Technical writers can make a tremendous difference in the quality of a product if they are allowed to provide feedback early enough in the process. Apparently Microsoft is making this more official with their new UI guidelines for their inductive design. Fascinating. I have noticed that web interfaces are influencing traditional software interfaces. It seems to be a good idea when this involves embedding help text (tips, hints, short instructions) right in the interface, especially since no one reads the documentation. Writers are quite sensitive to complications in the UI even when they cannot suggest a good way to solve the problem. At the least, they tend to write things that make more sense than the typical programmer-speak.