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Fitting Technical Writing into Agile Development

Technical writing is not a topic often discussed in agile, perhaps because it is not as blood-pumping as other topics. But the role of technical writers is as important on agile projects as in other projects, except that the role becomes more challenging to do well. In an article for AgileConnection, Robert Spielman discusses how technical writing changes to align with agile development.

Technically Inclined

The biggest change for technical writers in agile projects is that they themselves will have to become a part of the agile team, at least to an extent. Agile necessarily asks that upfront requirements capturing be brief, so for technical writers to know what information is accurate and worth recording, they must be having regular conversations with the team. It is just the only option for drawing information reliably. Spielman says technical writers should be present for all ceremonies that relate to what the writers have to deliver.

Furthermore, technical writers are being expected to write for platforms beyond just Microsoft Word:

Today, there are many XML- and topic-based authoring tools that enable technical writers to document in reusable and easily edited chunks of knowledge. Software such as MadCap Flare and Adobe FrameMaker are a couple of examples. The benefit of creating reusable content is that if a requirement changes (which happens all the time with the agile process), the technical writer can make the change in one place instead of having to search countless documents and change each one individually. This type of documentation also makes content review more manageable within the time confines of a one- or two-week sprint cycle.

Changes like these allow technical writers’ workflows to agree with agile teams’ workflows, so that documentation may stay current in an organic way.

You can view the original article here:

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid’s Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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