After doing technical writing off-and-on throughout my writing career, I accepted my first full-time technical writing contract in 2016. I’ve done a range of contracting and in-house technical writing, getting more and more developer-focused and culminating in my current role in Developer Education at MongoDB.
Since joining the MongoDB Developer Education team working on the Realm documentation (January 2021 - present), I’ve had an opportunity to massively grow my development skills. My dedicated task is to document the Realm Swift SDK, which has added a ton of great features and stability fixes even just since I’ve joined. This role involves creating new documentation, tested code examples, and sample applications to help developers figure out how, why, and when to use our product’s features. I also help with cross-team initiatives, such as:
- Leading a Docs Maintenance Working Group to improve our understanding of common maintenance tasks, and budget accordingly in time and resources to complete this work
- Undertaking quarterly Readability audits to identify complex or poorly-written pages, and rewrite them to improve readability
- Pushing for Information Architecture improvements to make it easier for developers to find the docs they need, including:
- Creating a “Manage Realm Apps” section to give developers a central place to find information on creating, configuring, and deploying their apps
- Organizing the Realm Sync documentation section into subsections and consolidating some pages, making it easier for developers to find task-based information when using Sync
- Creating a “Work with Users” section in the Swift SDK documentation, organizing all of the information about creating, deleting, authenticating, linking, and managing metadata for users
- Collaborating toward a total IA overhaul for the Realm SDKs, with the goal of removing product-specific terminology and adopting language and a task-based organization that will enable new developers to easily find the information they need
During my time at Tugboat (June 2019 - December 2020), I’ve was responsible for a range of technical writing tasks, including:
- Leveraging a docs-as-code workflow, creating documentation locally in Markdown and HTML/CSS, and syncing it to a remote git repository for review and deployment to production
- Reorganizing and adding task-based content to a legacy GitBook documentation portal
- Creating a proof-of-concept documentation portal in Hugo, and migrating the documentation to the new portal
- Learning Docker and Tugboat to separate “Docker-isms” from Tugboat-specific documentation, and adding explainer text for developers unfamiliar with Docker
- Setting up local development instances and creating starter configuration files to build deploy previews for popular frameworks, such as Hugo, MkDocs, Jekyll, Ruby on Rails
- Researching user personas, and writing benefit-focused, tech-heavy marketing articles for those personas
- Learning the app and providing basic support when developers are unavailable
My time with One Door (July 2016 - July 2018) included:
- Researching documentation tooling and creating Online Help Portals based on the requirements of the Product team
- Updating the ~2y/o and obsolete user manual that had been created in Microsoft Word, and transforming it into a series of topic-based Help Portal articles
- Identifying different user personas, and creating individual Help Portals with content tailored to respective personas
- Working with Engineering and Product to write API documents to support Professional Services, with a focus on documentation that both business users and technical users understand
- Acting as a “detective” in understanding and documenting application functionality for internal users when questions arose (approximately 15% - 20% of my time was spent doing this on an ongoing basis)
- Creating release notes and updating the online Help Portals for each new release cycle
Other Technical Writing
In addition to documentation-focused technical writing, I’ve done a lot of marketing content writing. These roles have included things like:
- Writing case studies and editing technical content
- Developing the content strategy for the upcoming year and working to create original content.
- Shifting the organization’s strategy to focus more on enterprise decision makers in service to reaching sales goals, while also adding analytics and SEO optimizations to better gauge reach and measure leads.
- Working with the client’s SMEs to develop an eBook, a couple of white papers, some blog posts and articles, and a couple of case studies. This project was in support of a marketing campaign, but the content varied in technical complexity; some of it was more general, while some dived deeper into technical details.