What is a technical writer? If you prick one will they bleed blood? Or will it be facts, figures and diagrams?
Sarah Maddox writes in her blog about a book by Andrew Etter(a self published writer): Modern Technical Writing: An Introduction to Software Documentation.
In his book, Andrew goes over the key aspects of what he believes about being a technical writer in today’s world:
- Learn: Know what you’re talking about and why your audience should care.
- Write in Lightweight Markup: Markup languages are a system for annotating a document that makes it clear that it’s not text. (Example the link above is HTML Hypertext Markup Language). Lightweight Markup can get you from a “Pleasant writing experience to a useful website”
- Create static websites: A web page with fixed content.
- Treat docs as code
Ms.Maddox then writes about the process for Mr.Etter to get his book out , his price range and the troubles he had while publishing.
Mr.Etter then began to speak about the value of a technical Writer. The things that make the job unique. The points he brought to the table were :
- Consistency- Regarding tooling. Mr. Etter claims that without tech writers engineering teams would have to pick their own tools “which would result in chaos”. As a budding Computer Engineer I can appreciate that.
- Accountability – The documentation needs to be good or else some gets a pink slip.
- Creation and C : The writers have a community that can review and take care of each other’s content.
- Culture- Having people who really know what they’re doing, allows you to know what your document should look like.
- They can help an organization save time. And time is money.
Finally goes over the old and the new ways of producing documentation, which can be found in Mr.Etter’s: Modern Technical Writing: An Introduction to Software Documentation.
A good 45 minute read that should illuminate,destroy common myths, clear misconceptions about Technical Writing today.