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Writing A Software Technical Reference Manual (part 1)
Writing code is easy. Explaining it is a whole new ball game.

| Talking Geek |

If you've been following this column regularly, you already know the basics of writing a user manual. It's pretty simple - put yourself in the mind of the user, and try to answer his or her most frequently asked questions in a concise and effective manner.

This article, however, deals with a different beast, one that is not so easy to tame - the Software Technical Reference Manual (STRM). Written especially for developers, programmers, software architects and other assorted geeks, it's usually filled with technical gobbledygook and complex diagrams illustrating the guts of a software application. It's complicated, intimidating and usually fairly stressful to write...and they'd usually like it yesterday, please.

Over the next few pages, I'm going to offer you a few tips and techniques, culled from my own experiences, that might help in making the process of developing such a manual less painful. As you'll see, proper planning and the right attitude can play an important role here, enabling you to both get your arms around the technical details and compile them into a usable, structured format that serves the needs of your customer.

Let's get going!

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