Technical writers latch on to XML

XML is beginning to make its presence felt in the technical writing field as the people responsible for writing help systems and product manuals latch on to the latest tools.

XML is beginning to make its presence felt in the technical writing field as the people responsible for writing help systems and product manuals latch on to the latest tools.

Technical Communicators Association head Margery Watson says while technical documents often end in up in print, they still need to be stored digitally.

“XML and XML databases are being used as a means of storing non-structured data, which is what text is,” Watson says.

Watson, whose group, formerly the Technical Writers Association, has “about 200 members and rising”, says technical writers look for tools which enable them to create HTML, for example, without coding, with code generation taking place “under the covers”.

The association is running seminars during the next fortnight at which Australian Tony Self and American Dave Gash will offer instruction in HTML, JavaScript, hypertext document design and writing web-based help systems.

The seminars, in Wellington on September 2 and 3, Christchurch on the 5th and 6th and Auckland on the 9th and 10th, cost $475 a day.

Self, who runs Melbourne company Hyperwrite, says New Zealand technical writers have “a unique advantage — a low cost structure — over the US job market”, where about 15,000 people work as technical writers.

“I already know of Kiwis who earn a decent living doing work for companies across the Tasman. There’s absolutely no reason why technical communicators can’t pick up jobs from across the Pacific or Europe.”

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