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technical writerThe person responsible for writing hardware and software documentation, online help, technical definitions and product descriptions. Quite often, the technical writer is given the task of documenting an application at the last minute, allowing very little time for a thorough understanding of all the options, let alone time for others to read and edit the material before it is published.
A Necessary Evil
Although technical writing is a skill that takes years to learn, and while some companies do appreciate it, most do not. Technical writers are often given less attention than other professionals in the field. As a result, almost all the documentation we read could be better, and much of it is downright indecipherable. Is it any wonder that even technical people avoid reading manuals at all costs (see RTFM)?
A Note from the Author
Describing technical material is as difficult a job as some of the most complex programming. I know because I have been doing both for more than 50 years. However, bad programming is often invisible. As long as the program seems to work, nobody has any idea how many resources are being wasted behind the scenes. Without having programming experience and viewing the source code, no one can know that the app will take five times longer to modify than it should because of its poor design.
But, poor writing is very visible... up front... staring you in the face. And, "you" are an expert in judging its quality. If well written, the most complicated material can be brought down to bite-sized chunks that are understandable.
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