Find out more about our Firehead course instructor: Ray Gallon

At Firehead, we’re extremely proud of the high caliber of the authors in our Training Centre. This month, we’re shining the spotlight on Ray Gallon, whose “Specifications on a shoestring” course is one of the first in our offer, and a great success.

We interviewed Ray about the course

Why is this course important?

This course is specifically for technical communicators who need to work with, and write, specifications. It’s short, compact, and gives you what you need to get going if you are a technical communicator or other digital content developer who needs to get your feet wet in the world of specifications. 

There are a lot of courses out on the net about specification writing. Most of them are way more detailed than this course, and some of them are even free, with templates and other resources provided. This course will tell you how to integrate what they teach into your existing activity.

How will this information help you two years from now?

I really hope that two years from now you’re going to be advancing, either in your current position or in a new one. Knowing about specifications in a technical communications context gives you an edge when working with developers, product managers, marketing specialists, and others. 

It’ll help you build influence as a knowledgeable, go-to source for integrating specifications, writing them, and creating internal process specifications for your own team, and that’s a set of skills that not everyone has developed.

Here’s a little bit about Ray

Ray Gallon is president and cofounder of the Transformation Society, which develops strategies for humanist digital transformation and organizational learning, and researches the theory and practice of smart pedagogies. He has over 50 years’ experience as a communicator, and he has a lot to say.

Ray worked on specifications for all the technical documentation for a major telecommunications equipment manufacturer. He also has developed high-level GUI specifications and internal process documents. From these experiences, he developed this course on specifications to help technical communicators understand how to get involved with the developers in a way that fosters efficiency and accuracy in the user documentation. 

He’s a frequent speaker and keynoter on communications topics at conferences and seminars around the world. He’s contributed to numerous books, journals, and magazines, and is the editor of The Language of Technical Communication (XML Press). Earlier in his career, he was an award-winning radio producer and journalist.

Here’s a little bit about the course

This three-hour asynchronous video course looks at the nature of specifications from a technical communicator’s point of view: their purpose, the kinds of specifications a technical communicator is likely to encounter or be asked to write, and their interaction with technical documents.

If you’re like most technical content developers, you’ve been told more than once to produce a user-facing document with only a specification to guide you. Or maybe you’ve been asked to actually write a specification.

In this course, you’ll explore the nature of specifications – the most usual types, how they work, why they’re important, and how they interact with other technical documents.

  • You’ll see examples from real specifications created for hardware and software in different industries, and examine how they work.
  • We’ll provide you with templates that you can use to write specifications, and you’ll get to try your hand at it.
  • You’ll look at specifying our own materials. We’ll specify technical documents, and look at specifications for our internal procedures and practices.
  • The course ends with a foray into the world of Agile software development.
    Many people imagine that in agile we don’t use specifications – but the truth is, agile needs them as much as any other development process. It’s just that agile specifications take a very different form, and are written in a very different way.

After you complete this course, you will 

  • Have a clear idea of what specifications do and don’t do
  • Understand their relationship to customer-facing technical publications
  • Know the different types of specifications and how to write them
  • Know about specifying technical content – doc specs, style guides, SOP’s, etc.
  • Understand specifications in an agile environment

Download our guide to specifications

Content expert Ray Gallon has written this checklist to help digital communicators like you, make the most of specifications and help integrate yourself into the product team.


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