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Soft Skills of a Technical Writer

What soft skills should technical writers have when they start their career? Linguistic and technical understanding is important in our profession. So are the soft skills - just like in any other job. more ...

RDF is not XML – RDF serialization and iiRDS metadata

The world of technical writing loves XML. Its document type definitions are the foundation of structured authoring. XML and the underlying schemas structure the content of our information products. The benefits are twofold. Content is consistently structured and easy to read. Authors have an easier time writing the content. The structure provides guidelines for authoring. more ...

How to become a technical writer – Confessions of a former translator

A former translator, I worked the first seven years of my professional life in the translation industry, in various positions. While I learned a lot from this experience, it also left me, as a writer, frustrated. Translators are chained to their source text and writing the words of others in another language, usually focusing on what their clients want. more ...

tekom impressions part 2: API documentation and the VUKA world

Daniela Herbold and Ulrike Parson write about better API documentation and solutions for innovative human resources management. more ...

Impressions from tcworld 2017

Part 1: Improvisation, fluff hunt, and videos for technical documentation. more ...

Stubborn Susan and Shaky Steve. DITA typology for dummies

Are you a trial-and-error Tom or a jump-right-in Joe? And have you heard of the DITA typology? I haven't. Until today, anyway. Frank Ralf invented it.

Our colleague Frank Ralf attended the DITA Europe in Munich. At the Demo Jam he presented his invention, the DITA types. The following diagram shows their different approaches and results (or failures). The y axis stands for emotions, the x axis for knowledge). Do you recognize yourself in one of the DITA types?

DITA TypenDITA types by Frank Ralf

DITA Types - Dramatis Personae

Stubborn Susan
Stays put, won't write documentation at all, regardless of the format or tool. After all, you can just look at the code, can't you?

Trial-and-error Tom
Quickly gets the hang of the new DITA format, explores DITA by trial and error. If he doesn't know, he calls the support line. Often. But don't worry, he stays relaxed. The way he works keeps him happy and moves him horizontally (knowledge) over time.

Shaky Steve
Knows enough for his daily work. Is happy as long as it works; if not, he panics and his liking of DITA drops instantly. Support calls are always fire-fighting missions, so you better help him quickly. Shaky Steve moves heavily vertically (emotion) without making too much progress horizontally (knowledge).

Jump-right-in Joe
You don't ever hear from him again only to discover after two months that he has implemented a complex @conkeyref-mechnism for his DITA documentation and automatically builds release notes with Jenkins using his own DITA templates.

Grumpy Gary
But there's also a dark side of DITA. At the bottom of his heart, Grumpy Gary is convinced that topic-based documentation using XML is the right way to do. And he is very knowledge-able about everything XML. But the longer he studies DITA the more he recognizes that "all that glitters is not gold".

Enlightened Eliot
The state, all DITA users want to reach eventually.

Tags: DITA

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