Sunday, August 26, 2007

Testing the Publish by Email Feature

One of the coolest things about contemporary blogging is that I can blog by email, by text message, or even by phone. I can blurt ideas onto the page at any time from anywhere.

Emerging Skills Sets for Technical Writers

After having been a technical writer for nearly 15 years, I took a couple of years off to teach martial arts. I kept my writing chops sharp by doing the occasional user guide or online help system, but I didn't keep my finger on the pulse of trends in the technical writing field.

In 2003, when I began my sabbatical, a tech writer would have been considered competent if s/he was skilled in using Word, Framemaker, RoboHelp/HTML, and Acrobat. If you wanted to be more marketable, you would've added Illustrator, Photoshop and HTML to your bag o' tricks.

This month, as I persued job listings on
Dice, Monster, Careerbuilder, and Indeed, I found some companies are now looking for writers who, in addition to the core skills outlined above, are also versed in web design and content management.

Web Design

Like most tech writers, I'm a bit of a nerd, so I've created my own simple website and blog. The Dreamweaver and XHTML requirements are no big deal. But I'm definitely having to play catch-up in deepening my understanding of CSS and Javascript.

Even more interesting to me, were companies who were looking for people who were familiar with writing Wikis and blogs. I love using
Wikipedia and have long kept a personal blog, but the idea of companies using Wikis and blogs to communicate with their employees, customers, and potential customers is new and intriguing to me.

Question: Will user guides one day become blogs that users can subscribe to and receive daily updates on their personalizing Google or My Yahoo page?

Content Management

Content management (AKA single sourcing, resusability) has been a buzzword in technical writing for more than a decade. Many companies use Framemaker's conditional text feature for single sourcing. However with the advent of databases and XML, single sourcing seems to becoming more of a possibility.

Questions: What are some of the new technical writing tools you use? How do you stay current in learning and assessing new and upcoming tools in technical writing?