What not to do

Working in a team that isn’t heavily invested in documenting requirements and specifications (we usually have a starting set of such things but these soon fall out of step as development evolves) makes it a challenge to know both what is being added to the product and whether it needs to be documented. The development teams recently adopted JIRA and whilst the additional information helps I fear it may give us a bigger problem. As we will (should?) finally have a clear picture of everything being added to the product, will it be too much for us to handle? At present the Publications team have two very large products, with a complex API and code base which is all evolving …

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Dealing with change

It’s going to be a big year for us, both as a company and as a team. We have grand and achievable plans for the product which will mean the working processes for the Publications team will need to change for, as well as multiple streams of work with their own staggered release dates for the product, we are also restructuring our entire information set to improve ‘findability’. Which immediately prompts a question, how do you improve ‘findability’? The simple answer is would be ‘in as many ways as possible’ as there is no silver bullet. What may work for some, won’t work for others. However we have to start somewhere and the first thing we can do is restructure …

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Always learning

Next week the first of two new recruits joins our team. Both are graduates and whilst neither graduated from a Technical Writing based course they both have a good mix of skills, coming to the position through different routes. It’ll be a challenge for them, and a challenge for us, to integrate them to the team smoothly and successfully. I’m sure they will both do well, but to give them the best chance I’m preparing a few weeks of training for them, in various aspects of the job. I’m trying to anticipate what they need to know, and when they need to know it, and whilst I’m very wary of letting my own experience get in the way it does …

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What do you write?

Most of my experience is based around software documentation. Whilst there are several levels to this, from task oriented User Guides through to highly technical API/SDK documentation, they tend to follow similar patterns making it easy for me to take my experience and apply it to new challenges. I’ve also been involved in writing up procedures and guidelines as part of an ISO quality system, a little whitepaper style writing, and even the odd product brochure. All of which require a slightly different approach but the same grounding in the basics of understanding the audience. However I’m aware that there are many other forms of technical writing, and I’m curious to find out what everyone else does? Do you write …

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Jack of all trades Pt. 2

My name is Gordon McLean, I am a Technical Communicator* and I am proud to be a jack of all trades. I recall once being asked to breakdown all the skills required to be a Technical Writer, and then to provide a list of daily work tasks. The list of skills was to be used as part of a skills/training matrix, and the work tasks were to be mapped to a timesheet system. At first I concentrated solely on the Technical Writers role, but even then you need to wear a number of hats; researcher, analyst, information architect, publisher, indexer, illustrator, proof-reader, editor… ohh and writer. All of those are unique job roles in some places yet, as a Technical …

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linkedin API

LinkedIn API “Opportunity” – sounds useful but hope it doesn’t go the way of other sites with a multitude of useless add-ons. LinkedIn needs to remember that professionals want a professional product. That’s why I’ve dumped Facebook, too much dross!

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Blogging Announcement

A day earlier than planned but glad that this is now out in the open. Cross-posted on Scottish Blogs, with a similar post on BritBlog. BritBlog and Scottish Blogs Join Forces Some of you may be familiar with the British Blog Directory, a site similar to Scottish Blogs that focuses on (as the name suggests) British bloggers. Mark, who runs the site, and I have been in discussion for some time and we are both pleased to announce that we will soon be joining forces. The reasoning is simple: combining resources means we can offer our members (and web users at large) more. Because of the group-focus that the new BritBlog will have, existing members of Scottish Blogs will become …

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The Great Blog Hope?

An open letter to SixApart. Dear TypeKey, You came promising much, the chance to be able to track myself across the comment boxes of the land, the opportunity to build relations and create networks. A unique insight to my self, my habits and passions. Ohh how you have failed me. Maybe I expected too much, maybe I didn’t really ‘get’ what you are all about, and if that is the case then accept my apologies and my excuses for my apathy. Mind you, you can’t even be bothered to remember me for longer than two weeks so it’s not like you are trying so hard yourself. Do you treat others this way? Or have you stopped caring altogether? I once …

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AA GillAnother day, another wonderful quote at hydragenic. This is the power of ‘blogs’. On the strength of Stuarts references I have ordered AA Gill’s book “AA Gill is Away”, and I have registered at The Times website (where AA Gill writes a column).The main point here is not a simple recommendation of a book, which in fact Stuart never did, but the fact that, having read hydragenic for some months now, day in day out, and absorbed the things Stuart has posted about (whether I’ve agreed or not) I am much more likely to value his judgement over, say, the people who post reviews at the Amazon website. Maybe this is something Amazon should be looking at, especially as …

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