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Write the Docs Podcast Profile

Write the Docs Podcast

English, Education, 1 season, 35 episodes, 1 day, 8 hours, 46 minutes
Write the Docs is a series of conferences, local meetups, and Slack groups focused on all things related to software documentation. We consider everyone who cares about communication, documentation, and their users to be a member of our community. This can be programmers, tech writers, customer support, marketers, and anyone else who wants people to have great experiences with software. This podcast is focused on topics discussed and debated within this community.
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WTD Episode 35: Docs for Developers book, with Jared Bhatti and Zachary Sarah Corleissen

In this podcast, we discuss the newly released book Docs for Developers: An Engineer's Field Guide to Technical Writing with Jared Bhatti, staff technical writer at Google, and Zachary Sarah Corleissen, staff technical writer at Stripe (two of the co-authors). This book on writing documentation focuses on the end-to-end writing process (from audience analysis to drafting, editing, publishing, and more) and is written specifically with developers in mind. The authors use the scenario of documenting, an API that translates barks, as a common thread through each of the chapters.
10/31/202157 minutes
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WTD Episode 34: Adding personality to documentation, with Fabrizio Ferri

In this podcast, Fabrizio Ferri joins us for a discussion about adding both personal identity and personality to documentation. Why are the docs we write so often anonymous, and does that anonymity work against progress in our careers? Are tech writers, who are typically introverts, averse to publicity, or does our industry not allow for it? And if you want to be a "personality" in the tech communications world, what do you do? How do you add personality constructively to your work without disrupting corporate brand and consistency?
6/26/202143 minutes, 5 seconds
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WTD Episode 33: Simplified user interfaces, with Anton Bollen

One of the most challenging and frustrating things about being a tech writer is managing screenshots in your product documentation. How many times have you needed to take complex screenshots of your product and meticulously marked them up with callouts only to be told that a field has changed and you need to do everything again? It’s so frustrating and demoralizing as a writer because it feels like wasted effort. What if there was a way to create screenshots that could withstand the rapid iterations of a product under development while still conveying valuable meaning to your readers. Today we’re joined by Anton Bollen from TechSmith who explains how we can do this using low-detail screenshots, aka simplified user interfaces, that let you focus your users' attention on just the bits of the interface that matter.
1/17/202158 minutes, 38 seconds
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WTD Episode 32: Self-publishing and AsciiDoc, with Mehmed Pasic

Many tech writers are familiar with using AsciiDoc for documentation, but did you know that you can also create fiction and non-fiction books with AsciiDoc, publishing to popular digital formats such as EPUB or PDF, along with HTML? In this episode of the Write the Docs podcast, we chat with Mehmed Pasic from Manning Publications about self-publishing, AsciiDoc, collaborative workflows between authors and editors, trends in book publishing, the most popular devices for consuming content, book versus video formats for technical content, and more.
11/1/202054 minutes, 9 seconds
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WTD Episode 31: Strategies for site search, with Peter Levan

So many documentation websites rely on search as part of their information architecture. But what do you actually need to consider if you want to make your site search return answers for users in relevant, efficient ways? Join Peter Levan from Funnelback with regular guests Chris, Jared, and Tom for a talk all about making search work well on your site. Some of the questions discussed include: Why can't you just let Google do the searching and indexing for you? Do you need to pay big money to get a site search tool? How do you make your docs site talk robot?
9/10/20201 hour, 57 seconds
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WTD Episode 30: Documentation templates, with Juan Lara

In this episode, Juan Lara from Google joins us for a lively discussion about documentation templates. Documentation templates refer to established patterns we follow for common documentation types, such as quickstarts, how-to guides, concepts, tutorials, reference, troubleshooting, release notes, FAQs, or other information types that have similar, predictable patterns. Templates can be helpful in orienting new writers, but they can also help ensure consistency among larger groups of experienced writers too. Our discussion in this episode ranges from observations about when templates are right for users versus writers, and how templates fit into an overall content strategy and information architecture. Beyond templates, your user's goals and journeys will influence the shape of your help content.
7/19/20201 hour, 1 minute, 56 seconds
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WTD Episode 29: Salary Survey results and WFH tips, with Eric Holscher

In this episode, we chat with Eric Holscher, co-founder of both Read the Docs and Write the Docs, about the recent Salary Survey that the WTD group conducted. This survey was launched in Fall 2019, and the results published were recently published. The salary survey covers details such as types of employment, job titles, roles, length of time in role, work location, annual salary, salary breakdowns by state, additional benefits, satisfaction, reasons for dissastisfaction, organization type, respondent demographics, and more. In addition to exploring the survey, we also chat about tips for working from home, especially given that both Eric and Chris have been working remotely for many years.
4/12/202056 minutes, 3 seconds
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WTD Episode 28: UX writing - Starting and Scaling at your Company, Berlin WTD meetup

Episode 28 is a recording of a Berlin WTD meetup focused on UX writing processes, live streamed on March 9, 2020 at the Humanitec in Berlin. The meetup featured two speakers. Natasha Sarana, UX Writer at FlixMobility, talks about her company's attempts to include UX Writing in their research routine. She shares the main challenges they faced so far and how they deal with them. The second speaker, Roger Sheen, information architect and freelance UX Writer, talks about how the UI copy process at Wire evolved as the product matured. He covers gathering and aligning copy from source code, moving it to dedicated strings files to facilitate version control and localization, and setting up collaboration workflows with developers and external partners.
3/17/20201 hour, 14 minutes, 54 seconds
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WTD Episode 27: Starting a doc group/process when you're the first

In episode 27 of the Write the Docs podcast, we're joined by Cynthia Ng and Amy Qualls from GitLab to talk about strategies for starting up docs in organizations where there aren't any other tech writers and where you're first on scene setting up shop. What are your first steps as a documentarian when there isn't anyone else, when processes, contacts, tools, and other systems aren't documented or described anywhere? When you're first on scene, docs might not even be your full-time job but rather a task that's on the side of your desk and which you have to bootstrap from ground zero.
2/20/202057 minutes, 43 seconds
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WTD Episode 26: Tech Writing and Reddit, with Alan Bowman

In episode 26, we talk with Alan Bowman about the technical writing forum on Reddit as well as the WTD Slack channel, comparing and contrasting the two spaces. Topics covered include pros and cons of anonymity on the internet, transparency around sensitive or taboo topics (e.g., salary, masters programs, feelings of overwhelm), age/experience demographics for both communities, balancing honesty with professionalism, responding to posts from overwhelmed tech writers, dealing with recurring topics, strategies for participating, and more.
12/31/20191 hour, 4 minutes, 24 seconds
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WTD Episode 25: Researching how developers use API docs, with Andrew Head

In episode 25, we talk with Andrew Head, Ph.D. Candidate in Computer Science at UC Berkeley, about his research on how developers use API documentation. Specifically, we focused on a recent article he co-authored titled When Not to Comment: Questions and Tradeoffs with API Documentation for C++ Projects. During the podcast, we chat about the following: where developers look for information, how developers manage information in Google’s unique billion-line code base, when it's appropriate to just let developers read the code directly versus creating documentation, what kind of information developers look for in API documentation, the relevance of document generators such as Doxygen, and more. Andrew also talked about some projects he's working on to build interactive tools for developers to share code expertise.
10/20/201956 minutes, 14 seconds
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WTD Episode 24: Conference chatter and the Australian scene, with Swapnil Ogale

In this episode, we're joined by the Write the Docs Australia initiator Swapnil Ogale. We talk about conference wind-downs and ramp-ups, highlights from the just-finished WTD Prague conference, speakers announced for upcoming Write the Docs Australia conference, the Good Docs Project, the tech writing scene in Australia, and more.
9/22/201955 minutes, 20 seconds
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WTD Episode 23: How to write inclusive tech documentation, by Lucie Le Naour

In this episode, rather than the usual roundtable discussion, we provide a recording of a WTD Berlin presentation by Lucie Le Naour on how to write inclusive tech documentation. Inclusive documentation takes into account all users, regardless of their gender, culture, or abilities. It uses language that treats different types of people fairly and equally, acknowledging that the words you choose matter in the connotations and attitudes they convey. This presentation was recorded on August 19, 2019 in Berlin.
8/19/201938 minutes, 42 seconds
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WTD Episode 22: Managing multiple doc projects across Git repositories, with Giles Gaskell

In episode 22, Giles Gaskell from Squiz in Australia joins us to talk about managing multiple doc projects across Git repositories through Antora. Giles explains how to establish processes such that updating documentation becomes part of the definition of done, how to manage build process across multiple Gitlab repositories, strategies for distributing doc work across engineers through templates, how to scale workloads when you're the lone technical writer in the company, times when dogfooding your own product for docs makes sense and when it does not, pros and cons of Asciidoc versus Markdown, and more docs-as-code topics.
7/28/20191 hour, 1 minute, 40 seconds
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WTD Episode 21: On career growth, leadership, and mentoring in tech writing, with Becky Todd

In episode 21, Becky Todd from Atlassian joins us to talk about career growth, leadership, and mentoring. How do you move up to the next level at your company? Does upleveling require a management track, or there other ways to increase your leadership and influence? We also chat about mistakes we've made, what we've learned, ways to increase our influence and visibility both inside and outside corporate walls, why we sometimes back away from persuasion efforts, the balance between autonomy and micromanagement, mentoring strategies and opportunities, and other career-related topics within technical communication. We also look at the Season of Docs as an opportunity for getting involved in open source projects.
3/31/201959 minutes, 21 seconds
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WTD Episode 20: Minimum requirements for good tech docs, with Matt Reiner

In episode 20, Matt Reiner from K15t joins us to talk about minimum standards for documentation - what techniques or standards can you put in place to help engineers and other contributors meet the minimum requirement for good tech docs? What essential sections, headings, or topics should you include in templates? And how do you help non-native speakers with grammar issues? We also discuss how tech writers can work with marketing to create honest and interesting writing. There seems to be the feeling that tech writing is dull but accurate and marketing copy is flashy and fluffy - we brainstorm ways technical writers can better align with marketing writers.
3/2/201957 minutes, 15 seconds
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WTD Episode 19: Static site generators, with Jessica Parsons

Jessica Parsons, a documentation engineer from Netlify, joins us for Episode 19 of the WTD Podcast. Jess recently conducted a Static Site Generator workshop at the Australian Write the Docs conference at Melbourne. It was really excellent, and we've been meaning to get Jess on the show for a while to talk shop. In this episode, Jess illuminates the world of static site generators, comparing and contrasting Hugo, Jekyll, Sphinx, Gatsby, and others. Discussions focus on considerations for choosing a static site generator, and how to manage the content they consume, from APIs to Git-tracked markdown files. Headless CMS options like API-driven Strapi and Git-wrapper Netlify CMS make an appearance.
1/31/20191 hour, 2 minutes, 40 seconds
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WTD Episode 18: Recap and thoughts on Write the Docs Australia 2018

In episode 18 of the Write the Docs podcast, we discuss the recent Write the Docs Australia 2018 conference held in Melbourne. Jared was an emcee at the event and shares his inside perspective about what made the event so successful. We dive deep into the unconference format, how to instill the Write the Docs brand into the conference experience, how super volunteers can avoid burnout, what sessions stood out, and more. Also, Chris confesses that he has attended about 40 conferences this year, and explains a few reasons why.
11/25/201850 minutes, 20 seconds
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WTD Episode 17: Structured writing — reasons and approaches

In this Write the Docs podcast episode, we chat with Mark Baker about structured writing, specifically focusing on his new book Structured Writing: Rhetoric and Process. After introducing and defining structured writing, Mark explains the four domains you can add structure: media, document, subject, and management domains. He explains the advantages of working with structure in the subject domain, and why mixing structure across subject and document domains can be inefficient. We also chat about how structured writing connects with SEO and microformats on the semantic web, the limits of structure in Markdown formats, how to implement structure in linking, and more.
10/22/201858 minutes, 38 seconds
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WTD Episode 16: An open-source Grammarly for tech docs?

This episode focuses mainly on testing tools. Last month, some rockstar WTD community members spent a few days at the Pronovix offices in Szeged, Hungary, trying to create a series of open-source testing tools. Specifically, they wanted to create a ‘create a container deployable solution that can automatically check docs’. In more blunt terms, a kind of open-source Grammarly, but integrated into deploys and repositories and focused on tech docs. Host Chris Ward and our podcast guest Anett Pozsar from Szeged (pron. Seg-jed) Hungary also participated in the Test-the-Docs hackathon. Anett recently started in her role as a technical writer, so in this episode we also chat about what it's like starting out as a new technical writer. Finally, we transition from testing tools and linters to templates. Structure and templates can be especially helpful for guiding engineers in writing docs.
9/5/20181 hour, 3 minutes, 31 seconds
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WTD Episode 15: User research, tech writer stereotypes, and conversations

After a short summer break, we've returned to the WTD podcast and taken up our mics again to talk about important doc issues. In this episode, we first chat about assumptions we have regarding our users and the value of doing user research. Basing the discussion on Jen Lambourne's talk at WTD Portland 2018, we talk about ways to capture the user perspective and limitations/workarounds for user research within the corporate domain. Next, we chat about an article by Emily January Petersen on the Make-It-Pretty Philosophy, where the roles of tech writers are reduced to grammar and style editing only, without more substantive updates and revisions to content. Finally, we talk about Tom's research project on healing the academic/practitioner divide and how he hopes his conversation posts will bring both sides more closely together.
7/22/201856 minutes, 11 seconds
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WTD Episode 14: Humanizing your documentation

In this episode, we chat with Carolyn Stransky, a journalist and JavaScript developer living in Berlin, about ways to humanize documentation. We discuss dilemmas with transparency in docs (the balance between honesty and negativity), ways to avoid gendered language (including whether to correct workplace misuse of 'he'), strategies for achieving plain language and clarity (such as by reading your content out loud), the term 'user' and alternatives, how to develop empathy for your audience, why terms like 'simple' and 'easy' are problematic (even in Marketing), tools for identifying insensitivity and complexity in docs (Hemingway, Alex), what makes content sound truly human, and more.
3/22/201852 minutes, 40 seconds
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WTD Episode 13: Postman for API development and docs — Interview with Postman Founder

In this episode, we chat with Abhinav Asthana (founder and CEO of Postman) to explore how Postman, a REST client, can be used to create, collaborate, and publish API documentation. If you work with API documentation, you've probably used Postman to make and test API requests. But you can do also a lot more with Postman. You can embed Run in Postman buttons that contain collections of requests that users can load in their own Postman clients (perfect for getting started tutorials). You can collaborate with engineers on the requests and documentation by syncing collections across a team account. And with just a few clicks, you can also publish and host your documentation through Postman, complete with code samples in multiple programming languages. Check out Postman's API Network to see many ways different companies use Postman in their documentation.
1/22/201852 minutes, 10 seconds
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WTD Episode 12: Founding ideas behind Write the Docs

In this episode, we chat with Eric Holscher (WTD cofounder) and Mikey Ariel (WTD Europe organizer) about the Write the Docs community itself, including origins, founding ideas, goals, challenges, trends, and roadmaps for the community. We dive specifically into idea of diversity of roles (and the term 'documentarian'), the way open source principles inform the community's core values, balancing individual freedom to contribute on one's own terms with the expectations of the WTD experience, and more.
12/13/20171 hour, 2 minutes, 18 seconds
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WTD Episode 11: Combining Forces for Documentation Sources -- Exploring the Mozilla Developer Network's Web Docs project

In this episode of the Write the Docs podcast, we chat with Kadir Topal, product manager for Mozilla Developer Network Web Docs project, about how they manage this large body of documentation for web developers. The MDN project provides standards-based documentation around web development topics (for example, HTML, CSS, and JS) intended for web developers, with the goal of producing consistent experiences for users across browsers. Kadir gives us an inside look into the challenges, goals, and roadmap of this project.
11/27/201751 minutes, 21 seconds
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WTD Episode 10: What's going on in our lives as documentarians and product owners

In this episode, we talk about what's going on in our lives as documentarians and product owners. Chris talks about challenges in collaborating with reviewers in efficient ways. Google Docs works great for gathering comments, but it isn't so good for storing source code in a manageable format. Also, it seems that every company/client has their own preferred toolchain around reviews, and it's hard to know the best approach to take. Jared talks about the ebbs and flows of managing products in the gambling space, and the challenges around benchmarking, performance testing, and uptime demands for the products he manages, especially during the Melbourne Cup. Tom is excited about the docs-as-code milestone reached at his work, where his team can now build and deploy Jekyll directly from the server through commits to an internal git repo. This publishing efficiency allowed their team to get rid of an old, archaic CMS publishing process that was slowing writers down.
10/10/20171 hour, 1 minute, 46 seconds
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WTD Episode 9: Chatbots in Documentation

In this episode, we're joined by Ellis Pratt from Cherryleaf to talk about chatbots in documentation. What are chatbots, and how can you incorporate them in your docs to enhance the user experience? Are chatbots the next evolution of wizards? What are some examples of successful chatbots? How does one get started using chatbots in documentation? Are there chatbot services you can leverage inexpensively to try them out? These are some of the questions explored in this podcast.
9/19/201747 minutes, 50 seconds
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WTD Episode 8: Stack Overflow's Documentation Failure and Open Source Challenges

In this episode, we're joined by Beth Aitman to talk about what happened with the Stack Overflow Documentation Beta. What did Stack Overflow try to do with documentation, and why did they abandon the effort? Why did their effort to crowdsource docs fail but succeed so well with forums and niche content? Additionally, we discuss the difficulties of creating good documentation with open source projects. A recent survey found that incomplete or outdated documentation is the number one issue with open source projects. Why? What makes it so difficult to create documentation on an open source project?
8/22/201750 minutes, 40 seconds
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WTD Episode 7: Let the robots do the work

In this podcast, we first explore the flourishing community of technical writers in Poland, discussing why the tech writing scene in Krakow is taking off so quickly and what trends this young tech writing community is embracing. We're joined by special guest Pawal Kowaluk, a Polish tech writer who runs SOAP (a tech comm conference based in Poland). We also talk about automation and robot takeovers of tech writing jobs. How are machine-assisted technologies enhancing or displacing technical writers and their work? Given the increase in automation, is tool expertise becoming more or less essential to thrive as a technical writer?
7/3/201745 minutes, 51 seconds
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WTD Episode 6: Metadata and UI copy

In this episode, we explore the role of metadata in documentation and how it can be used to classify topics and assist in the discoverability of information. We're joined by special guest Eva Jackolis who explains a strategy for metadata used in German mechanical engineering documentation. We also discuss involving tech writers in UX copy and the challenges inherent in influencing UI copy, product naming, and working with UX designers and product teams.
6/6/201753 minutes, 26 seconds
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WTD Episode 5: Where do we belong?

In this episode, we explore where technical writers belong in an organization. Is tech comm best placed within engineering, marketing, product management, or another group? We also talk about strategies for doc navigation, in particular, the merits of inline links and/or sidebar navigation, using a post from Every Page Is Page One as a starting point. Are hierarchical sidebar menus still useful, or are they a relic of the past? Finally, we provide details about the upcoming Write the Docs conference in Portland, and Chris mentions his new book on responsive design.
4/30/201758 minutes, 10 seconds
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WTD Episode 4: Continuous Integration and Docs like Code

In this episode, we talk about continuous integration strategies for docs (for style, screenshots, and REST calls). We also dive into discussions around docs as code, including how to encourage developer collaboration, how to stay informed about the code updates that developers make, and more.
3/5/201758 minutes, 10 seconds
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WTD Episode 3: Technical writing trends for 2017

In this episode, we discuss top technical writing trends for 2017. Chris discusses how more technical writers are interacting with support groups, and even being embedded within support departments. Jared discusses how docs are being planned for earlier in development cycles, as more product managers are seeing the value of docs. Tom talks about how more technical writers are treating documentation as code, and the challenges inherent in developer tools and workflows.
1/25/201748 minutes, 31 seconds
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WTD Episode 2: Findability -- helping users find what they're looking for

In episode 2 of the Write the Docs podcast, we explore how to help users find what they're looking for in your documentation. We talk about various tools for findability: search, tags, faceted filters, sidebar navigation, inline links, related links, terms/glossaries, and breadcrumbs.
12/18/201655 minutes, 21 seconds
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WTD Episode 1: This week in tech comm

In this first episode, we introduce the co-hosts, the podcast theme, and chat about a few articles. The four co-hosts include Jared Morgan, Carlee Potter, Chris Ward, and Tom Johnson. We're located in Sydney, Brisbane, Berlin, and California. In this episode, we chat about content strategy, style guides, abbreviations and acronyms, developer-written UI copy, and more.
11/19/201659 minutes, 15 seconds