RE: Programmer/Writer?

Subject: RE: Programmer/Writer?
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 17:44:20 -0700

>> --- Anthony said:
>> >
>> > I have noticed an increase in job listings for combination
>> > Programmer/(Technical) Writers...

and Kevin Feeman replied:
>...sounding like some companies want technical writers to be good at
>everything... our profession does
>not allow us to be jack of all trades. A person can be an awesome writer, or
>an awesome programmer, but a person cannot be awesome at both. The written
>word ... takes time, practice, and skill ...
>which cannot occur when one is programming, doing graphics, or what have

Well, yes. I agree with you up to a point.

First, Kevin, you do more than write -- you manage a department. And
management, like writing and programming, takes time and skill and
knowledge if you are to do it well. And so, despite your professing
to be only interested in writing, you're actually a jack of at least
two trades.

Second, you can get away with _only_ being a writer if you're _only_
documenting a GUI for an end-user audience. But programming languages
need user guides and reference manuals, too. (It's a dirty job, but
somebody's gotta do it! ;-) ) And to write good programming manuals,
you need to know something about programming.

Now, I do not profess to be an awesome programmer; although I could be
if I gave it some attention. But I can, if necessary, program my way
out of a wet paper bag. More importantly, I know enough about programming
to know what programmers need to know to get the job done. And I know
what words to use to explain concepts effectively to my target audience.

Truth be told, I like doing more than writing. I can fire up FrameMaker,
CorelDraw, or Visual C++ and roll up my sleves and get to work. Need an
icon? Want some suggestions about the user interface? Need a User manual?
Online help? Web site? Sure, I'll get it done. See, I believe that it's
my job to communicate; and *that* is my area of expertise. Those other
things -- the pictures, the words, the programs -- those are just tools.

So, you stick with writing and I'll jump from hither to yon and we can
just be glad that there's space in this industry for both of us. Just
don't think that because my scope is broader than yours my communication
skills are less well developed. That is not true.

-Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com

The _Guide_ is definitive.
Reality is frequently inaccurate. --Douglas Adams

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