a technologist and a writer, I continue to scan the landscape
for happenings and trends in this vibrant field and thought
Id dedicate this column to a trend that has been in the West
for a long time but has caught on in India during the past
four or five years. The trend I am talking about is the coming
of age of tech writing (that is TW for those in the vocation).
I had been observing the trends in this nascent sub-segment
of IT for a while and began looking more closely after reading
the article Technical writing: On the write note published
in Express Computer. I also began researching this topic by
talking with a few Indian tech writers and then corresponding
with several others over e-mail.
is tech writing and who are the pioneers in India? Rahul Prabhakar,
technical writer with the CRM group at Oracle India, Bangalore
feels that technical writing has come a long way in India.
He adds, Not many people were fully aware, especially in
this part of the world, until the need for good documentation
was realised and hard-felt by several product development
organisations across the country. There was also a major initiative
to control the rising cost on the support and reduce customers
dissatisfaction. Now, several services and product development
organisations hire technical writers to streamline their line
of business across all verticals. But sadly, it still remains
a support function in most software development organisations.
from the article, to quote Ravishankar R, manager for the
documentation group, Global Development Centre at Cisco India:
Till the 1990s technical writing was unknown in India. TCS
was the first to recognise the need for technical writers
and began developing a documentation team. At first engineers
entered this field and they were responsible for technical
writing. The trend changed with market conditions and a combination
of communication and technical skills is becoming mandatory.
Experience in using new tools such as RoboHelp and FrameMaker
for creating content became an added advantage.
a career in writing requires a strong grounding in grammar,
fundamental study of the language (English) and an understanding
of the basics, a stronger functional and technical focus is
increasingly becoming the norm. Where earlier people with
liberal arts and English background were preferred, companies
are increasingly looking to hire engineers and functional
specialists with a flair for writing. Saravanan Manoharan,
a technical documentation Engineer with think3 Designs, a
BTech, Computer Science, graduate says, Some five years back,
to be a technical writer an English background was a must.
But with emerging technologies, companies look for tech writers
with engineering background. Before, they used to recruit
tech writers with English background, ask them to undergo
an induction programme for one or two months to learn the
technologies and then start the documentation work. Now, they
are trying to recruit tech writers with engineering background,
so they can shorten the induction programme to start with
documentation work right away.
trend in the increasing demand for high-quality tech writers
is only bound to continue as Indian organisations undertake
more high-end technology focused work. Increasing focus on
product development would mean a renewed interest in documentation
and consequent need for documentation experts. Similar will
be the need for documentation experts as we move up the value
chain in other segments of the technology spectrum too. This
shift in focus also means that individuals are increasingly
opting for tech writing as a mainstream career choice instead
of landing a job in this field because of lack of alternatives.
Professional bodies like the Society for Technical Communication
(STC) and Technical Writers of India (TWIN) are also gaining
prominence with members using the common forums to network,
further the profession and seek better opportunities. There
are also several yahoo groups and online forums where technical
writing professionals exchange notes.
and training institutions in several major metros have also
caught on the trend and are beginning to provide training
in this nascent field. Though such training courses continue
to be a small blimp in the whole IT training segment, they
are making strides nevertheless. As I mentioned towards the
beginning of this column, the tech writing is poised for takeoff