Christchurch Branch Report: There and Back Again: A UK XML Tale

The Christchurch branch of TechCommNZ doesn’t mess around. After a well attended 2016, the 2017 season started with a hiss and roar with a good number turning up to hear James McLaughlin talk about his time in the UK working as a technical communicator in the “chip” industry.

James’s funny and informative talk covered his experiences writing technical manuals for phone chips. Working in XML-based tools, primarily IXIASOFT and TCToolbox, James and his colleagues were tasked with writing, editing, and updating a large number of technical documents, delivered as PDF. It was interesting to hear about the challenges of managing updates to the product suites and how these were managed in the tools these teams used, and James took us through some of the challenges as well as the features of these tools.

As a reasonably experienced NZ tech writer who has never worked overseas, I really enjoyed this talk, especially learning about conditions in the UK and job prospects if I ever wanted to consider making the move. James busted a few urban legends, such as “all English people are lazy” and “it’s extremely easy for New Zealanders to pick up work in the UK”, but it was good to know that there are still a number of opportunities available in the tech comm industry over there.

As always, it’s great to catch up with others in the industry and share the latest gossip and news.

Emerging from the meeting, into a hot and windy Canterbury evening, the air was tinged with smoke and the sky lit with a red glow from the rapidly building fire in the Port Hills. A dramatic way to end an enlivening evening.

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