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How to Become a “Software Development Kit” (SDK) Technical Writer

© 2010 Ugur Akinci

SDK (Software Development Kit) (a.k.a. “devkit”) writing is a highly specialized hi-tech niche within the technical communication field.

The pay and the benefits are good but the entry threshold is high. This well-paying technical writing specialty is not for the beginner-level tech writers or those who do not have a good technology background.

Engineers and software developers
who’d like shift to technical documentation make ideal SDK writers, in my judgment.

Here are some of the requirements to find a position as an SDK writer:

First off, you need to write well of course. You need to know the basic principles of technical writing as opposed to, let’s say, creative or copy writing. That’s a must.

Secondly, experience with API (Application Programming Interface) development and/or documentation helps a lot since an SDK includes the set of tools necessary to develop new software applications and API is among them.

Thirdly, it would also help to be familiar with J2EE (Java) and .NET (Microsoft) software frameworks. For a lot of sofwtare companies a knowledge of such platforms is actually a must and not just a preferred item.

You should also have a firm grasp of structured or single-sourced documentation principles and tools. Within this context, knwoing how to use structured FrameMaker and RoboHelp is a big plus. But there are other structured/single-sourcing editors out there as well like AuthorIt, Web Works, Mad Cap products, and others.

SDK authors write devkits not only for software programs but for consumers gadgets like smart phones and pads, online games and operating system (OS) add-ons and widgets as well.

When SDK is written for a device printer it is referred to as “Driver Development Kit” (DDK) as well.

Many companies make their SDKs freely available on the Internet in order to encourage developers create new products by using the company’s software or platform. That’s why good SDK writers are worth every penny they are paid.

Perhaps in your next round of job search you might consider an “SDK Technical Writer” position as well.

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