Technical Communication

57.1, February 2010

Requirements Specifications and Anticipating User Needs: Methods and Warnings on Writing Development Narratives for New Software

Brian D. Ballentine – Does the use of narratives in software design processes help? This article studies and determines the benefits for technical communicators using narrative to compose and edit software requirements specifications. Specifically, this article is an examination of requirements specifications written for a Web-based radiology application serving the medical industry. The use of narratives not only contributes to the functionality of software, but also leads to technical inventions at the code level.

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The Technical Communication Body of Knowledge Initiative: An Academic-Practitioner Partnership

Nancy W. Coppola – This article chronicles the STC Technical Communication Body of Knowledge process from 2007 to 2009 and provides key elements of a landmark project to develop a body of disciplinary knowledge. The project promises to help technical communicators assess their own level of knowledge and skills, provide easily accessible information for those wanting to hire technical communicators or enter the profession, and define the profession as a specialized set of skills, abilities, and knowledge.

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Editorial: Redesigning Technical Communication … Behind the Scenes

Menno D.T. de Jong – This issue’s editorial describes the redesign process of Technical Communication, specifically focusing on the layout of the journal’s PDFs. In the redesign, several recommendations of the STC Task Force on Publications were used. Three characteristics of the redesign process are discussed: (1) the significant role of concrete design examples, (2) the expertise of technical communication professionals and the usefulness of research, and (3) the importance of simplicity in design.

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List of Reviewers

Between June 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009, 91 practitioners and scholars have contributed to the success of the journal by reviewing one or more manuscripts; often providing the authors with many useful suggestions to further improve their contributions. Many thanks for your insights and efforts.

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Recent & Relevant

Sherry Southard, Editor – Each issue of Technical Communication includes a Recent & Relevant section highlighting and summarizing articles in related journals that may be relevant for technical communication professionals and scholars.

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Tools of the Trade: Review of Five Books on Adobe Illustrator CS4

Louellen S. Coker – Five recent books on the use of Adobe Illustrator CS4 are reviewed and compared. The results are summarized in a table including audience, major strengths, major weaknesses, comments, overall rating, and cost.

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Book Reviews

Avon J. Murphy, Editor – Each issue of Technical Communication includes a Book Reviews section covering the most relevant new books in the field. In this issue, 25 new books are reviewed.

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Capabilities and Roles of Enterprise Wikis in Organizational Communication

Christian Wagner and Andreas Schroeder – How can technical communicators in organizations benefit from wiki technology? This article alerts technical communicators to the possibilities of wiki-based collaborative content creation. It analyzes 32 articles on the use of corporate wikis, and compares them to three media choice theories: media richness theory, theory of media synchronicity, and common ground theory.

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Copyright Law as Mediational Means: Report on a Mixed Methods Study of U.S. Professional Writers

Martine Courtant Rife – How much do technical communication teachers and students composing for the Web know about copyright law? This article reports on the main findings from a mixed-methods study including a digital survey (334 respondents) and discourse-based interviews. The article uncovers and discusses several key misunderstandings about copyright law and chilled speech.

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