Re: Understanding the things you document

Subject: Re: Understanding the things you document
From: Joy Owen <jowen2 -at- CSC -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 07:39:31 -0500

Normally, I would have said that understanding the product happens as you
develop the material and at the end you will end up knowing as much as any
expert user of the system. That was until I came to my current job where
I'm documenting for programmers. I can't possibly understand the system at
their level and rely quite a bit on my SMEs for input.

I do know as much as any lay person probably could about the system, but
when you get into the actual coding and the descriptions to other
programmers of how they can alter their code for client-specific tasks...
well, I'm afraid I am not the expert - nor do I expect I will ever be.
It's a challenge, for sure.

I understand the what you are faced with. Have been there before and am
there now on some levels. At least you have options. You can quit or
transfer - I always hate that one. You can try to get them to see things
your way - that is NEVER the easy route. You can go with their flow and
just produce the documentation.
I am in the process of meeting with each of the programming teams within
our organization to discuss the documentation process. Where we've come
from and where we're going. Many times, the push to "just get the doc out"
comes from a lack of understanding about what, exactly, it is that tech
writers do.

Good luck!

Joy Owen

jsoukup -at- GTE -dot- NET on 07/06/99 10:27:41 PM

Please respond to jsoukup -at- GTE -dot- NET

cc: (bcc: Joy Owen/FSG/CSC)
Subject: Understanding the things you document

With everything I've documented in the past, I have always understood at
some level how the device or program worked. I'm getting the picture at my
new job that understanding the program is secondary to producing the
documentation. Do other writers face this same challenge?
Jonathan Soukup

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