TECHS5: Programming for Technical Communicators (2015)

The TECHS5 Programming for Technical Communicators course is an introductory programming course for technical writers. The course is aimed to give you an overview of the basic concepts of programming and teach you the basic skills you need to create your own scripts and programs later on. In addition to learning how to write simple programs that make your life easier, you’ll learn to recognize situations where a well-though-of script or program could save you a lot of manual work.

During the course, we’ll use the Python programming language and Notepad++ as our go-to tools. Python was selected mainly because the syntax of the language is fairly clear and, as an interpreted language, writing and testing your own scripts is nice, easy and fast. And Python’s fun, too. And there’s a world of Monty Python puns.

This page collects all lectures from 2015.

TECHS5: Lecture 2

The second lecture starts with a quick recap of what we learned last week. After that, we’ll look into different functions that we can use to work with strings and other sequences. Then, we’ll learn about Boolean data types and conditional statements and see how they can be used to control the flow of our programs. We’ll also have a look at the various logical operators we can use in conditional statements. Finally, if time permits, we’ll look at the different data structures – lists, tuples and dictionaries – we have at our disposal.


Lecture 7: Working with functions and watching out for errors

During the final lecture, we’ll continue looking at functions. We’ll find out how we can return values from our own functions and look at cases where return values come in handy. If time permits, we’ll have a quick look at how Python lets us anticipate errors and deal with them in ways that won’t break our programs.

Lecture 6: Working with zip files and creating functions

This week, we’ll take a look at how you can use Python to work with zip files. We’ll also look at how you can define your own functions in Python and use them to clean up the structure of your programs. (more…)

Lecture 5: while loops, file operations and functions

During this lecture, we’ll look into while loops, learn more ways to manage files using Python, and get to know how we can create our own functions. (more…)

Lecture 4: Lists, for loops and modules

We’ll continue working with for loops and get to know a new information type, the list. In addition, we’ll have a look at modules and see how they can be used to bring in new features to your scripts.

Lecture 3: Sequences, Lists and Loops

The third lecture starts off with a look at sequences. We’ll find out what sequences are, how you can access elements in a sto, and how you can create sequences of your own. Next, we’ll take a look at the for loop and examine how you can harness its powers to repeat simple – and complex – tasks with ease. We’ll learn about lists, too, and see how they can be used to store information so that it is easily accessible and modifiable. If we have time, we’ll also take a look at how you can add more functionality into your programs easily with Python Modules.

Lecture 2: User input, conditional statements and loops

The second lecture starts with a quick recap of what we learned last week. After that, we’ll start looking at how to get input from the users into your program, and what to do with that input. After that we’ll move on to conditional statements and learn how we can direct our programs based on, for example, different input that we’ve received from the users. We’ll learn how we can combine different sets of conditions to fine-tune the program flow, and learn to hate missing colons and broken indentation while we do so. After conditional statements, we’ll move on to loop structures, starting with the while loop. While looking a loops, we’ll also have a quick look at what Python modules are and what we can do with them. Once we know everything there is to know about while loops, we’ll learn the horrible truth about strings (they’re actually sequences!). If there’s time, we’ll start working with the for loop, the most magical of all the loops in the world.

Lecture 1: Getting Started

Lecture one starts from the very basics. First, we’ll take a look at why this course is on the curriculum (there’s a solid reason!) and have a brief look at what you’ll learn – and what you probably won’t learn – during the course. We’ll also explore what you can expect from the course, if you already have some programming experience. (more…)