In the early 2000s, as Windows became the primary operating system, technical writers pondered how to describe the user interface before them. For those of us who remember those days, we were lucky that Microsoft provided a solution. It was called the “Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications” (MSTP) and quickly became the technical writer’s bible. The first edition was actually released in 1995.
Posts in Technical Writing
Technical writers often talk about SMEs, but subject matter experts are actually (gasp!) developers, programmers, scientists, innovators, and product managers. Today’s SMEs are young, smart, and quick. This is not your father’s SME – this is the SME of Generation Y. The smartphone generation. The startup generation. The instant generation. These SMEs will not be impressed by your 1200 page PDF full of screen shots and explanations of self-explanatory features.
I spent the first 25 years or so of my life in England. Besides experiencing copious amounts of precipitation, I was also exposed to shops with signs that read something like “Ye Olde Tea Shoppe”. It was quaint and reminded people of a life hundreds of years ago in an England that was medieval. Indeed, it’s true that “ye” and words with an “e” on the end, date back quite a few hundred years. For businesses looking to attract history-hunting tourists, add a “ye” and an “e” and you’re well on your way.
It really is a cliche to say that we live in a changing world. But the truth is that we do. The changes affect every aspect of life today from the way we spend our leisure time, to how we communicate, and even the food we eat. The world of business, and our world of technical writing is no different. Or is it?
Scrum. What does that word conjure up for you? If you’re a sports fan, you’ll probably be able to picture muddy green field and a bunch of well-built, mud-stained blokes pushed into a huddle, kicking an oval ball about. The scrum is indeed an essential element of the game of rugby. On the other hand, if you’re deeply immersed in the world of software development, “scrum” will have a whole different meaning.