Doing a podcast interview about technical writing
History, tools, and more.
After listening to hundreds of podcast interviews over the years I finally got to be the subject of one myself. Nikhil Krishna interviewed me for the Software Engineering Radio podcast, which is sponsored by the IEEE.
It was titled Bob DuCharme on Creating Technical Documentation for Software Projects. I’m going to quote the episode page’s list of topics we discussed, but to practice one of the things I preached, I will convert that page’s description to a bulleted list:
The difference between different types of documentation and the audiences they target
The importance of using proper grammar and clarity in writing good documentation that people want to read
Other forms of documentation (images, video and audio)
Challenges of maintaining and updating documentation
Keeping documentation in sync with products
Toolchains for building documentation
History of software documentation tooling and standards
Another important topic we covered was working with other people in a tech organization such as developers and marketing people.
After my discussion of XML’s role in the history of technical documentation in the interview (basically, a retelling of this history of XML that I wrote several years ago) I was happy to see that the Software Engineering Podcast does offer an RSS feed for people to track the podcast guests and topics. You can find other blog entries that I’ve written on tech writing topics in the category documenting software in this blog. The podcast episode page has links to additional relevant material.
One thing I regretted forgetting to mention in the interview, when we were discussing writing style, was George Orwell’s classic essay Politics and the English Language. I had meant to recommend that everyone read it but pretend that the title is “Technology and the English Language”.
So if you’re interested in doing technical writing or just being involved with technical writing tasks, you might find this podcast episode useful.
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