Comparison between Aerospace and Software Technical Writer

Have you ever wondered on how to use your technical writing skill to enhance your career growth and be a versatile technical writer?

Do you wish to work for various domains and explore yourself in the field of technical communication?

Whether you are an Aerospace technical writer, Mechanical technical writer or a Software technical writer all that matters is your technical writing skills, knowledge, readiness to learn, update yourself with the latest trend in technical communication and an expertise in gathering information.

A technical writer is not differentiated on the domain knowledge, instead he is differentiated on the standards followed to create a document. Yes, it is true that domain knowledge is an important aspect, but is this not one of the most important skills a Technical Writer should have. Of-course, gaining domain knowledge as quickly as possible and with a minimal training is not easy but it is not a milestone either. To achieve milestones you have to give extra efforts and display the extraordinary skills you have.

All documentation processes are same, but the terminologies vary. People who hire technical writers look for terminologies. For example: In Aerospace domain ASD- STE 100 (Simplified Technical English) is the most basic skill required, where as in Software industry STE is not mandatory, instead Microsoft Manual of Style.

In this blog, I am trying to explain the similarity and difference between the Aerospace documentation as compared to Software industry documentation.

If you are working for aerospace industry, you must be aware of ASD-STE 100, ATA 100, S1000D, Ispec2200 etc.

If you are working for software industry, you must be aware of MSTP, Chicago Manual of style, DDLC, SDLC etc.

Now looking at both the instance, you may feel the process followed by technical writing is completely different in both the industry, but to your surprise only the standard followed to create a document differs. Not only the standards, but also the documents that are required in both the fields are different.

Let’s look into the process…….. (Similarities)

The Technical Writer’s role remains the same – Understand the end user, analyzing the task, collecting information and then incorporating it into the document.

The review process also remains the same – Buddy/peer review, Language review, technical review and final review before publishing the document.

During the documentation process, you may also get involved in daily stand-up meetings (scrum meetings), weekly meetings, interviewing SMEs, project planning (agile methodology), topic based authoring, so on and so forth.

By now, you must have an idea that the process flows in the same direction but how does it differs.

The only difference is in incorporation as the standard followed is different.

The below table can help us to understand the difference

Aerospace Industry Software Industry
Writing Style ASD-STE 100

MSTP

Structure S100D, Ispec2200

MSTP

Source Available

Engineering drawings, wiring diagrams, schematics, engineering hardware, bill of material, etc

Meeting with product developers, screenshots, UI (user interface),etc
Knowledge required Knowledge of engineering activities Knowledge of coding language
Manuals AMM (Aircraft Maintenance Manual), CMM (Component Maintenance Manual), IPC (Illustrated Parts Catalogue), etc.

User Guide, User Manual, API Documentation, Reference Guide, Release Note,Online Help, etc.

Writing Skill Critical

Logical

Tools used for authoring depends on the organization, like in software industry for online help most common tool used is Robohelp.

Gipsy/Gidoca (authoring tool) is used for Airbus, which is a single sourcing publication tool.

Common tools used are Adobe FrameMaker, Arbor text editor, etc.

My real motive behind writing this blog, is to unite all the Technical writers and help them in understanding that being a technical writer, we can develop and maintain any manual, provided we give our best efforts to understand the domain.

Comments

  1. Krishnaraj.K

    Thanks for your post. Comparison made me easy to understand.

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