© 2009 Ugur Akinci
Software documentation is a distinct specialty within the larger discipline of Technical Writing. It’s a world with its own rules, processes and lingo.
Here are some of the terms you should be familiar with if you are thinking (highly recommended!) to start a new career as a software documentation writer:
Client-Server Architecture – a network arrangement in which a number of “Client” machines are hooked up to one or more “Servers” through which they receive documents, configuration files, application files, etc. In most software companies, technical writers work on client machines networked to a central server, all protected behind a corporate firewall.
Client – the work station, the PC, the “machine” that is hooked up, networked, to a Server PC on the other end of the Client-Server network.
Light Client – the client machine that has very few applications saved on it. A workstation computer that uses applications saved on a network Server. That’s why “light clients” are usually small units (PCs) with no need for a large hard disk or processing power.
Server – the “big machine” at the other end of the client-server network.
For example, in a typical set-up, Microsoft SourceSafe would be kept not on the individual machines of technical writers but on the central server. When technical writers save the documents they are working on to the SourceSafe they save it to a network server. That way, even if their local “client” machine crashes and loses all its data, their documents can still be retrieved from the SourceSafe since network servers are backed up regularly.
There are many different types of servers including document and database servers.