Re: Software For Students

Subject: Re: Software For Students
From: Bill Swallow <bill_swallow -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2001 11:54:01 -0800 (PST)

> > 2) A screen capture tool such as SnagIt or
> PaintShopPro
> Don't need. Learn to use ALT-Print Screen and a
> graphics program. Its easier,
> cheaper, and works on all PCs.

Agreed. Teach at the ground level. The tools are there
to expedite the work.

> > 3) Adobe Acrobat (full suite)
> Good to have. Its expensive though.

Not too bad... $250 for non-educational licences. I'm
sure a college could get a full copy from Adobe at a
fraction of the cost.

> You already have a web authoring tool in Office:
> Front Page. Despite the
> emotional problems some people have with Front Page,
> it works just fine for
> learning the basics.

Hell, teach them in Notepad. Once they know the
markup, a tool is easy to pick up, regardless what it

> > 5) A page layout program such as Adobe PageMaker
> Probably a little excessive, but worth knowing.

I'd suggest Quark Xpress over PageMaker. I know a lot
of folks in the publishing business, and they all work
with Quark more than PageMaker.

> > 6) Graphics programs such as Visio and Photoshop
> Visio yes. All writers should know how to flowchart.

Knowing how to flowchart doesn't require a software
tool. Sure, it makes life easier, but a good ol' pen
and paper or chalkboard work just as well.

> I would use Paint Shop Pro for graphics. Its cheaper
> and does plenty. Photoshop
> is a little more power then you'll probably ever
> need and it is VERY expensive.

Agreed. PSP gives most techwriters more functionality
than they will ever need. Photoshop even more so.

> > 7) FrameMaker
> Pretty much mandatory. 5.5.6 is out there for cheap
> and the differences to 6.0
> are hardly worth the price.

Of course if you want to work for an IBM shop you
should teach BookMaster. *g* (Sorry, local job
searching frustrations bubbling up to the surface.)

> If you really want to teach people help, do it the
> old fashion way with
> Microsoft's old Help Workshop. You'll be forced to
> learn the intricacies of
> help systems and how they work. If you want to be
> lazy, get RoboHelp.

Though I agree, I think working with the compiler may
be over many students' heads. But, you do want them to
learn the concepts more then the tools. Exposure is
good, but knowledge is key.

> That should get them 9/10ths of the way on tools,
> but tools are only about
> 1/10th of tech writing. But that's another debate.

Again, though exposing them to "industry standard"
tools is a good thing, the primary focus should be on
method, not tool. Teach a writer RoboHelp and he'll go
to conferences. Teach a writer the nuts and bolts of
Help authoring and she'll speak at conferences. *g*

Bill Swallow
Information Design & Development Professional
bill_swallow -at- yahoo -dot- com -
List Owner, HATT <>
List Owner, WWP-Users <>
Editor, InFrame Magazine <>
WebWorks Wizard

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