Dances with Words:
My Life as a Technical Writer

Martha J. Kolman-Davidson -
236 West Portal #143; San Francisco, CA 94127; (415) 648-4232


Writing Samples from Sterling Software/Synon, Inc.

The following samples, which I designed and wrote from scratch, show how I approach technical topics and present information to software developers. They are in a variety of formats. Some are entire works; others are excerpts from longer documents. Some are for products that no longer exist; others were released to COOL:Plex (originally Obsydian) customers. All samples posted with permission.

The following PDF documents can be viewed on any system that supports Adobe Acrobat Reader:

  • COOL:Plex Quick Reference - This excerpt introduces design patterns and describes some of the patterns available for streamlining the software design process. At the request of my manager, I designed the format for the quick reference, including a new FrameMaker template, and produced a prototype in less than a day.

  • Storyboard: Implementing EditDetail - This storyboard describes the flow of a prototype multimedia demonstration I created using Macromedia Director, to show how to use a particular design pattern in an application.

  • DB2/400 Import Utility Guide - This product enables you to import schema information from a DB2/400 database on an AS/400 for use in an Obsydian model.

  • Edits for the Alt+Ed project - Alt+Ed was a prototype project for Web-based training. I worked with instructional designers as the editor on the project. This sample shows proposed Web-based topics (on the left), and my suggestions for rewriting the text for accuracy and clarity (on the right). My goal was to stay faithful to the intent of the original wording while adhering to established style guidelines for phrasing and formatting.

The following documents must be viewed in a Windows environment:

Note: The following links are compressed (.zip) files. To view the samples, extract the contents, and then double-click the resulting .chm or .hlp files.

  • Guided Tour: Designing an application with patterns (HTML Help format) - This module shows you how to extend the application described in the COOL:Plex tutorial by modifying the data model and inheriting from additional pattern objects. (You must have Internet Explorer 4.0 or later installed to view .CHM files.)

  • ODBC Import Utility (WinHelp format) - This utility enables you to import schema information from an ODBC database for use in an Obsydian model.

  • Using external help tools with Obsydian (WinHelp format) - This technical note describes how to use third-party help authoring tools, such as RoboHELP or ForeHelp, to create context-sensitive help files for use with Obsydian-generated applications.

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Copyright © 1999-2002, M. J. Davidson. All rights reserved.