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Technical Documentation - A Must-Have Element

By Jean-Baptiste Sachot, 11:10 AM on September 22, 2016

An Analysis

Along with the product, a technical documentation should be delivered with technical instructions, installation guides, user manuals, online helps, etc. But this is not always the case today.

Furthermore, technical information is sometimes difficult to access, either impossible to find or lost in a mass of information, or too complicated. It can be really discouraging.

Finally, reading and understanding information takes time. Often that time is hard to find, especially when you find yourself blocked by your program. The user will want to find a quick solution to his problem.

The Solution

Initially relegated to technicians or engineers when they had "time to kill", companies now no longer hesitate to ask a documentation specialist for help instead.

As an expert in content analysis, curious and attentive, the documentation specialist knows how to synthesize information to make it accessible to the greatest number.


The Technical Writer or Content Developer

Like his fellow developers, the technical writer must "code", structure information using appropriate working methods[1] and technical tools[2] based on computer languages[3].

With one goal in mind: to meet the user’s needs, whether the customer would be final or internal.

To do so, the fundamental issues that the technical writer constantly keeps in mind are:

  • What are the user’s objectives?
  • What are the tasks to be achieved?
  • What procedures must the user follow exactly?
  • How will it impact on the rest of his business?
  • What are the precautions?

Then, the technical writer must present information in a pleasant, consistent and concise way. And, if necessary, he can use graphics while facilitating the access to the information, through search engines or dedicated websites.

The Agility of the Technical Writer

Working software over comprehensive documentation - Manifesto for Agile Software Development[4].

Although this assertion is quite true, it might suggest that documentation becomes obsolete. That is why the technical writer must also be Agile. As an integral part of the product development cycle, through methods such as Scrum[5], he is always aware of the development of the tool to be documented.

Therefore, we do no longer talk about comprehensive documentation but about relevant documentation.

The Evolution

Accessing the information has never been as open and wide as today, and the easy-to-use connected objects (smartphone, tablets) require the use of more complex development tools... that should always be documented.

Technical writers, content developers, documentation specialists and other information managers, it’s left up to you!


[1] Task-Oriented Information Modelling (TIM)

[2] MadCap Flare

[3] XML Extensible Markup Language

[4] Manifesto for Agile Software Development


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