What Technical Writers Need to Know (?)
According to some blogs, technical writers need to know how to use certain tools in order to be effective in these modern times. But is this the truth? Let’s look at the current suggestions:
Here’s something that seems to be the least important, yet most often used tool today for all writers. With social media, you can reach out and learn more about certain documentation topics, and you can reach out to SMEs, on occasion. But outside of these special cases, it’s not clear why social media is something that needs to be a ‘must know’ for technical writing.
Yes, technical writers should be collaborating on their documents, and frequently. In doing so, information can be shared and work can be handled more efficiently on assigned projects. In addition, these tools can be connected to management leaders, which can be beneficial.
It seems to be that HTML5 is an up and comer in the technology world, and eventually it will become something that a technical writer may need to document or utilize. For those who have the time to spare, it never hurts to learn a new technical skill.
Yes, Wikis are great ways of compiling information about a certain subject so it’s easy to access. Much like collaboration tools, the more you can share information in a centralized way, the more effective a technical writer can be.
And Agile Development is something that many project managers know how to utilize, though this does not mean that everyone needs to know it for technical writing. Breaking down larger projects into smaller tasks is a good thing, but it may not apply to all documentation.
If you’re looking for work and want to expand your career horizons as a technical writer, it’s certainly worthwhile to be skilled in a number of areas and be adept with a variety of tools. But what do you think the best tools and skills are for a technical writer in 2012 and beyond? Is it just the skill or toolset that applies to the job you’re after? Please leave a comment with your thoughts.