June 22, 2005

Welcome to Technically Speaking!

My name is Ryan. I'm a technical writer for the LabVIEW Control Design & Simulation group at National Instruments. When people ask what I do for a living, I respond with "I write software manuals." I follow that up with an explanation and then maybe a little bit about what the LabVIEW Control Design & Simulation products do. Somehow I don't think there is a common definition of "technical writer" the way there is for "district sales manager" or similar positions. Along these lines, I intend for this blog to explore various aspects of technical writing that I deal with on a daily basis. Because my work is about combining technology and writing, you can expect that synthesis to spill over into this blog. I promise to stay somewhat on topic and to try hard not to misspell any words.

A little bit about me:

I joined National Instruments as a technical writer in October 2004. I moved to Austin from Richmond, VA, where I lived for a year after graduating from Virginia Tech in 2003. In my spare time I do fun things like produce electronic music, spin techno records, read lots of books, and enjoy the sunny weather in Austin.

I encourage you to check out our other other blogs if you want to pick the brains of more NI employees.

Stay tuned!


  1. First, congratulations on getting a job at NI. They are a great company. I interviewed with them in 2003 for a position in technical writing, but I was young, just out of college, and lacking any amount of experience. It did give me insight into the company. I would love to work there someday.

    Second, I suppose I will tell you a bit about my job - to illustrate the broad view of technical writing? Perhaps. I work for Frymaster Corporation, located in Shreveport, Louisiana. We produce gas and electric fryers and other commercial kitchen equipment. My position requires me to use the following programs: Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign/Distiller, Pro-Engineer (3D modeling), Visio/Word/Access/Excel, Visual Basic, and multiple proprietary programs. I design manuals from scratch, edit older manuals and bring them up-to-date, and write service bulletins for distribution to domestic and international service agents. Our largest client is McDonald's, but we also sell to smaller mom-and-pop operations, convenience stores, and local chains. I do a good bit of work for McDonald's, Chili's, KFC, and Long John Silver's. Our manuals combine photographs (we take them in the plant, training kitchen, and client locations) and illustrations...and I'm really boring you, huh?

    Third, I think I will lurk around here for a while. It will be interesting to read about the "goings-on" at NI and to see how our jobs parallel one-another.


    Technical Writer, Frymaster Corporation

  2. Welcome Kaylene! Good to meet you, virtually at least. It seems you and I use a lot of similar programs, except we're not expected to do any programming in VB - being as how we're in the LabVIEW group, though, we definitely need to know how to program in LabVIEW. Also, we have a Document Production department that is available for illustrations and everything art-related, if we need them. That's pretty helpful.

    Don't worry about boring me :-) I also design manuals from scratch and bring older manuals up to date as the software goes through development cycles. I think people who write manuals understand the work that goes into them and thus are immune to boredom when hearing about other tech writers :-) It's especially interesting hearing from non-software tech writers, like yourself, and seeing how their challenges and typical day compares to mine.

    Enjoy your "stay!"