Getting your hands dirty          Jang F.M. Graat        IF UnLtd B.V. - Netherlands  What will I tell you ?  What the mac...
How did I get here ?Studied Physics, Psychology, PhilosophyDecided I could become a programmerBecame a tech writer & train...
Machinery Business  through a freelance tech writer’s eyes    True WYSIWYG If you don’t see it, it is not there No last-mi...
Real hardwareNo hidden features or optionsCovers are for safety, not to cover upButtons are real, physical, buttons      R...
Real products   You see what the machine does   Everything has an intended purpose   Malfunctions cost real money  Busines...
Typical machines...      ... are not produced in large numbers      ... come in enormous varieties      ... are often heav...
Some examplesGlue Pump                     Safety Device    Some examples            Cigarette Maker
Typical designers...... have no time for documentation... assume everyone is an engineer... live in a wordless worldWordle...
3D-world, still wordless  Typical engineers...  ... have no time for documentation  ... assume you are better educated  .....
Reading & Writinglearning the lingo of the machinery business    Learn the jargon Read manuals of similar products Ask the...
Learn to “read”...... 2D and 3D assembly drawings... common design principles... technical construction documents... 3rd p...
Writing for “dummies” “What is this button for ?” “What do I need to do ?” “How do I do that ?” Include everyday maintenan...
As clear as you canSimplified diagrams
Writing for “techies”Follow modular machine designExpect basic technical skillsDo not expect machine knowledgeDon’t includ...
..      Using images                          }Digital photographsRendered 3D models            OperatorsTechnical illustr...
3rd Party Docs  Copies in appendix to ser vice manual  Rewrite important procedures  Check procedures for correctness  Ask...
Digital photographsUse a tripod and no flashCheck whether everything is visibleHigh resolution and little compressionCrop a...
Safety regulationsClients often don’t know about themGood documentation is crucialSafety notes must not be overdoneISO 900...
Other servicesBringing in documentation technologyHandling translation outsourcingConsulting on safety issuesBringing help...
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Getting your hands dirty - How tech authors may be able to survive in the machinery business

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This presentation was held at the STC Summit 2005 in Seattle. It shows how technical authors, hit by the offshoring of tech comms, can find plenty of work in the machinery business. After all, that business domain is less likely to be offshored and there are many more small machinery companies than global software corporations.

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Getting your hands dirty - How tech authors may be able to survive in the machinery business

  1. 1. Getting your hands dirty Jang F.M. Graat IF UnLtd B.V. - Netherlands What will I tell you ? What the machinery business is like Why this business is interesting for us How to understand machinery people How to make machinery understood Why only writing is not enough Which skills would be really handy
  2. 2. How did I get here ?Studied Physics, Psychology, PhilosophyDecided I could become a programmerBecame a tech writer & trainer insteadStarted my own company in 1994Wrote soft ware manuals, online helpWork in the machinery business now Where are you ?Working in the soft ware industry ?Laid off recently or expecting it soon ?Afraid of outsourcing or “off-shoring” ?Not keen on moving toward MarCom ?Not interested in training or sales ?Not afraid of noise, dirt and grease ?
  3. 3. Machinery Business through a freelance tech writer’s eyes True WYSIWYG If you don’t see it, it is not there No last-minute cosmetic overhauls It either works or does not work
  4. 4. Real hardwareNo hidden features or optionsCovers are for safety, not to cover upButtons are real, physical, buttons Real dangerSafety is paramount for machineryAbuse may cause serious injuriesManual must show residual dangers
  5. 5. Real products You see what the machine does Everything has an intended purpose Malfunctions cost real money Business Potentialwhy the machinery business needs tech writers
  6. 6. Typical machines... ... are not produced in large numbers ... come in enormous varieties ... are often heavily customized ... need complete documentation ... cannot be moved around easily Some examplesShrink-Wrap Conveyor Belt Filter Cutter
  7. 7. Some examplesGlue Pump Safety Device Some examples Cigarette Maker
  8. 8. Typical designers...... have no time for documentation... assume everyone is an engineer... live in a wordless worldWordless 2D-world
  9. 9. 3D-world, still wordless Typical engineers... ... have no time for documentation ... assume you are better educated ... live in an engineer’s world
  10. 10. Reading & Writinglearning the lingo of the machinery business Learn the jargon Read manuals of similar products Ask the engineer (when he has time) Check out “howstuff works.com” Watch stuff on Discovery Channel Browse engineering magazines Read engineering primers
  11. 11. Learn to “read”...... 2D and 3D assembly drawings... common design principles... technical construction documents... 3rd party documentation... how engineers work & thinkKnow your audienceOperatorsMaintenance staffSer vice staff
  12. 12. Writing for “dummies” “What is this button for ?” “What do I need to do ?” “How do I do that ?” Include everyday maintenance Don’t expect any knowledge Use photos where possibleOperators, no techies
  13. 13. As clear as you canSimplified diagrams
  14. 14. Writing for “techies”Follow modular machine designExpect basic technical skillsDo not expect machine knowledgeDon’t include too many detailsOK to use technical drawingsGet ser vice engineer to review Modular design
  15. 15. .. Using images }Digital photographsRendered 3D models OperatorsTechnical illustrations }Assembly drawingsPneumatic drawings Ser vice staffElectrical diagrams
  16. 16. 3rd Party Docs Copies in appendix to ser vice manual Rewrite important procedures Check procedures for correctness Ask for translations on timeWriting is not enough skills & knowledge that will come in handy
  17. 17. Digital photographsUse a tripod and no flashCheck whether everything is visibleHigh resolution and little compressionCrop and scale down in PhotoshopCut the environment where neededLink into the document Simplified EnglishDon’t try to be entertainingStructure your descriptionsWrite for maximum redundancyMinimize - and define - the jargonUse Simplified Technical English
  18. 18. Safety regulationsClients often don’t know about themGood documentation is crucialSafety notes must not be overdoneISO 9000 & 14000 and othersCE directives 98/37/EEG and others Reality checkDon’t take procedures for granted Engineers have too much knowledge 3rd party docs are usually for techiesDress to get dirty When in doubt, ask for help
  19. 19. Other servicesBringing in documentation technologyHandling translation outsourcingConsulting on safety issuesBringing help docs into the machineUsability testing of GUI (touchpanels)Consulting on cool new features Questions ? Jang F.M. Graat jang@jang.nl

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