In this presentation, Bill Swallow explores the weird yet effective applications of smart content in groups outside of techcomm.
“Moving to smart content or intelligent content has largely so far been driven by efficiency. But the places that are looking at using smarter content now are less interested in the efficiency of that content. They’re more interested in the value that it’s going to bring.”
How do you recognize content redundancy? Chris Hill of DCL and Alan Pringle discuss content reuse and share some great insights about managing reuse as part of your content strategy.
“You are going to be reducing your localization costs, because every time you reuse and reduce the amount of source content, you are doing the same exact thing in every language that you’re translating to.”
Does your website include content from multiple departments? If so, you need an enterprise content strategy rather than a departmental strategy. Enterprise content strategy addresses each content type as part of the overall user experience.
In this presentation, Elizabeth Patterson explores how to build a holistic content strategy across your customer-facing content groups.
“Your content needs to be searchable, it needs to be consistent, and prospects need to be able to find it efficiently.”
Entering new language markets requires more than just translation. To succeed, people from across your organization need to collaborate and begin thinking globally. Bill Swallow talks about how to get started and provide a unified, localized customer experience.
“Going global is not a simple decision. You can’t just throw things out into the wild and expect them to be taken at face value. There are going to be language differences, there are going to be cultural differences, and there are going to be regulatory differences.”
Sarah O’Keefe talks about why your technical communication needs to become part of your marketing strategy.
“Technical content is being read before the sale. Buyers are not limiting themselves to what they can find in your marketing content, they’re looking for what matters to them and what they’re trying to do.”
Sarah O’Keefe discusses general best practices for CCMS implementations, along with a specific focus on the AEM DITA CCMS.
“You then configure AEM XML to support your content model with specialization, constraints, and authoring experience. You can build authoring templates that give people a framework to work in and you can also customize the actual user experience.”
Change is constant in technical communication. Whether dealing with new technology, shifts in organizational structures, or growing business requirements, content creators must be able to adapt. In this webcast recording, a panel of content experts—Jack Molisani of The LavaCon Conference and ProSpring Staffing, Erin Vang of Dolby Laboratories, Sarah O’Keefe of Scriptorium, and moderator Toni Mantych of ADP—answer questions and give advice about dealing with change in the industry.
In this webcast recording, Sarah O’Keefe discusses how content silos make it difficult to deliver a consistent, excellent customer experience. After all the hard work that goes into landing a customer, too many organizations destroy the customer’s initial goodwill with mediocre installation instructions and terrible customer support.
Do you have a unified customer experience? Do you know what your various content creators are producing? Join us for this thought-provoking webcast.
Implementing a content strategy often involves overcoming significant technological and cultural challenges, but some of these challenges are so scary, so heinous, that they earn a place among the undead because they Just. Won’t. Die!
In this webcast, which debuted at Lavacon 2014, Bill Swallow takes a look at these nightmare-inducing monsters—from unrelenting copy-and-paste zombies to life-draining, change-avoiding vampires—and shows you what can be done to keep your content strategy implementation from turning into a fright fest.
Having trouble with your technical content process? Need a strategy that can help you improve and scale? Before you make a change, talk to the other content-producing groups in your company—marketing, training, sales, support—to develop a content strategy that works across the entire organization.
In this webcast recording, Sarah O’Keefe discusses the future of content strategy.
The purpose of content strategy is to support your organization’s business goals. Content strategists need to understand how content across the organization—marketing, technical, and more—contributes to the overall business success.
In this webcast recording, Sarah O’Keefe discusses how content initiatives are putting new demands on technical communication—improving customer experience, building interactive documents, including advanced visualizations, integrated translations, and more.
Whether you’re using relative font sizes for those with low vision, or keyboard functionality for those with motor issues, creating more accessible tech comm content for people with disabilities also makes it easier to navigate and follow for people without disabilities.
Does your company have a strategy for making content available through mobile devices? Are you currently or do you plan to be part of the rapidly growing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement? Do you have a content management system that makes your content accessible for a variety of purposes on the many mobile devices that are currently on the market today?
In this webcast recording, Simon Bate discusses the pros and cons of using the DITA Open Toolkit. Topics include localization, automation, open standards, and plugin architecture on the pro side; plugin architecture, PDF configuration, open standards, and documentation on the con side.
Our trends webcast has become an annual event, and it’s our most popular webcast! Each year, we take our best shot at trends for the upcoming year with a mixture of serious and not-quite-serious predictions. In this webcast recording, Sarah O’Keefe and special guest Bill Swallow, aka techcommdood, share their perspectives on trends for 2013.
This webcast recording is a preview of our new Content Strategy 101 book, which will be released in September. Here, Sarah O’Keefe discusses why content strategy is important and how you can use it to transform your technical content from “necessary evil” to a business asset.
In this webcast recording, Sarah O’Keefe gives an overview of DITA, one of the major structured authoring standards in tech comm. You’ll also learn about DITA concepts, the business case for DITA, and typical scenarios where DITA is used.
Have you ever wondered how to effectively manage your DITA content as it continues to grow? Jean-François Ameye shows how IXIASOFT’s full featured DITA CMS solution handles your entire technical documentation process from authoring and searching to reviewing and publishing.
In this webcast recording, guest presenter Peter Lubbers gives a fast-paced overview of HTML5 with a focus on how it affects the tech comm field. He covers what exactly HTML5 is, why you should care, and how you can develop with HTML5. The session covers which browsers support which features, and how you can make the new features work in older browsers so you can start using HTML5 today.
In this webcast recording, Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler, and Val Swisher, CEO of Content Rules, host a lively discussion with technical communication industry professionals Jack Molisani and Sarah O’Keefe. The four discuss the impact of globalization, outsourcing, off-shoring, technological advances, and mobile devices on the technical communication landscape.
In this webcast recording, Sarah O’Keefe and guest presenter Char James-Tanny discuss tech comm trends for the upcoming year and beyond. Topics include use of the cloud, help authoring tool innovation, business value, adoption of standards, shift to mobile, and more.
In this webcast recording, Sarah O’Keefe explores how to develop a content strategy specifically for technical content. That means stepping back from the temptation to focus on tools and instead taking a hard look at what the users need and how best to deliver it.
In this webcast recording, Sarah O’Keefe discusses how the cost of developing content affects what is actually created. She leads with a discussion of Gutenberg and how we went from gorgeous, unaffordable, artistic books that took years to produce to more plebeian but affordable books. Then she considers today’s situation, with particular attention to the possibilities of video, information apps, and a look at what has NOT changed.
Content strategy is usually thought of in the context of web development. But today’s software is increasingly information-rich. Software is a content vector, and we need to manage the life cycle of that content. This webcast from guest speaker Ray Gallon adapts content life cycle management principles, taken from web-oriented content strategy, to software development cycles. Some examples from real experiences illustrate this adaptation.
Out of the box, the DITA Open Toolkit (OT) looks like it’s localization-ready. It handles the XML attribute xml:lang. It contains strings for more than 50 localizations. So it would seem that all you have to do is specify the language in your DITA files and maps and you’re good to go…or are you? In this webcast, I’ll discuss some of the issues Scriptorium has encountered while generating localized output from the DITA Open Toolkit—and how we solved them.
In this webcast, Simon Bate provides a “gentle introduction” to the DITA Open Toolkit (OT), the standard way to generate deliverables from DITA documents. This presentation shows how anyone can install the OT. A tour of the contents and how the plugin architecture works is included.
Scriptorium hosts Tristan Bishop of Symantec as he discusses what technical writers need to do to keep up with transforming communication methods and rapid advances in global, mobile, and social dialog.
Alan Houser and Vici Koster-Lenhardt are running for the office of Vice President of the Society for Technical Communication. If you missed the live webcast, watch this recording to get to know the candidates.
In this webcast, Simon Bate leads viewers through the key steps in using XSL (extensible stylesheet language) to perform XML-to-XML conversions, a process that differs from more traditional XML-to-PDF and XML-to-HTML conversions.
My presentation for the STC Summit in Dallas is finally done. The session, “Managing in an XML environment,” is scheduled for Tuesday, May 4, at 4 p.m. Central time.
I hope to see you in Dallas, but if you can’t make the conference in person, I will also do a webcast version of this presentation on June 15 at 1 p.m. Eastern time. That event is free but does require registration.
I’m sure you’re wondering about the duck. In my presentation, I will be introducing a formula for measuring documentation quality. It’s based on Quality, Usability, and some other factors that spell out, you guessed it, QUACK.
And if that’s not enough to bring you to the session, I also have several other animals in my slides. Consider yourself warned.
Lately, our webcasts are getting great participation. The December event had 100 people in attendance (the registered number was even higher), and the numbers for the next few months are strong, as well. Previous webcasts had attendance of A Lot Less than 100. What changed? The webcasts are now free. (Missing an event? Check our archives.)
We’re going in a similar direction with white papers. We charge for some content, but we also offer a ton of free information.
The idea is that free (and high-quality) information raises our profile and therefore later brings in new projects. I’m not so sure, though, that we have any evidence that supports this theory yet.
So, I thought I’d ask my readers. Do you evaluate potential vendors based on offerings such as webcasts and white papers? Are there other, more important factors?
PS Upcoming events, including several DITA webcasts, are listed on our events page.
When you implement a DITA-based workflow, you face myriad new challenges, such as getting accustomed to topic-based writing, exploring reuse strategies, and specialization. The most difficult technical obstacle is usually setting up a PDF/print publishing workflow. The DITA Open Toolkit provides very basic PDF output, but for organizations who require attractive, professional-looking PDF content, extensive and expensive customization is required. FrameMaker is easier to configure than the Open Toolkit and produces lovely PDF files, but can you work around the limitations of the DITA support? InDesign offers the highest quality typography but has significant limitations in working with structured content. This session discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each approach to extracting PDF from DITA content.
This session is intended for individuals who are considering a DITA implementation and expect to need PDF output. Basic familiarity with DITA, XML, and related technologies is helpful but not required.
NOTE: During the recording, the presenters will mention polls. You will not see these polls while viewing the recording, but the presenters will describe the results.
When you’re considering tools for authoring DITA content and creating output, there are many choices to evaluate. To make your journey toward DITA implementation easier, Scriptorium is offering free webinars in early 2010 to show you how three tools handle DITA-based information.
Odysseus in front of Scylla and Charybdis by Johann Heinrich Füssli (Wikipedia)
On January 19, Sarah O’Keefe will show you how MadCap Flare supports DITA constructs, and on February 16, Simon Bate will demonstrate the DITA features in the oXygen XML editor. On March 16, Scott Prentice of Leximation will demonstrate how the DITA-FMx plugin works with FrameMaker 9.
As an added bonus, attendees can win a free license of the tool shown during each demo! For more information about these sessions and to register, visit our events page.
If there are other topics you’d like to see covered in later free webcasts, please send suggestions to [email protected].
Many thanks to all of the people who attended yesterday’s webcast on coping with user-generated content.
We recorded the webcast, and it is now available:
In a nod to the topic itself—and in an effort to make the event more interesting, I solicited quite a bit of audience participation. As a result, I owe the webcast participants a significant number of links and other resources.
Question: What blogs do you read?
Better answer: Here is a link to my Google Reader subscriptions in the Publishing category. Many thanks to the attendee who recommended sharing them this way. (If you’d like full credit by name, send me email or put a note in the comments; I don’t want to do that without permission.) I’ve also listed the blogs at the bottom of this post.
In addition to the publishing blogs, I specifically mentioned Punk Rock HR, Dooce, and Mark Logic CEO blog. (Don’t read the first two if you are offended by a word that starts with F.)
Question: Are there any guides to legal issues in social media, such as libel?
Answer: I found a few interesting resources, but not a definitive guide.
In the past few days, STC has been sending out acceptance notices for presentations at next May’s STC Summit. There’s been a small flurry of announcements, mostly on Twitter. (I live in North Carolina where two flakes are a flurry. 10 flakes are a school-closing, bread-and-milk-buying emergency.)
For instance, we have this on Friday, November 20:
Tweets related to STC acceptances
Side note: I’ll be presenting on managing in an XML environment.
In the pre-Twitter Era, acceptances were sent by mail, and then conference organizers could post the full program more or less at their convenience. But now, the leaks start almost immediately.
This may not be a bad thing. The happy tweets raise awareness of the event. For an organizer, however, it means that notifications need to be carefully synchronized or perhaps staggered on a formal schedule (SxSW does this quite well; they announce program decisions in batches).
It seems like another case where unofficial community content is eroding the ability of the content owner to control the messaging. Coincidentally (!), that’s the topic of a webcast I’m doing on December 8.
Strategies for coping with user-generated content
Tuesday, December 8, 11 a.m. Eastern time
We are offering this webcast for free; you just need to register.
This is a new presentation that I first delivered at LavaCon in New Orleans this year.
In addition to our November event on localization, we are adding another webcast in December. I’ll be presenting Strategies for coping with user-generated content on December 8 at 11 a.m. Eastern time via GoToWebinar. This event is free but registration is required.
Here’s the description:
The rise of Web 2.0 technology provides a platform for user-generated content. Publishing is no longer restricted to a few technical writers—any user can now contribute information. But the information coming from users tends to be highly specific.
The two types of information can coexist and improve the overall user experience. User-generated content also offers an opportunity for technical writers to participate as “curators”—by evaluating and organizing the information provided by end users.
Remember, there’s no charge to attend, but you do need to register.
October 22nd, join Simon Bate for a session on delivering multiple versions of a help set without making multiple copies of the help:
We needed to generate a help set from DITA sources that applied to multiple products. However, serious space constraints prevent us from using standard DITA conditional processing to create multiple, product-specific versions of the help; there was only room for one copy of the help. Our solution was to create a single help set in which select content would be displayed when the help was opened.
I will be visiting New Orleans for LavaCon. This event, organized by Jack Molisani, is always a highlight of the conference year. I will be offering sessions on XML and on user-generated content. You can see the complete program here. In addition to my sessions, I will be bringing along a limited number of copies of our newest publication, The Compass. Find me at the event to get your free copy while supplies last. (Otherwise, you can order online Real Soon Now for $15.95.)
And last but certainly not least, we have our much-anticipated session on translation workflows. Nick Rosenthal, Managing Director, Salford Translations Ltd., will deliver a webcast on cost-effective document design for a translation workflow on November 19 at 11 a.m . Eastern time:
In this webcast, Nick Rosenthal discusses the challenges companies face when translating their content and offers some best practices to managing your localization budget effectively, including XML-based workflows and ways to integrate localized screen shots into translated user guides or help systems.
This is a short reminder that it’s not too late to sign up for our webinar on converting documents from Microsoft Word to DITA. This webinar is the second in our series of webinars co-presented with JustSystems on “Things to Consider When Moving to DITA.”
If you missed last week’s webinar on converting unstructured FrameMaker documents to DITA, you can view a recording by visiting the JustSystems webinars page (at http://na.justsystems.com/webinars.php), then scroll down to the “Archived Webinars” section.
Scriptorium and JustSystems are announcing a three-webinar series on preparing to use DITA.
The first two webinars in the series describe the age-old problem of converting legacy content into DITA. Because a great deal of unstructured content is in either Adobe FrameMaker and Microsoft Word, we’re dedicating one webinar to converting Unstructured FrameMaker to DITA and the other to converting Microsoft Word to DITA.
The third webinar describes various re-use strategies you can apply to your DITA content.
The dates and times for the conversion webinars are:
Converting Unstructured FrameMaker to DITA – August 25, 2:00pm Eastern time.
Converting Microsoft Word to DITA – September 1, 2:00pm Eastern time.
The date and time for the third webinar (DITA reuse strategies) will be announced toward the end of August.
All of the webinars in the series are free, but you do have to register before attending. To sign up, follow this link to the JustSystems web site:
For August and September, our webinar schedule is as follows:
DITA 101, August 18 at 11 a.m. Eastern time
Participants will learn about basic Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) concepts, the business case for implementing DITA, and some typical uses of DITA. This webinar is ideal for those who are considering a move to structured authoring based on the DITA standard. Register
Demystifying DITA to PDF Publishing, September 10 at 11 a.m. Eastern time
When a company implements a DITA-based workflow, the most difficult technical obstacle is often setting up a PDF/print publishing workflow. This session discusses the advantages and disadvantages of using the DITA Open Toolkit, FrameMaker, InDesign, and other options to create PDF output from DITA content. Basic familiarity with DITA, Extensible Markup Language (XML), and related technologies is helpful but not required. Register
What Do Movable Type and XML Have in Common?, September 22 at 11 a.m. Eastern time
The invention of movable type changed the economics of information by making the process of copying a book by hand obsolete. More than 500 years later, XML seems to be doing the same to desktop publishing. But where movable type changed the economics of a mechanical process—creating printed copies—XML changes the economics of content authoring, formatting, and customization. This webinar takes a look at how publishing technologies revolutionize the way people consume information and how those technologies affect authors. Register
Each webinar is $20.
During the sessions, you can interact with the presenter and other students through the chat interface or the audio connection. There is a question-and-answer session at the end of each webinar. The Q&A is not included in session recordings, which are available for download later. Participants in the sessions receive a free recording.
To register for these webcasts, or to purchase recordings of past webinars, go to our online store.
STOP – Sequential Thematic Organisation of Publications – was developed at Hughes Corporation in the 1960s. The purpose of STOP was to improve the speed of document production, and to allow multiple authors to work simultaneously on the same document. […]
The STOP approach still resonates in the age of online documentation, as we still have the same needs to reduce document creation times and to work collaboratively. In this session, we will look at how the STOP approach worked, and how it might be re-applied even more effectively in the 21st century.
That presentation is July 15 at 5 p.m. Eastern time. (Note the time change. Our usual 11 a.m. time slot is 1 a.m. in Melbourne, Australia. That seemed impolite to our presenter.)
If you’ve ever submitted a purchase request that was not approved, chances are it lacked one or more of the vital components management looks for when allocating resources.
In this segment, Jack Molisani will present a fun and practical session identifying the components of a successful business case, how to identify what is important to management, how to maximize your chances of approval, and more.
Jack usually rewards questions with chocolate, and I’m going to be impressed if he manages that in a webinar.
Don’t miss your chance to hear from these guys. You can register through our store; recordings of previous webcasts are now available as well.
PS Our presenters are based in England, California, and Australia. Registrants could be anywhere. The sessions are yours for $20. I love the Internet.
You probably know that Scriptorium conducted an industry survey on structured authoring earlier this year. The report, The State of Structure in Technical Communication, is available in our online store for $200.
There is a cheaper option to get the highlights. On Tuesday, June 16, at 1 p.m. Eastern time, I’ll be delivering a one-hour webinar that highlights the most important findings.
Coming in July and August
Expect to see additional webinars in cooperation with our TechComm Alliance partners, Cherryleaf and HyperWrite. We are also welcoming Jack Molisani of ProSpring, who will offer excellent and candid career development advice. Watch this space for details about these upcoming events. Scriptorium consultants will also be offering additional content.
Two of our recent webinars are now available for download:
Hacking the DITA Open Toolkit
Documentation as Conversation
Each webinar lasts about one hour and is $20, either live or recorded. You can register for the Tuesday webcast and download recordings in our online store.
(Warning: The recorded webcast files are quite large.)
We have added Documentation as Conversation, presented by Anne Gentle, to our upcoming webinars. Anne is scheduled to present on June 9 at 11 a.m. Eastern time:
Even if your documentation system does not converse with your users, your documentation can help customers talk to each other and make the connections that help them do their jobs well or learn something new as if they were in a classroom with a community for classmates. This talk describes how you can think about documentation and user assistance in a conversational way, with the help of social media technology. I’ll discuss the topics in my new book, Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation. I’ll describe the use of in-person Book Sprints that combine wikis and community events to gather together writers to accomplish documentation goals
Anne is an expert, perhaps the expert, on using wikis and other social media to extend traditional documentation efforts. She’s also an excellent speaker, so I hope you’ll join us for this session.
Communications from DMN provided a link to a webcast on Essential Tools of an XML Workflow. The webcast focuses on the book publishing industry. It’s interesting to hear that some publishing houses still allow authors and editors to use Microsoft Word. These folks are often viewed as incapable of learning an XML authoring tool. Many times the Word content is sent to an indexer for tagging.
The companies I’ve worked with don’t give their employees the choice of publishing tools, but if you’re Stephen King, you probably won’t be forced to use an XML tool.