Computer Languages Process Screencasting Tools Training Uncategorized Writing

How Waterfall/Agile Development Impacts Technical Writing by Eric Sedor

“Waterfall is dead, long live Agile,” many voices cry, heralding a transition in the software industry from heavyweight engineering efforts to an almost sports-like scrimmage. Waterfall didn’tkeep up, they complain. Projects turned into congested pipelines and out of desperation to reclaim fluidity, the entire cycle broke down into an environment of iterative re-development that gave birth to Agile. Increasingly, developers collaborate in short sprints to rapidly address evolving concerns rather than as construction crews working from blueprints. What does this new era mean for technical writing as part of software development? More specifically, what is expected of an Agile Technical Writer?

Business Marketing Uncategorized Writing


At some point, you’ve probably developed documentation to attract clients, educate customers, or provide instruction on the products or services you offer. Considering the effort put into creating the material, as well as the pool of expertise behind it, you might think about re-working some of your content to produce a general release eBook.

Process Training Uncategorized Writing

Why Technical Writers Scroll

In a recent issue of the Shoap Technical Reader, I commented on my reaction to a usability test in which I had participated (“Why Technical Writers Are So Weird”). The test was for one of our writer’s web UI development classes. He created an application to create a response to an RFP. His observations can be found here:

Business Marketing Process Tools Training

What Is Gamification?

You may have heard the term “gamification” floating around and wondered, “What is that?” The answer: Gamification is the new buzz word representing the idea of incorporating gaming concepts and techniques into non-game activities in order to drive a desired behavior. Marketing campaigns can use game mechanics to drive customers to their websites, sales agents can participate in games to drive competition and increase sales, and in our industry, documentation and training groups can build game-like training materials to fully engage the learner.

Business E-mail Language Marketing Networking Tools Training Uncategorized Visual Aids Water Cooler Stuff Writing

MS Paint can be very useful

I used to take Microsoft Paint for granted. I saw it every once in a while in the Accessories folder when I was looking for the Calculator or Notepad but never really used it. Then I starting using screen capture programs at work to take screenshots for user guides, manuals, online helps, etc. When I was on my personal computer, I had no idea how to take a screenshot without a fancy program, and then I finally remembered Paint. Since then, I’ve used it for screenshots, creating and editing pictures/photos, and testing.

Business Language Marketing Networking Tools Training Uncategorized Useful Links Writing

Do you know about Wikipedia’s Simple English?

I don’t know about you, but I’m constantly Googling anything and everything and I frequently end up on Wikipedia’s website. One day I was looking at all of the possible languages I could read an entry in and noticed “Simple English” was one of the options. I was reading about something complex and “Simple English” simplified the topic and made it easier to understand (you could say it’s a “red carpet” to the “English” entry).

Tools Uncategorized

It’s Time to Stop the PDF Madness

Often, the quickest way to get a document deployed is to write it in a Word doc, create a PDF, and post it somewhere for users to access. This happens a lot for both end user and developer documentation. So why, then, is distributing PDF files for online reading a top web usability gaffe?

Business Process Tools Uncategorized Writing

Why Bother Writing Requirements?

We’ve recently been approached by two different companies about writing requirements. The first, a small company, wanted to develop a dashboard to replace a third-party application it was using. The owner, who had most of the information in his head regarding what the new dashboard should look like, what it should do, etc., suggested we send one of our writers to his location to study the existing dashboard, spend a little time with him and some of his key people to learn more about the functionality the dashboard needed to support, and “capture” this information so he could give the requirements to a developer or offshore the project.

Business Uncategorized Writing

Technical Writers Need Coaches?

In a recent issue of the New Yorker, Atul Gawande argues quite persuasively that like participants in sports, surgeons (like himself) can benefit from coaches.  Even the elite stars, like Rafael Nadal, he points out, have coaches, observing, watching every move of the tennis great.  Why, he wonders, don’t doctors – even senior, experienced ones – have coaches?  As he says, “”I’d paid to have a kid just out of college look at my [tennis] serve.  So why did I find it inconceivable to pay someone to come into my operating room and coach me on my surgical technique?”

Business E-mail Language Process Tools Training Uncategorized Writing

How Documentation Can Create Trust

When you are a company dealing with your customers’ most valuable personal information, you need them to trust you. One easy way to do this is to have your documentation flawless (or close to it). Also, performing a test run with a small group of people before releasing it to the masses is a good idea. The group of people should be 3rd party users who can find the mistakes you can’t find (since you’ve read and reread the form 40 times and never want to see it again).