TechWhirl: Technical Communication Recap for April 5, 2013

technical communication recapHappy April everyone… we love April because we get to do our April Fools’ Day edition, celebrate our anniversary as owners, and start ramping up for the spring explosion of activity. It’s a technical communication recap that doesn’t promise showers or flowers, but a lot of interesting and funny stuff to start your weekend.

After traipsing through all the broken news we published on April 1, we followed up with the first Users’ Advocate column from Mark Baker, in which he asks a tremendously important question: Where have all the users’ gone? And he provides some thought-provoking answers to it, and the related questions of what, how and why we do what we do. Craig Cardimon curated another worthy selection of posts for Tech Writer This Week, and you still have time to vote in the latest technical communication poll about the most valuable recurring debates of the last 20 years.

TechWhirlers on the email discussion list seem to be exhibiting a bit of spring fever, with lively discussions on commenting code and API docs, Word formatting questions, cloud expertise and the “fundamentally trivial business of technical writing.”  Do check out the threads, add your perspective or start a new thread of your own.

Have a great weekend!

-Connie and the gang at TechWhirl

 Tech Writer This Week

Tech Writer This Week for April 4, 2013

After a foolishly good start to April, bloggers got down to the business of thinking and sharing commentary and useful tips, and we collected some of the best in Tech Writer This Week. Good service and good documentation can’t be separated; the good and the bad of UI design, and the content strategy tips via IKEA are just a few of the topics we bring you this week.

 Users' Advocate

Users’ Advocate: Where Have All the Users Gone?

As I begin my stewardship of the Users’ Advocate column, I think it is important to begin by asking, where have all the users gone? Thirty years ago, tech comm had a more or less captive audience. If users wanted information on your product, they looked at the manual. They didn’t have much choice. Today, when the user has a question or encounters a problem with your product, the first thing they do is to Google it.

 technical communication poll - recurring questions

Technical Communication Poll: Recurring and Vital Conversations on Technical Writing

Over the course of 20 years, TechWhirlers have debated, questioned and conversed more than 450,000 times on a whole host of topics, most of which are actually related to technical writing and technical communication. That’s a lot of conversation, and we are proud to have hosted it since 1993. Since big anniversaries are usually a good time for reflection and recollection, our new technical communication poll asks you, our talkative TechWhirlers to tell us which of those subjects for debate are important and should continue to swirl..

 TechWhirl April Fools' Day

April Fool’s Day 2013

Started by Samuel Fool in April of 1856, April Fools’ Day has become a worldwide phenomenon that some say spans more than just April 1st. Below are a collection of the TechWhirl’s April Fools’ Day posts from some of the most enlightened companies and writers on the planet. We thank them for the their time and their great posts. TechWhirl is proud to have covered and broken these stories.


U.S. Jobs Outlook Handbook to Include New Technical Communication Entry

Sources close to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Statistics report that the DL will incorporate a new entry in the Jobs Outlook Handbook, displacing the current description of Technical Writer as one of the high-growth potential occupations through 2020.

 XML Press Logo


In its continual effort to be out in front of every new trend, XML Press is pleased to premiere its new corporate identity, including a new logo and the first in a series of new covers for its books. It began with Daniel Oppenheimer’s article, “Hard-to-Read Fonts Promote Better Recall,” in the March, 2012, issue of The Harvard Business Review, which reported that people learn better when they read content set in a hard-to-read font.


STC Set to Film New Video at Upcoming STC Summit

The Society for Technical Communication is joining the Harlem Shake craze at the upcoming STC Summit (5-8 May in Atlanta, GA; Attendees are invited to bring a technical communication-related costume to wear for the filming and show off their best moves for the camera.

 productivity graph-sm

Study on Productivity May Change the Way Work is Presented

For years, best practices of project management have touted planning, anticipation of risks, and clear communication as the road to efficiency and success, but a recent study has shown that these tenets may not be as effective as once thought. In a recent study designed to measure the impact of different types of stressors on productivity during administrative and creative tasks, researchers may be discovering what executives have known for years. The work will get done in the timeline you give it


Yahoo! CEO Bans Technical Writers from Working at Office

The CEO of Yahoo! recently upset a lot of people when she announced that employees would no longer be allowed to work from home, and that all returning employees were going to be put on rotating babysitting duty. However, the public outcry seems to have ignored one of the more puzzling details – technical writers are officially exempt from this new work requirement.

 Scriptorium Publishing

Scriptorium Publishing Announces New DITA Open Toolkit Development Offering

Scriptorium Publishing announced the immediate availability of a new DITA Open Toolkit development environment, designed to address requests for a supportive publishing environment.

 WebWorks ePublisher

WebWorks Full Optical Opus Learning System Launches Today

Today WebWorks announces the release of its newest version of ePublisher, 2013.1, featuring WebWorks Full Optical Opus Learning System.  WebWorks Full Optical Opus Learning System  is the next-generation help authoring software and hardware, designed to create a full sensory environment for your users. Forget pesky output formats like PDF, HTML, or Multi-Device, their Full […]

 adobe featured image

Ex-employee Discloses Tool Used in FrameMaker Documentation

TechWhirl has uncovered evidence that Adobe’s documentation team is allegedly in the throes of an uprising-of-sorts due to the sensational claims made recently by an ex-employee. The very disgruntled ex-employee, who said everyone in the team called him Sloppy Joe, told TechWhirl that “all product documentation for Adobe FrameMaker is done using Word!” Sloppy Joe disclosed that Adobe had provided him and his fellow technical writers considerable freedom to choose the right tools for their job.

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