In the last while, I have occasionally written something that resembles a review of technical communication editing tools. As we enter a new string of product releases, I’d like to take a moment to explain where I’m coming from, and why I do these the way I do.
No Longer Writing
In recent years, I’ve almost completely stopped developing technical content. I do architecture and design, training, consulting – but I rarely actually open an editor and write anything that looks like a technical communication product anymore.
I only feel comfortable evaluating the general trend of evolution in products that I have actually used in daily production, and that is why I have covered only two companies’ products:
- Adobe’s Technical Communication Suite
- SyncRO Soft’s oXygen XML suite
Aside from word processors and early versions of Interleaf (which still exists, under the name Quicksilver), these are the only editors that I have used personally to develop technical content.
In the past, I have indicated that both of these companies provide me with free access to their software – not for review purposes, but for other projects.
It’s important to make it clear, that when you have a close relationship with a company, you’re not going to write a negative review of their product. On the other hand, I doubt I’d want to go on working with a company whose product I did not appreciate.
So, you can be sure that if I review a product, it’s because I have an overall positive view of it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t review it. Period.
Absence is Not Disapproval
So, does the absence of other product reviews here mean I don’t like them? Absolutely not. There are lots of other products out there that seem interesting to me, even really fascinating, and I maintain equally friendly relationships with many of their publishers.
I haven’t reviewed these other products simply because I’ve never had enough opportunity to use them in a production situation, and I don’t think it is fair to judge a product that I only know from demonstrations.
In the end, I don’t think what I write about these products are really reviews, and I don’t think they should be – both because I am not totally disconnected from the publishers, and because I’m pretty sure that I can contribute better to an understanding of the appropriate use for these products by commenting on their direction, trend, and philosophy, rather than their features.
I always disclose my connections, and I always reserve the right to an independent opinion. That’s how I think I can best serve both you, the readers of this blog, and the companies who seem to value my ideas.
I hope you all agree, and derive benefit from my attempt to walk this path.
2 thoughts on “How the Humanist Nerd Approaches Software Tools”