TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Tech Writer - Why called such? From:"Anthony Markatos" <tonymar -at- hotmail -dot- com> To:ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com, tonymar -at- hotmail -dot- com Date:Fri, 12 Nov 1999 16:59:20 PST
Anthony Markatos wrote:
Our primary job is not to write about HOW the product works. It is convey
understanding of essential end user tasks accomplished with the product and
how those tasks interrelate. It is, in other words, conveying understanding
of WHAT the product does to help the user achieve his/her business goals.
We may properly digress from the WHAT and discuss the HOW, but all effective
organization is based on the WHAT.
Eric Ray responded:
...my primary [current] job is precisely to write about HOW the product
does WHAT, and WHICH aspects of Product A should concern which developers at
Tony Markatos responds:
The WHAT is tasks accomplished. It is procedures followed (tasks consist of
procedures - also called steps). When you say that you write about "HOW the
product does WHAT", you are writing about the procedures accomplished by the
product in performing a given task. You are writing about the WHAT.
The WHICH is simply conditional branches within the procedure.
Eric Ray said:
The original organization was by WHAT, but that was virtually
worthless, because it's like giving a tech writer a list of HTML tags
organized by WHAT they do (these make text bolder and bigger, these
establish links or references among documents, etc) rather than organizing
by HOW to use the tags to easily accomplish common or likely tasks.
Tony Markatos responds:
It sounds like you organized by task. Organizing by task is organizing by
the WHAT. The HOW properly refers to the mechanism(s) utilized to
accomplish the WHAT.