TW skills

Subject: TW skills
From: Katherin King <kking -at- BROOKTROUT -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 13 May 1998 10:20:40 -0400

Matt Danda wrote:

All the skills you mention (usability testing, online help) fall more in
the category of Software Development than Technical Writing.

I strongly disagree that these skills fall into the category of Software
Development. Although SW developers create the GUI, the users have to
use it and, as advocates of the user, we have to get intimately involved
in the usability testing of the GUI. We have to explain how to use the
interface, so it makes sense that we should have a voice in what it
looks like and how it should work. Online help is definitely a TW
skill-we, not developers, understand how to write about a topic clearly,
concisely, how to present enough information but no more, how to guide
the user through the help system. This is NOT in the realm of software

I do agree, however, that those of us involved in software tech writing
need a background in programming. I'm not sure if a degree in computer
science is the way to do it, but understanding the concepts would help
us understand what the programmers are talking about.

Kathy Stanzler
Technical Writer
Brooktrout Technology Inc.
Southborough, MA
(508) 229-7777 ext. 182
kking -at- brooktrout -dot- com

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