On course for getting IT right

A Sheffield firm that makes its money out of turning the "technospeak" of the software industry into words anyone can understand is offering a helping hand to smaller firms in the IT industry.

Techscribe, whose founder, Dr Mike Unwalla, was recently named Principal UK Expert for Software Documentation by the British Standards Institute, is staging a one-day course for people in the software industry who need assistance in writing user guides, manuals and online help systems.

Dr Unwalla says the vast majority of UK software houses are quite small and could not afford the help of a professional technical writer.

"There are thousands of tiny companies developing software who need to produce manuals and help files. Software developers are notoriously poor at presenting their software because they have a very technical focus and don't take the user's perspective.

"They should be good at it. They are very good at synthesising information and a lot of things are mechanical. The problem is, no one has ever shown them how to do it," he adds.

Dr Unwalla suspects that a lot of software writers don't really like producing manuals and help files because it stops them writing software - but, if they know how to make the job easier and less of a chore, they might be able to do it quicker and better - and get back to writing software that users understand and appreciate sooner.

There are only eight places on the Techscribe Author Training Course, which takes place on June 7 at The Gateway Meeting Place in Sheffield.

The course will cover topics such as typical problems with poor documentation, writing in plain English, avoiding jargon, standard user guide structure, using the active voice, defining tasks, cross-references and tips on style sheets.

Further information is available from Mike Unwalla at Techscribe, tel (0114) 266 6933, e-mail: mike@techscribe.co.uk or visit www.techscribe.co.uk.