TechWhirl: Technical Communication Recap for April 11, 2014

technical communication recapFew things are eternal—Hope in the Spring, taxes, and the awe-inspiring ways that MS Word can wreak havoc on a communicator’s life cover most of the possibilities. And perhaps the idea that TechWhirl is there to share a bit of the practical, useful and interesting to those who make content creation and management their life’s work.

The Mark Baker, the Users’ Advocate, is back this week with an interesting viewpoint on how we conceptualize the readers of our content. Even writers who don’t work in the agile environment can find some practical advice in Alyssa Fox’s latest on Agile and tech comm. And Jacquie Samuels outlines the DITA alternatives you should consider for your tech comm authoring approach.  All practical, useful, and just plain interesting.

Then there are our intrepid Whirlers, plagued by the many ways in which the word processor we love to hate makes our lives more complicated. Ancient corrupted templates, tracking changes, conversion between Publisher and Word… if any of these have disrupted your life, you may want to hang out with a bunch of knowledgeable, earnest, curious and funny folks just waiting for the chance to talk tech comm, and to help you find solutions to those troubles.  Register for the forum or subscribe to the email list. Don’t forget to check out the archives for lots of background and some “back in the day” historical perspective.

Have an eternally great weekend!

-Connie and the gang at TechWhirl

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Tech Writer This Week for April 10, 2014

Our nearly mid-April edition of Tech Writer This Week


Users’ Advocate: Don’t Idealize the Reader

Often we seem to be questing for an ideal document in the belief that if we could write it, an ideal reader would emerge to read it. Wanting documentation to be better is a good thing, of course. Wanting it to be ideal may be a fatal vice. An ideal document requires an ideal reader – its status as ideal cannot be measured against any other standard. But ideal readers do not exist. In fact, as readers, the people we actually write for are generally pretty bad.

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Working on Multiple Agile Teams

When my team began using an agile development process, we searched far and wide for information about how to work using that process when working on multiple agile teams. What we found was that most of the writers out there working with agile development were dedicated to one product team. As floating writers, we have unique challenges in agile development


Updating Your Approach to Authoring: DITA Alternatives

When you and your team, and even your boss, come to the conclusion that “there’s got to be a better way” to author technical content, your research will most likely point to DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) as the alternative to the word processing, copy-and-paste, formatting, and versioning nightmare you’ve worked in for so long.

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