Re: Where did you get your feet wet?

Subject: Re: Where did you get your feet wet?
From: "Simon North" <Simon -dot- North -at- quintiq -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 07 Jun 2005 15:19:16 +0200

Lisa H said:
> As an aside, I wonder how many writers in software documentation
> former programmers who saw the light. Do let me know!

I started at University as a Fortran mainframe programmer (after
starting at hobby level with Commodore Basic and ZX Assembler),
but never really got the hang of it (you could hear the giggles for
miles when I came to collect the reams of pages of output from
my latest attempt to write a simple random number generator). However

The first word processor I was introduced to (a Diamond 7) had a native
Pascal compiler running under CP/M and of course my boss
figured I could write some programs in Pascal to do some interesting
stuff ... and ever since (apart from actually documenting
programming languages) programming has been a pretty essential part of
my writing career. At first it was things like trying to
get IBM DisplayWrite (EBCDIC) to print correctly justified text on an
HP LaserJet (at a time when HP refused to released any details
at all about their Printer Control Language), to typesetting in TeX
(try MetaFont for some real fun), and then in later years to using
languages to automate documentation tasks: Lisp, Perl, Python, Rebol,
and documentation delivery: JavaScript, Java, ASP, PHP and
XSLT. And of course there are also the documentation projects where
they expect you to become familiar enough with the code and
application to be able to do things for yourself, such as write your
own examples, so over the years I've learned to hack in C, C++, C#,
C--, Ada, RTL, Modula2 and 3, Prolog, Verilog, SystemC, SystemVerilog
... and a whole stable of others.

So, I'm sort of the other side of the coin, a software tech writer who
has found to necessary to become a programmer. I wonder how many
of those there are as I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Simon North.


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