TechWhirl: Technical Communication Recap for July 6, 2012

This week’s update on technical communication and the TechWhirl community is supported by Platinum sponsor Adobe & RoboHelp 9 |

With the US celebration of Independence Day comes another American tradition—baseball’s All Star Break.  That period between July 4th and the “Midsummer Classic” that pits the stars of the American League against those of the National League. Baseball fans get to vote on who the All Stars will be each year, and the game is accompanied by hoopla of involving fans and sponsors, the inevitable seventh inning stretch, and the partaking of mass quantities of hot dogs, peanuts, and various adult beverages.

TechWhirl presents its own All Star Break, in which we bring back the top five posts of 2012, as “voted” on by our global audience of technical communicators who’ve clicked the appropriate links and read through the mass quantities of great content relevant to how we practice technical communication.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy the content, feel free to post comments or start a new thread on the email discussion list.  You’re on your own for the hot dogs and beer.

Have a great weekend.

-The gang at TechWhirl

  Tech Writer This Week for July 6, 2012

In Tech Comm, Tom Johnson ( gets back to basics and returns to the topic of findability. Mark Baker ( talks about the shibboleths of technical communication. For those of you (like me) who are unaware of what that means, as I was, a shibboleth is a test that separates the trustworthy from the suspect. Laura Johnson ( is hosting a webinar on “Transforming Your WebHelp to a Printed Document Using Mediums and CSS” on July 10. And Sarah O’Keefe ( digs into how incumbency bias affects tech comm tool selection. Plus more in content strategy and user experience.

  Happy Independence Day 2012 from TechWhirl

Happy Independence Day from the friendly folks at TechWhirl. Yes, we know Canada Day was the 1st of July and other Independence Days occur at other times during the year but since our main servers and the owners are in the United States we’re recognizing today.

  Pinterest: What My Mother Can Teach You About Content Strategy and Technical Communications

I was talking with my mother last week, and she mentioned that she’s enjoying gathering and sharing pictures of boxer puppies on Pinterest. I said “On what?” I had no idea what she was talking about. It’s not often that my mother gets the jump on me in the internet realm, but she certainly did this time. So I looked into it. Being a content strategist with more than a passing interest in technical communications, I’m afraid I looked at it from a somewhat unique point of view. The result? This article. (Thanks, Mom!)

  The Storyboard: An Outline for Visual Technical Communications

As technical communicators, we’re often assigned to projects that appeal to more than one sense—words, visuals and sounds—to convey a message. A multi-media technical communications project requires not only creative skills, but organizational skills as well. We can settle on a concept, a delivery method, and come up with ideas for visuals and copy points. But, we need feedback before we invest the time producing our project, or we may find we’ve gone down the proverbial rabbit hole and missed the intended goal of the project. The storyboard provides organization and makes it easy to get feedback before production begins.

  Ten Steps to Make Your Technical Translation Project a Success

With an increasing number of companies pursuing a presence for their products in other countries, your management team’s global strategy may involve the need to translate technical and support materials into other languages. This article describes ten effective steps technical writers, publishers, or communications managers can take to ensure that translation projects go smoothly and to everyone’s satisfaction.

  Building E-Books: A Tool Overview for Technical Writers

As e-books become another option for publishing technical content, writers are faced with more choices among the tools to produce them. In my previous articles on e-book readers and formats, I noted the similarities between e-book formats and the online help formats that technical writers have been using for many years. In this article, I’ll look at some of the tools you can use to create EPUB books, the most common e-book format. I’ll also show how you can convert an EPUB to Amazon’s Kindle format.

  It’s Time for a New Doctrine of Technical Communications

There is little doubt that technical communications is in crisis. Tech Comm 2.0 is what we have now, the result of a profound change in technical communications doctrine that occurred in the 80s and 90s. What we need now is a new doctrine of technical communications, a Tech Comm 3.0. The old tech comm doctrine is publication-based, but most technical communication taking place today is conversation-based. Not only does this affect the way tech comm should think about mechanical purity, it should also change the way it thinks about project scope.


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