Tech writing assignments

At a time when I’m about ready to go flip burgers rather than endure another week here at $job, I’ve been given two technical writing assignments in quick succession. It’s as though my employer suddenly realized the skill that caused them to hire me in the first place, and want to have me do something I’m actually good at!

It’s like a breath of fresh air. I’m actually enjoying myself.

Yeah, I’m one of those strange people that actually enjoys writing technical documentation, and writing “white paper” sort of documents aimed at non-technical people, and, I guess, just writing in general. I think I could happily spend the entire day doing nothing but that.

My only frustration at the moment, in fact, is that I’m compelled to use inferior tools for the job.

I really can’t imagine writing structured documents in Word. How do people do it? I mean, obviously, Word does a lot of things that I don’t know about. But the simple task of writing a structured document, with internal references (see section 12.4) and auto-indexing (TOC as well as a glossary/index at the end) is way beyond my ability. I would have thought that this sort of thing would be really easy. And I expect it probably is, and I just don’t know how. But what point-click-drag-and-drool method could be easier than just typing index{GUI indexing tools} at the point in the text that I want the index to point to?

The amusing thing about this kind of rant is that it elicits exactly two kinds of responses. Either people immediately see my point and agree, or they have no idea what I could possibly be referring to. The latter group tend to be the “well, of course everyone uses Word, silly” group who can’t imagine that there are other ways to do it. (And, although that sounds derogatory, I’m sure that many of these people can produce as-good or better docments using that tool.) The former group, alas, commiserate, but don’t really have a functional solution to offer. Which is very unfortunate.

The whole conversation is here.