Tom Johnson - How Trends in API Documentation Differ from other Tech Comm Trends: Results from a Comprehensive Survey

API the Docs Virtual Event Series 2020 Recap

This talk was presented at API The Docs Virtual 2020 event series on 27 May. We are glad to present the video recording, slide deck and talk summary below. Enjoy!

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Tom Johnson

Senior Technical Programmer Writer at Amazon

Tom's slides

Tom's presentation (video recording)

Tom Johnson recently gathered information from more than 400 respondents from all around the world working in tech comm through a comprehensive 50-question survey. The survey focuses on how the trends of developer documentation differ for those working in API docs from those working with other types of docs. What is the greatest difference in methodology from other tech comm spaces?

Main topics of the survey:

  • Tools
  • Outputs
  • Processes
  • APIs
  • Profile

In his talk, Tom presents and analyzes the findings of the research that can help orient, direct, and validate the experiences of technical writers working in the dev docs space.

Some questions that were raised by the results of the survey:

  • What authoring tools do technical communicators use the most for collaboration, internal communication, writing, managing and publishing content?

“What answer should you provide when someone asks you what tool you use? Is it the editor? Is it Markdown? Is it the static site generator? The build and deployment mechanism? Internal review tools?”

  • Do tools influence content?

“If you pick up a pencil does the output you create differ from what you would create with a keyboard?”

  • Do technical writers follow Docs-as-code
  • Dev docs vs. API docs: Are they equivalent?
  • Do tech writers play a great role in developing their company’s publishing solutions?
  • What are the biggest challenges you face in working with dev docs?
  • What platforms are used to host and publish documentation and to provide CI/CD?
  • How intellectual property concerns are addressed in the tech comm?

Check the survey results or find out more about the webinar.

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