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Report from Write the Docs Australia conference

Last week I attended Write the Docs Australia 2018 in Melbourne. Around 100 documentarians gathered to discuss words, code, style, and other essentials relating to technical documentation. There was plenty of food and fun too.

“What’s a documentarian,” you may be wondering? In Write the Docs parlance, a documentarian is someone who cares about documentation. Documentarians include technical writers and communicators, as you’d expect, but also UX writers, software engineers, marketing content writers, and more. If you think docs are a Good Thing, you’re in. 🙂

Approximately 100 people attended Write the Docs AU this year. Attendees came from Australia, the APAC region, and around the world. The following photo is from the Write the Docs photo set on Flickr:

Talks, workshops, and unconference sessions

The talks included:

  • Lana Brindley: Facebook, Dynamite, Uber, Bombs, and You
  • Mike Hamilton: Responsive Content – Presenting Your information On Any Device
  • Kristine Sihto: The Art of Consistency – Creating an inhouse style guide
  • Abhay Chokshi: UX writing – Let your product speak
  • Alexandra Perkins: Making Yourself Redundant on Day One – Internal documentation to teach the next hire what you’ve learned
  • Matthew Borden: Good Code, Bad Code & Code Review
  • Nicola Nye: The subtle art of interrogation
  • Daniel Stevens: Creating experiences with information!
  • Laura Bailey: Backseat Content Strategy
  • Mathew Patterson: Power up your support team to create better documentation

In addition to the presentations, we heard a number of informative, entertaining lightning talks. People could choose to attend one or more workshops and run or participate in a few thought-provoking unconference sessions.

These were the workshops:

  • Sarah Maddox: Tech Writing 101
  • Sara Marek: Let’s create a Style Guide!
  • Jessica Parsons: Static Site Generators, What, Why and How

Tech Writing 101 workshop

Around 50 people attended the Tech Writing 101 workshop, which I ran with the able help of Eric Gilmore.

This tech writing stuff is hard. But fun!

Tech Writing 101 is a two-hour workshop on the principles and techniques of technical writing. It leads the participants through a series of pair-work exercises to improve the clarity, readability, and effectiveness of their writing. You can read more about the workshop on the Write the Docs AU page.

By the end of the session, participants also think differently about toothbrushes.

The workshop pre-reading is available in LisaFC’s GitHub repo. A number of the workshop attendees let me know that they plan to introduce that pre-reading to their colleagues, as it’s a great introduction to the patterns of clear writing.

Photos and videos

Photos are in the Write the Docs photo set on Flickr. Videos of the presentations are in the Write the Docs AU playlist on YouTube.

Tweets and write-ups

Read the tweets at #WriteTheDocsAU. Here’s one of them from Nicola Nye:

Have you written a report on the conference, or come across someone else’s writeup? Let me know by adding a comment to this page or tweeting @sarahmaddox!

My takeaway from the conference

So many people who’re passionate about docs! It was a privilege chatting to engineers, UX designers and writers, and marketing folks, as well as other technical communicators. Thanks to everyone for a great conference!

 

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