TechWhirl: Technical Communication Recap for August 31, 2012

This week’s update on technical communication and the TechWhirl community is supported by Platinum sponsor ComponentOne & their Doc-To-Help Help Authoring Tool |

The sun is setting on our month-long look at Spy vs. Spy: Tech Comm vs MarCom. As one of those folks who has worked happily on both sides of this chasm, I’ve come to believe that great communicators have a lot more in common than not.  Whether you work in technical communication or marketing communication, or both, you need to acquire knowledge of the customers and the product/service. You need to convey compelling, useful information, and support a relationship with customers.  You need to align with company strategy on brand, service and customer relationships. The tactics and the style change from one discipline to another, and from one company to another, but the underlying principles seem to be pretty universal.  Read “It’s All Marketing Communication,” by Alissa Martine and “It’s All Technical Communication,” by Alan Houser and see if you don’t agree.   Whether you agree or disagree, we’d love to have you share your viewpoint by posting a comment, or starting a thread on the email discussion list.

Take some time to read Al Martine’s interview with Dan Beall of Doc-to-Help, discussing how ComponentOne’s acquisition by GrapeCity is great for the product and the user base. This week’s poll asks whether you believe technical communicators or marketers have better career prospects. It may be a case of the grass is always greener somewhere else, or there may be some real trends hidden among the votes. So far the results have been about evenly split, and we’d sure like to hear from folks in both camps on why they feel the way they do.

The poll sets the stage for our September look at “Your Career: Upgrade in Progress.” Probably nothing is more unique to the individual technical communication practitioner than the career path they take. During the month we’ll look at a variety of topics, including choosing between being independent consultant or a corporate team player, using distance learning for professional development, work/life balance issues and much more.  Do you have a career upgrade topic you’d like to see us cover? Drop us a note and tell us about it. And while you’re at it, if you’re interested in becoming a regular contributor to TechWhirl’s Tech Writer Today, there’s always room for one more in the lifeboat.

Don’t forget to sign up for our TechWhirl Fast 5 interview series – live video chats with some of the leading lights in technical communication.  They all start at noon (eastern), and you can ask you own questions using the Twitter hashtag #TWFast5. On September 5, we’re joined by the Adobe Technical Communication Suite 4 product team to discuss the recent launch.

Speaking of work and such, Monday is the Labor Day holiday in the U.S., and we encourage our US community to make the most of it. I know we will.


-The gang at TechWhirl

  Tech Writer This Week for August 23, 2012Perhaps in homage to the start of new school years around North America, the technical communication communities on the web offered up a treasure trove of worthy how-to content, with a bit of theory and methodology thrown in for good measure. The importance of software documentation types, the technical part of technical communication, plus dashboards, wireframes, curation tools, mind maps and more.
  The Great Debate: It’s All Technical CommunicationTechWhirl may be in one of the best positions ever to present both sides of this great, and long-standing debate. We’ve got lots of exposure to and experience in both technical communication and marketing. However, in the interests of fairness and objectivity, we decided that asking a thought leader to defend the statement “It’s all Technical Communication” with the answers to five sort of simple questions about the critical role and value of Technical Communication in an organization. The president of the Society of Technical Communication (STC) seemed like a great candidate, and Alan Houser graciously accepted the challenge.
  The Great Debate: It’s All Marketing CommunicationTechnical Communication and Marketing Communication professionals often seem to be at odds with each other in providing content about the products and services offered by organizations. At TechWhirl we want to explore how technical communication and marketing communication intersect, overlap, merge, or compete. So we asked our resident expert, Alissa Martine, to answer five simple (well, maybe not simple) questions on the role and essential value of marketing communications to a business.
  Technical Communication Poll: Best Career ProspectsAll through August we’ve been talking about Spy vs. Spy (or Spy versus Spy for the pickier among us). We’ll top off our coverage tomorrow with the Great Debate: “It’s all Marketing” or “It’s all Technical Communication.” This is also the time of the year when many technical communication professionals decide it’s time to get serious about new career directions. So this week’s poll ties the two together nicely and asks…
  A New One: GrapeCity and ComponentOne—The Future of Doc-to-HelpOn Monday, June 11, 2012 GrapeCity announced the acquisition of Pittsburgh based ComponentOne Software. While close strategic partners since the 1990s, this announcement nonetheless took many in the industry by surprise. Dan Beall, Product Manager for ComponentOne’s Doc-To-Help software, added some detail to the acquisition, how it has affected his team, and what fans of this software should expect in the future.

Technical Communication News

Social Media and the Chance to Follow TechWhirl:


We want to send a very special “thank you” to our sponsors for their support.

Platinum: Adobe Systems Incorporated

Gold: ComponentOne Software, Madcap Software

Silver: Society for Technical Communication (STC), Vancouver Island University

Subscribe to TechWhirl via Email