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   ► KBRole-Based T...Technical Wr...General, Get...   Print This     
  From the March 2016 Issue of Prestwood eMag
Tech Writer General, Getting Started, etc.:
What is technical writing?
Posted 12 years ago on 6/19/2008
Take Away: About technical writing and the knowledge domain.


Technical writing is defined as putting in information with correct english grammar that includes information about a specific item/topic of interest. Technical writing in today's industry has been diversified into several vast areas spanning across different domains.

Some of the technical writing services are provided, but not limited to the following:

  • Product documentation
  • User documentation
  • Software applications documentation
  • API documentation
  • Testing documentation
  • Web portal documentation
  • Services documentation

It has been very important that a technical writer needs to be very focussed and concentrate the following skillsets as part of his job irrespective of any industry he/she has been involved with.

  • Grammar skills
  • Sentence and pararaph construction
  • Graphic skills
  • Graphical tools
  • Domain knowledge
  • Understanding end user

All these are very important for any technical writer before he starts writing any topic/information. Above all this, the technical writer role demands higher level of communication skills, able to understand faster and be thorough with the approach. It is also very critical to understand the technical writing life cycle in any organization. This life cycle is similar to the waterfall model of the software life cycle.

Technical writing is a fast booming career in the software/hardware market and the options in this domain are plenty.


Share a thought or comment...
Comment 1 of 3


Great post on technical writing!  I find myself agreeing with everything you say, with one small exception:

"This life cycle is similar to the waterfall model of the software life cycle."

It is true that technical writing can follow a cycle similar to the old waterfall software life cycle, but, as with software development itself, I'd hate to approach technical writing that way in the modern world of agile software development.

The waterfall model called for all requirements to be known, and well documented, before development begins. Then, an iteration of the software wass created according those known requirements - and only those requirements.  New requirements would be introduced only after the first iteration was completed.

That model had the advantage of making the developer's, and tech writer's worlds very "safe," but it made for painfully slow development, and often led to initial (and sometimes terminal) customer dissatisfaction.

Agile development methodologies, on the other hand, recognize that all requirements may not be known, that it is rare to "get it right" the first time, and introduce the flexibility to iteratively discover, and manage, requirements as development moves forward.

I find it useful, then, in my technical writing, to track the agile process (PSDP, in this organization), and to use authoring tools that integrate comfortably with our development systems.

A good example of such a tool is HelpScribble.  It includes add-ins for the Delphi development system that allow us to rapidly connect elements of the software to the relevant help topics. Help & Manual is another such tool. 

Both are capable of producing WinHelp, Compiled HTML Help (chm), web documentation, and source for printed manuals, all from a single "project" file.

Additionally, they can parse source code, and produce a very satisfying documentation framework for classes and other elements related to "API" concerns.

The project source from either of these tools can be added to the same version control system used by the software developers, making it easy to track and manage changes as an agile project moves forward.

Posted 12 years ago

Comment 2 of 3

An aside (and a tip of the hat to waterfall methodology):

Larry, a good friend, and very competent developer, had a modest, personal software project to do.  Because he was both the developer and "consumer," he was able to use the waterfall method to good effect.

In fact, his approach was a little unusual:  He used HelpScribble to create the entire help system before he wrote a single line of code!  The resulting help system, then, became his requirements specification.

I wouldn't suggest that approach for any very ambitious project, but in his unusual case, it worked very well.

Posted 12 years ago

Comment 3 of 3

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Posted 12 days ago
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