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The 2012 WritersUA Skills and Technologies Survey

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Our organizations embrace multiple platforms as a way to maximize product usage and to offset the high cost of software development. However, this results in many difficult challenges for software developers. In our part of the development process, the design and implementation of user assistance components is dictated largely by the nature and number of different platforms we need to support.

In our survey we asked respondents to identify all of the platforms their products run on. The dominant platform is Windows 1, including 7, Vista, XP, and Server (87%). However, the percentage of respondents supporting it has reduced significantly since last year (97%). Far fewer, 26%, support the older versions of Windows 2(2000, NT, and earlier). This has also dropped considerably from 2011 (35%)

Platform Support

The World Wide Web (65%) is recognized as the second biggest platform for respondents supporting it. Most software organizations appear to either already have versions of their products that can be delivered over the Web or they have some sort of strategy for doing so in the future. Server-side deployment of user assistance will be a growing issue for us over the next few years. In our survey we distinguished between Web applications running on the Internet and those running on intranets/extranets. The latter category is supported by 47% of the respondents.

The OS cousins of UNIX (25%) and Linux (34%) continue to be important. UNIX includes Solaris, HP-UX, and AIX variants and is on the decline. Linux has gradually grown. With no common Help standard, browser-based Help has become the most popular solution for user assistance in this arena.

Java sits at (19%). It is now a core component for Android applications. The JavaHelp standard has been uncoupled from Sun and dropped into the open source domain.

The broad label of Mobile is now supported by a healthy 32% of respondents. This is a strong increase over last year (24%). "Mobile" represents a variety of operating systems within this category, including iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, Symbian, RIM, and others.

Mac OS X has risen from 6% a few years ago to 23% in the current survey. The influence of iPads/iTunes/iPhones appears to be increasing the strength of the platform.

IBM mainframe (9%) and Open VMS (4%) round out the chart.


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WritersUA offers cutting-edge training and information to Technical Writers, Information Analysts and Architects, Documentation Designers, Help Authors, Publication Managers, Documentation Leads, Senior Writers and Documentation Contractors, and User Education Specialists. The focus is on software user assistance, which encompasses writing, editing, planning, coding, indexing, testing, programming, localization, and standards development.

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