Re: Knowing prog. lang. +s to a TW's $?

Subject: Re: Knowing prog. lang. +s to a TW's $?
From: Jerry Kindall <kindall -at- MANUAL -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 11 Jan 1997 01:22:48 -0500

Barb Philbrick <burkbrick -at- AOL -dot- COM> wrote:

>In article <97010912205269 -at- trump -dot- itg -dot- ti -dot- com>, Cynthia Libby
><cynthia -at- trump -dot- itg -dot- ti -dot- com> writes:
>>I am amazed when I hear writers say they wrote documentation for an
>>application and have never used the application. It takes time during
>>the design phase to learn the application, but it greatly reduces the
>>effort during construction and review.
>Please say it ain't so! How can one even begin to address the needs of the
>audience without working with the application or equipment?
>Do many of you write documents without using the equipment or application?

Sometimes you do what you have to do.

One of my recent projects involved documenting authoring and premastering
software for DVD (Digital Video Disc, or the new-improved term, Digital
Versatile Disc). The software required special hardware to run. The
developer had one hardware unit and needed it to develop the software.
The developer was in California and I am in Michigan. Furthermore, even
though I was under NDA to the developer, the developer had orders from
ITS client (yes, I was a subcontractor to a subcontractor!) not to let
any copies of the software leave the premises. Obviously, I was not
going to ever run the software.

I didn't think I could even do such a thing, and had considered not even
taking the job, but I'm glad I did. It isn't easy, but it IS possible.

They sent me lots of screen captures, and once, I got an opportunity to
watch the software operate on my screen via Timbuktu. For about half an
hour. I sent them drafts, based on my best guess of how the software
worked, and the engineers looked them over and corrected them. I had
many conversations with engineers there to make sure I had a grasp of the
basic concepts involved. And, eventually, I nailed it. I impressed
several people at the company enough that I think they'll give me more
work -- jobs which, I hope, won't have this restriction.

>Barb Philbrick

Jerry Kindall <kindall -at- manual -dot- com>
Manual Labor <>
Technical Writing; Internet & WWW Consulting

Author of the Web Motion Encyclopedia
The comprehensive animation and video reference for Web designers
Coming Summer '97 from Waite Group Press

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