WritersUA Conference

TechWhirl's coverage of the Conference for Software User Assistance.

The EBook Publishing – Technical Communication Mutual Learning Opportunity

During WritersUA, TechWhirl's Keith Soltys sat down with Joshua Tallent, founder of eBook Architects to discuss the present and future of eBooks, the state of the technology, and how much technical communications and eBook trade publishing can learn from each other to produce good, readable, accessible content. Continue reading ...

Enhancing Online Help with MadPak Suite Components

Patrick Calnan, Documentation Team Lead for N‐able Technologies has been using components of the MadPak Suite for a while, and presented at WritersUA on how MadPak Suite can enhance online help in a quick 30-minute session. Although he’s not a MadCap employee, Calnen packed a lot of useful information into a short session, effectively touching on several components of the MadPak Suite with insight on how his company has implemented them in their online help projects: Feedback, Analyzer, Contributor, Mimic and Capture. Continue reading ...

Dealing with SMEs in Technical Communications and User Assistance

Dr. Kevin C. Moore, the Chief Learning Officer at Tier1 Performance Solutions, presented at WritersUA on the neuroscience of knowledge transfer, and Dealing with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in the Design Process using the same approach, a basis of understanding the mind. Dr. Moore started his SME discussion with four letters—A, O, K and B—Attitude, Opinion, Knowledge and Behavior. Whatever you learned from his session, he said that those are the four critical things to take away. AOKB of you, your SMEs and your users. Continue reading ...

EPUB and eBooks: Formats, Setup, Production Workflows and Foreign Language Text Lessons from WritersUA

eBooks are a hot topic for technical writers and user assistance professionals right now, and WritersUA 2012 featured three sessions about eBooks and electronic publishing: EPUB: Putting It All Together, by Scott Prentice; eBook Production Workflows, by Joshua Tallent; and The Current State of Foreign Language Text in eBooks, also by Joshua Tallent Continue reading ...

Session Summary: Cascading Style Sheets—Current Techniques and the Promise of CSS3

Mike Hamilton, VP of product management for MadCap Software and member of the Orange County Chapter of the STC, really got specific at his WritersUA session on CSS3. Hamilton believes most technical communications teams do not CSS2 to its fullest potential. So he focused on providing practical and applicable tips for CSS2 and CSS3 as it makes its way to adoption as a standard. Although Hamilton described CSS techniques using Flare, his tips are applicable regardless of the program used. He reminded participants that the DIV element "is our friend;" that the key to layouts is using the attributes Float, Position and Overflow; and that while CSS3 holds promise, the promise comes with caveats. Continue reading ...

Session Summary: Integrating Help, Support, and Training Content

Where do you go to find answers? Google? Yeah, so does everyone else (including your users). Paul Mueller of UserAid knows this fact and stressed the need for a one-stop-shop approach for help content in his talk at WritersUA. “Users only want to go to one place to find answers,” said Mueller. A common approach to having your help content be “Google-able” is to take the help files and throw them up on the web so that users can find them through a Google search. But why should the user have to figure out where to find the info they need and sort through it all? Decide what your customers need and deliver it in one integrated solution Continue reading ...

technical communication recap

TechWhirl: Technical Communications Recap for March 31, 2012

The old saying March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, apparently doesn't hold true in technical communications. TechWhirl finishes up the month of March with a great set of articles on translation and globalization, more valuable recaps from WritersUA 2012, and some interesting news items (well, on the news front it was more like a lamb, but we figure it’s end of quarter quiet period for lots of companies.) Continue reading ...

Session Summaries: HTML5 and CSS3 to the Point and User Annotations with HTML5

By now, most writers know that both HTML and CSS have been updated with new standards. However, browser and tool vendors are just now beginning to support them. At WritersUA, Scott DeLoach and Dave Gash each gave presentations that covered aspects of the new technology that impact user assistance and thoughts on how we’ll be dealing with it in the coming year. Continue reading ...

Session Summary: Adobe Tech Comm Suite Tool Seminar

During WritersUA 2012, Adobe® hosted a tool seminar with several presenters, each one speaking to a unique feature or in more detail on a feature of Technical Communication Suite (TCS). The package allows for authoring DITA-compliant content in FrameMaker®, publishing to multiple outputs with RoboHelp® and Captivate®, and adding images, demos or simulations with Photoshop® and Captivate. Outputs include print, PDF, EPUB, AIR®, WebHelp, XML and HTML. Continue reading ...