TechWhirl: Technical Communication Recap for July 27, 2012

This week’s update on technical communication and the TechWhirl community is supported by Platinum sponsor Adobe & Technical Communication Suite 4 |

It was a technical communicator’s dream week on the TechWhirl network this week. If we could award gold medals in grammar debates and tool discussions, we could form our very own Tech Comm Olympics-like extravaganza. Lots of wonderfully geeky debates on tools for authoring and source control and classic bouts on grammar and syntax questions on the email discussion list; tons of news; new job listings; the weekly technical communication poll; a new classic on integrated technical communication, and reviews of the latest and greatest technical communication tools from Adobe.

John Posada started an epic discussion on the use of “Is or Are,” while Kevin McLaughlin looked for opinions and business case fodder to answer the question “Is Flare maintenance worth the price?” Not to be outdone, DoughtyTechWriter started a complex but instructive thread on Global Access to FrameMaker Source Files, which included lessons on source control. All in all, a busy week of chats and debates, with no cat herding required, and lots of knowledge exchanged.

We were happy to provide first look reviews of Adobe’s new release:  Technical Communication Suite 4, FrameMaker 11, and Robohelp 10.  Look for more in-depth reviews beginning next week. Since we like to tie things together, we invite you to participate in this week’s technical communication poll on when to upgrade tools. We also republished Anna Parker-Richards’ comment-inspiring “Integrated Technical Communications: A Map to Better Understanding” to fill in the gaps in your summertime reading schedule.

So in between watching your favorite events in the Summer Olympics, you have quite a reading list to enjoy wading through. Enjoy!

Have a great weekend

-The gang at TechWhirl

  Tech Writer This Week for July 27 2012

We’ve curated some fascinating and funny content on technical communication from around the web this week. Five “whys,” the future of tech comm education, how much detail, confusing warning messages, unfortunate permalinks, and why knowing the customer (that’s “know your audience” in tech writer speak), matters.

  Technical Communication Poll: When to Upgrade the Tools

In the technical communication field, tools matter, because what we do is neither easy or simple but it is important to our organizations’ customers. Generally when a well-known vendor launches a major release, a great deal of fanfare and hoopla ensues. Lesser amounts of hoopla accompany interim releases or major releases from smaller vendors, but the thrust is the same. Lots of reasons why we should consider switching, upgrading, or trying out a new toolset, including opinions from thought leaders and fans, and reviews of said release. How do you decide when or if to upgrade a system to the latest and greatest version?

  TechWhirl First Look: Adobe RoboHelp 10

For the last decade or longer, the idea of “online help” really has been something of a misnomer. With more applications living on smart phones and other mobile devices that can access the Internet at will, the promise of genuinely online help can now be realized. The most extensive upgrades in the Adobe Technical Communication Suite 4 come to RoboHelp 10.

  TechWhirl First Look: Adobe FrameMaker 11

Looking at the structured version of this authoring tool, I found the newest release of FrameMaker isn’t one of those mind-blowing updates, where you have to re-learn the whole interface. One of the core goals for this release was to get authors working more efficiently, so you’ll find that Adobe implemented all those little things you’ve been dying to have, like robust keyboard shortcuts and better scrolling/selecting. Best of all, the entire application is noticeably faster, especially if you’re working with a large file.

  TechWhirl First Look: Technical Communication Suite 4

Adobe Systems has provided some tantalizing hints as to when it would release the new Technical Communication Suite 4.0, and what might be in it. The when is today, July 24, 2012. And the what addresses a lot requests and requirements that TCS users have been asking for. The TCS team was listening, and the result is a nicely integrated set of tools that meet the future of technical communications head on.

  Integrated Technical Communications: A Map to Better Understanding

Technical communications overlaps with all the other fields involved in the software development lifecycle and often our job objectives dovetail with the business analysts, interaction designers, software architects, product managers, marketing specialists, and so on. Integrated Technical Communications (ITC) defines an approach that supports the business side as well as the technical side of product development. Professionals focused on these disciplines can create ITC Mall Maps to increase visibility to key audiences and demonstrate strategic value to the organization.

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