APIs and SDKs: Breaking into and Succeeding in a Specialty Market

Seminar presented by API/SDK documentation expert Ed Marshall, Marshall Documentation Consulting in Boston.

Cost: $195 per person (includes breakfast and lunch)
When: Saturday, August 28, 2010, 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Where: Best Western Pony Soldier Inn, 9901 NE Sandy Blvd., Portland, OR

Since the early 1990s, the demand for application programming interface (API) and software development kit (SDK) documentation for developers has grown rapidly and shows no signs of declining. At the same time, there’s a shortage of writers in this niche. They enjoy a steady income, higher hourly rates, and often the luxury of telecommuting.

Contrary to some perceptions, API/SDK writers are typically not computer programmers. They’re technical writers who are detail oriented, who know how to glean information for documentation by reading developers’ code and communicating well with developers. Although having familiarity with one or more programming languages is important, technical writers can leverage skills they already have to add value to API/SDK documentation, such as the ability to organize information, recognizing where important gaps in the content exist, and providing consistency in content and use of terms.

How do you enter and succeed in this market? Join Ed Marshall, a nationally recognized expert in API/SDK writing, for an introduction to this world of writing documentation for software developers on Saturday, August 28. During this all-day, hands-on workshop, you will learn:

  • What APIs and SDKs are and the similarities and differences between them.
  • Who uses APIs and SDKs and why.
  • The benefits and drawbacks of API/SDK writing.
  • How to gather information, primarily by reading the software code. For example, which files do you read? Which programming keywords are important?
  • What information you can get from the source code and what to look for. What information you can’t get from reading the source code.
  • Hands-on exercises using Doxygen and Javadoc to generate typical online documentation from a set of C and Java source code files.
  • The skills you need to succeed, including common programming concepts, software applications used for creating these documents, and tips for adding value based on your technical knowledge.
  • Where to find training.

Ed will also show examples of typical API/SDK documents and demonstrate the software tools used to generate documentation from the developers’ source code. He will allocate ample time for participants to practice with these tools. Laptops are needed to complete the hands-on exercises. All the software needed will be provided by the instructor for installing on your laptop.

About the Instructor

Ed Marshall is an independent technical writing consultant and sole proprietor of Marshall Documentation Consulting, with more than 22 years of experience. He specializes in APIs/SDKs (application programming interfaces/software development kits), Web services products, and other types of documentation aimed at developers. Throughout his career, Ed has developed expertise in using tools to “let the computer do the work,” such as advanced tools for editing files, comparing files, and searching and replacing text in files.

Ed is a popular speaker at a variety of professional development conferences, locally and nationwide. His previous appearances include events sponsored by the Society for Technical Communication (STC), WritersUA, and DocTrain.

For more details and to register, see www.tabbycatco.coml.

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