How well do you know Technical Communicators and their tools?

A few months ago we conducted a survey of over 300 Technical Communicators from a cross section of industries and company sizes.  The results surprised us.

Not only did we learn that most Technical Communicators believe that in order to use Wiki’s you needed to know Wiki text, but that they were rarely using any web based tools for documentation.

More surprisingly, we also learned that most technical communicators didn’t know about Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA). IBM must be upset.

Take a look at the infographic below which begins to highlight the key findings of our survey.

Feel free to contact me if you want to learn more about our findings.

TEchnical Communicator Survey small

Were there any surprises for you?  Please give us your comments below.


  1. I'm surprised at how big that image is. 2550 x 12000! 3.5MB!

  2. Instead of being blown away by image size, I am shocked by the statistics. Unreal how some people aren't even sure of what their capabilities are!

  3. This is shocking! No, not the image size, the statistics. 46% of respondents have not heard of DITA? Mark, what was the geographical distribution of your sample? In Massachusetts it is currently nearly impossible to get a technical writing job without DITA experience (not knowledge or training but experience).

  4. What's really surprising is that data interchange, collaborative writing, ROI, and content management were some of the key concerns but the majority are using Word which makes it difficult for any achievement in those areas.

  5. Very interesting survey, thanks a lot!
    But why the focus on DITA and not other tools or formats like DocBook also widely used in technical writing?

  6. Because the most used tool is Word, I wonder where these tech comm people are from. Typically, Word is used in non-high tech fields, such as insurance, financial, manufacturing, government, and others, where the return on investment for tech comm tools is harder to prove for some reason.

    The fact that printed outputs are so high also makes me wonder about these non-high tech groups. The high tech world walked away from printed manuals almost completely 10 years ago. Notice that online help was not an option, 18% said they use RH, yet 69% say their docs are distributed from a custom website. I find that result to be confusing.

    The lack of knowledge about DITA in our field doesn't surprise me – when I was working for a La Jolla-based competitor , I was shocked at how often I had to explain what DITA was. There are clearly 2 levels of tech comm people in the field today – those who are on the edge of the field and those solidly doing what they have always done. Both may be needed but they are different markets, to be sure.

  7. Thanks for sharing information with us. it is very useful to me.

  8. I'm not surprised…this supports an academic study conducted a few years ago on single sourcing (can I remember the title? Doh!). Anyway, one of the key findings from the research was that Word was the major tool used and single-sourcing occured very rarely. In my mind, what I see here is a fundamental problem with a subset of information literacy… literacies.

  9. I'd like to know more about single-sourcing practices. What percentage of writers are actually single-sourcing? What tools are they using? Are they happy with the results?

    I am using Adobe Technical Communication Suite 2 (TCS2) (linking FrameMaker 9 books to RoboHelp 8). It has been a major headache and I'm thinking of switching tools. This is a new job for me and my predecessor used WebWorks to create online help. Should I go back to WW or look into Flare or ?

  10. Oh, and I only heard of DITA as I started this job a year ago. Still not sure what it is, or how it differs from anything. Maybe people aren't as interested in trends if they have tools that work and are getting their work done?

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