Technical Writing for the Cloud
By: Eric Sedor
Eric Sedor, a frequent contributor to the Shoap Technical Reader, is a senior software engineer at MongoLab, a cloud-based database provider located in San Francisco. Eric cut his technical writing teeth at Shoap Technical Services before returning to his true passion, software engineering.
The Cloud encapsulates the idea of a distributed system built of formable, destructible, re-creatable components. Even the data within cloud systems is redundant and spread out, capable of being restored in parts to specific points in time, if necessary. Cloud systems even overlap one another.
Eric Sedor is a senior software engineer at MongoLab, a cloud-based database provider located in San Francisco, and frequent contributor to The Technical Reader. Eric cut his technical writing teeth at Shoap Technical Services before returning to his true passion, software engineering.
Technically speaking, technical writing is writing, but all writing is not technical. Consult the textbooks and you’ll find much material describing the difference. Consider, however, the possibility that technical writing is not writing at all. Compare, say, Moby Dick to your latest furniture assembly instructions:
As I learn more about Office 2007, I’ll have plenty of specific tips for you. Until then, I want to provide the best advice ever given to me: Don’t be scared.
Our familiar Word toolbars have been replaced by this:
At first glance it is chaotic and cluttered. Nothing is where it should be. We have no idea what to click. Worse yet, we have no idea what to expect when we actually click something. At times like this, when we are surrounded by the unfamiliar, it is important to remain calm.
If we immediately rush ahead and try to make Word do our bidding, we’re just going to frustrate ourselves. However, if we take a deep breath and examine our surroundings, familiar icons will begin to stand out.
The first thing I’m going to do is mouse over a button I recognize…
…and be pleasantly surprised. Now, not all of the tips you’ll find are as thorough as this one, but many of them are.
Don’t bother typing anything at first. Just take some time and explore the interface. As with all things in life, the more you interact with something, the more familiar it becomes.
P.S., Be sure to note that UFO in the top left is actually a button!