Re: Technical Writer Education

Subject: Re: Technical Writer Education
From: George Mena <George -dot- Mena -at- ESSTECH -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 11:08:14 -0700

Dear Robert and Christie Carr,

At the bare minimum, all tech writers should have knowledge of Microsoft
Word, and many do.

After that, it can get a little murky because technical writing is a
rather diverse occupation that supports a great many industries, both
high-tech and rest-of-world. For the Unix-based programs, ask one of
the folks here from Sun Microsystems. My recommendations for the
Mac/Windows platforms follow and are offered as a starting point only:

Line Art/Illustration: AutoCAD LT and either Adobe Illustrator or
CorelDraw (Win); Ashlar Vellum, Claris CAD, MacDraw (Mac)
Image Editing: Adobe Photoshop or Corel PhotoPaint
Application Development Environments: Microsoft Visual Basic, Borland
(Win) or Symantec (Mac) C/C++, Microsoft Windows SDK, Symantec
Turbo Pascal (Mac)
Multimedia Presentation: Macromedia Director suite, Asymetrix
Multimedia Toolbook (Win); Adobe Premiere (Mac) (also, get Radius
hardware for best results; Radius offers a complete solution that you
can hook up VCRs, camcorders, tape recorders, microphones and a ot more
to via its proprietary breakout bar. A two-drive hard disk array is
also offered; minimum 4 GB. Recommend 36 GB hard disk array and RAID
controller from Computer Systems Corporation, Sunnyvale, CA.)
Page Layout/Long Document Processor: Adobe FrameMaker, Adobe PageMaker,
Folio, Corel Ventura Publisher
Marketing Presentation Graphics: Microsoft PowerPoint
Schematic Capture: OrCAD Capture for Windows or any good SPICE program
Graphics File Conversion: Imsi Graphics Converter Gold for Windows;
Claris Graphics Translator (Mac) (if you can find it!)
Web Page Development: Microsoft Front Page 98, Adobe Page Mill, Claris
Home Page
Database: Microsoft Access, Microsoft SQL Server, Gupta SQLWindows,
Borland Paradox, Visual FoxPro
Online Help: Blue Sky Software RoboHELP and RoboHTML, Doc-To-Help, HTML
Internet-Based Manual Generation: Adobe Acrobat suite (Catalog,
Distiller, Exchange and Reader)

That should get you started. Hope you have a lot of money. You'll need

George Mena

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Christie Carr [SMTP:chrcarr -at- UMICH -dot- EDU]
> Sent: Friday, May 15, 1998 10:38 AM
> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
> Subject: Technical Writer Education
> I am a Ph.D. student in business and technical communication who
> currently
> teaches technical communication in a traditional academic environment
> where
> the technology is limited and outdated. Because I spend the majority
> of my
> time in the classroom, I feel that I have begun to lose touch with the
> technology that is actually being used in the workplace. This being
> the
> case, I'm interested in learning more about specific software
> applications
> that graduates should be fluent in when they begin to pursue work as
> professional technical writers. Comments, recommendations and shopping
> lists would be extremely helpful, especially since we will soon have
> the
> funds constuct a dream instructional lab. So what components should
> comprise this ideal computer classroom?
> Sincerely,
> Robert Carr
> Wayne State University
> (734) 663-1557
> chrcarr -at- umich -dot- edu
> &^~~~
> Send commands to listserv -at- listserv -dot- okstate -dot- edu (e.g., SIGNOFF
> Find TECHWR-L-related books at

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