They? - LONG
From: "Wing, Michael J" <mjwing -at- INGR -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 3 Jun 1996 08:39:54 -0500

>Last round on this one from my end...

And from mine

>What I do discredit is the thought that the only way to communicate
>something is to have done it yourself. That is not true.

No, you don't have to have done it yourself. However, every bit of
experience and knowledge you gain enhances your ability as a

I'll quote my original observations about this rationale to determine if
I have strayed.

"A Technical Writer who grasps the concepts of the
programming/application of which they are documenting creates less of a
burden on the Engineering staff from whom they need to draw information.
I find that there is a much better chance that Engineers will provide
useful information if you approach them prepared rather than with the
"blank page" journalist/interviewer approach. By knowing some of their
environment, your questions are direct and minimize the chance of

>How much further then will experience and skills past nominal "writer
>skills" take you?

>You missed my point. I do not advocate Tech Comms hole-up and ignore
>technology, new skills, etc. If they do, they'll get lapped. What I
>saying is that you cannot ignore those "nominal writer skills" since
>is still the core of Technical Communication.

I didn't ignore them. Again, I'll quote my original observations to see
if there are inconsistencies. I believe that I cited writing as the
core skill.

"In my opinion, today's job work environment requires that a writer
spread their skills wide as well as deep. Writing is still the core
skill, the job has expanded to testing, example code, on-line
presentations, animation, hypertext, intra- and inter- net
presentations, single source/reusable files, contact and context

>This you would have to prove. My last experience in seeing a CS
>in a comm. class adds no more validity to a blanket statement such as
>"All engineers ..." than your own personal observations.
>Not to split hairs, but notice the word MOST. Not the substitute ALL
>you placed in the in your reference.

I'll split the hair further, note the leading phrase "Such as" in my
example. This was not a direct quote/reference from you're post, it was
an illustration of how your first post came across.

>It does apply Mike. Just as much as it would if I started whipping out
>Objects with all disregard for Booch/Rumbaugh/Jacobson and other
>methodologies and principles, a good communicator will know about
>and other communication methodologists. Come on Mike, this is playing
>right into your background point. You should love this stuff. You
>possibly believe that someone who's trained in effective communication
>skills could develop an application as well as someone who's trained in
>effective development skills... Why then would you continue to purport
>the opposite is true?

I don't, you say I do. I never claimed that a writer can program as
well as a Developer. I only have purported that skills beyond nominal
technical writing skills are becoming more of a necessity in today's
technical communication. You're argument here is a "non sequitur".
I'll quote my original post again.

"Whereas a Technical Writer is a writer, not a programmer, a basic
understanding of programming concepts enhances the writer's
employability. With the increasing movement to online documents, I find
myself working on methods to use single-source topics across multiple
applications/versions, implementing and troubleshooting
context-sensitivity, developing simple programming code (both for
examples and to capture video files for visual examples of the
application), and so forth. Often, I am one of the first people to run
an application with separate pieces trying to interact."

>No problem... hope you enjoyed the "bouncing" as my buddy Tigger would

Actually, I have.


>_/ Michael Wing
>_/ Principal Technical Writer
>_/ Jupiter Customization and Educational Services
>_/ Intergraph Corporation
>_/ 730-7250
>_/ mjwing -at- ingr -dot- com

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