TechWhirl: Technical Communication Recap for January 17, 2014

technical communication recap for July 5Sometimes it appears that has been working out… bulking up.  Especially on weeks such as this, with some terrific columns, and comprehensive reviews of new tech comm tool releases. If you have an interest in user assistance, content creation, and delivery for a better experience, we had some thought-provoking and revelatory articles that you should take a look at.

Edward Smyda-Homa, aka @uselessassist, has some real, practical guidance and feedback that applies both to creating good technical content, and to providing a good customer experience—or not—as he explores why user frustration is Prettier in Pink—Barbie Playhouse pink that is. Think that support for toy assembly is a far cry from the kind of content you produce? Read Useless Assistance this month and you’ll probably change your mind.

The community forums/email discussion list always has some interesting debates, including some commentary on the Users’ Advocate column this month from Mark Baker. Join in the discussion about whether to Write One Good Page. I have found few things more educational than a good debate between Mark and Tom Johnson (I’d Rather Be Writing).  Check it out and join in.

Adobe launched a major release of Technical Communication Suite 5 on Tuesday, and I found myself in heady company as I joined Matt Sullivan (, Bernard Aschwanden ( and Jacquie Samuels ( in reviewing the major components of the new release: RoboHelp 11, FrameMaker 12, and FrameMaker XML Author 12.

As always, if you have ideas for topics we should be covering somewhere on TechWhirl, or if you’re interested in joining our elite team of Special Writers, drop me a note.

Have a great weekend!

-Connie and the gang at TechWhirl

The writer's friend: black gold

The writer’s friend: black gold

Tech Writer This Week for January 16, 2014

In this edition of Tech Writer This Week, we’re celebrating coffee and all of its magical powers, while bringing you the best in techcomm, CXM and content management.


Intelligent Content Conference 2014: Breaking Down Barriers

In the landscape of 21st century communication, content professionals face challenges to deliver meaningful content at the right time to the right audience members in their preferred formats. The Intelligent Content Conference (ICC) provides an opportunity to learn secrets from over 70 professionals as they share examples, standards, methods, strategies, and tools.


Users’ Advocate: Write One Good Page

We worry far too much about trying to create a logical well organized documentation set. We would do well to focus more on writing one good page. That is the best thing you can possibly do for your readers today.


Adobe Technical Communication Suite 5 First Look Review

So here we have TCS5, with a slew of new and improved features, and it’s time to ask again, should we hop on board and get current, or sit back and see what happens next time. For me, the choice is obvious: Mobile publishing options and improved user experience make this a must-have upgrade.

 Adobe FrameMaker 12

Adobe FrameMaker 12 First Look Review

Will 2014 be a blockbuster year? The year’s just begun and the new Adobe FrameMaker 12 is out. I’d call it Fast and Furious FM12– because this latest release focuses on speed, in launch, productivity and collaboration.

 Adobe RoboHelp 11

Adobe RoboHelp 11 First Look Review

The complex challenges of delivering useful content across so many platforms under so many conditions grow by the day; it’s a horse race that never finishes. Happily, with the latest release of RoboHelp 11, Adobe has provided enhancements and new features actually designed to help today’s TWs finish the race.

 Adobe FrameMaker XML Author 12

Adobe FrameMaker XML Author 12 First Look Review

With the release of FrameMaker 12, Adobe offers a new product that also can be purchased as a standalone XML authoring tool, without all the typical FrameMaker bells and whistles that often don’t apply to DITA or other XML authors. Adobe FrameMaker XML Author 12 is for people who like the FrameMaker interface (or are just used to it), but only need it for XML or DITA content.

 Useless Assistance Pretty in Pink

Useless Assistance: Frustration is Prettier in Pink

Edward Smyda-Homa dissects the most tweeted useless assistance experience of Christmas 2013, the amazing adventures of thousands of people who tried to assemble the Barbie Dreamhouse Playset. A cautionary tale for all writers of instructions…

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