I’m putting together a presentation about Tech Comm on a Map, the app that shows technical communication events and groups around the world. What would you like to know about the web app and the Android app for Tech Comm on a Map?
It’s a little scary for a tech writer to create and publish an app. Actually, it’s a little scary for anyone. Are you curious about any particular aspects of why I did it, what the results are, or anything else? If I can, I’ll weave the answers into the presentation.
I’ll be speaking about Tech Comm on a Map at STC Summit 2017 in May, and possibly at other events after that. At the moment, I’m writing the presentation based on my early proposal and outline. I’m having fun! But before I get too invested in what I think is fun, I’d love to hear what other people think too.
The theme for STC Summit 2017 is “Gain the Edge to Get Results“.
Here’s the blurb and outline from the proposal I sent to the STC Summit committee.
As an API technical writer, it’s hard to put yourself in the shoes of your readers. They’re application developers. They’d rather read code than prose.
One way of grokking this audience is to develop an app yourself.
This presentation tells the story of a tech writer, a map, and an app. The app is Tech Comm on a Map, an interactive web-based map that shows events of interest to technical communicators. You’ll hear why Sarah decided to create an app and how she went about it. You’ll see some code and understand the nuts and bolts of the app: where the data is stored, how it gets there, how it ends up on a map for everyone to see.
Tech Comm on a Map is an app for technical communicators, and technical communicators contribute to the data. Sarah will describe the process of crowd-sourcing the data and open-sourcing the app: what went well, what went slowly, what’s still going.
Writing an app has helped Sarah understand her audience (software engineers), her subject matter (APIs), and her profession (technical communication). Come and see how.
It’s hard to create an app. It’s even harder to get the app published and make it available to other people. That’s true whether you’re a developer or a technical writer. You need to put yourself on the edge and take the jump. You need courage, strength of conviction, and knowledge. Above all, you need documentation and examples. They give you the edge.
By taking the jump into app development, Sarah has gained first-hand knowledge of what developers go through. She applies this knowledge to the documentation she writes. It’s also a lot of fun!
At this session, you’ll learn the technical details:
- How the app’s data is crowd-sourced.
- What open sourcing your code means, and why you may want to do it.
- The difference between a web-based application and a mobile app, from a developer’s as well as a user’s point of view. Tech Comm on a Map is available as a native Android app as well as a webapp.
- The information sources that Sarah used when developing the app.
You’ll also see how such a project can help develop your soft skills:
- Sarah’s engineering colleagues helped her kick off the development of the app, and made ongoing suggestions for refinement. The resulting interactions increased mutual understanding and respect.
- Fellow technical writers all over the world help compile the data. A project like this is a good way of connecting with your peers.
- Developing an app can help you better understand your subject and your audience of software engineers and other specialists.
- Such a project gives you confidence in your own abilities, even if you’re just skimming the surface of code complexity.
See Tech Comm on a Map in action at https://sarahmaddox.github.io/techcomm-map.
What are you curious about?
Does the above description raise any specific questions in your mind? Is there something you’re very keen to find out? Let me know, and I’ll include it in the presentation if I can.