TechWhirl: Technical Communications Recap for April 6, 2012

This week’s update on technical communications and the TechWhirl community is supported by Platinum sponsor ComponentOne & their Doc-To-Help Help Authoring Tool

We’ve had an amazingly busy week on many fronts, and like most of you, we’re looking forward to taking a breath and relaxing a bit during the holiday weekend.  As you’ve probably guessed, April Fools’ Day is one of our favorite celebrations, and we timed our first ever Technical Communications April Fools’ antics to coincide with the launch of the News site for TechWhirl. If you’ve ever doubted that vendors really can have a sense of humor, check out the “new releases” from Adobe, Vasont Systems, Thirty Six Software, XML Press, INKtopia and TechWhirl, a report on a kerfluffle in Memphis, along with “research” and “tips” from Component One, STC and Publishing Smarter.

Now you can get the latest and greatest news impacting the wide-ranging field of technical communications, and the best posts from bloggers who monitor the field, experiment with tools and predict the future. We hope you’ll take the opportunity to visit regularly.

We experienced our share of technology challenges as well.  Visitors to grew by 118 percent during the first quarter of 2012 (a good thing!), and our form hosting company struggled to keep up (a not-good thing).  We completed the move to a new provider pretty quickly (a very good thing) and both the magazine and the news site seemed to have finished their propagation exercises, are now speedily dishing out the great content you’ve come to expect (the best thing).

So much of the buzz in the technical communications field has to do with the monumental forces impacting what we do, how we do it, what we call it, and where we’re going.  For a fascinating, well-thought out and eloquent take on what’s going on in our profession, we encourage you to read guest columnist Mark Baker’s piece, “It’s Time for a New Doctrine of Technical Communications” and add to the great discussion by posting a comment of your own.

During April and May we’ll begin focusing “reframing the community,” from two different aspects.  April will look at how communities are forming, what tools they use (collaboration, crowdsourcing, etc.), and what it means for technical communications, while May looks at how face-to-face interactions are being replaced by the virtual.  As always, we look forward to hearing your views.

Enjoy the weekend!

-the Gang at TechWhirl

In Case You Missed it: This Week  @ TechWhirl

New features and articles on

April Fools on TechWhirl

Tech Comm News on

April Fools on News.TechWhirl

Technical Communications: What You’re Talking About

A quick shout out to our Technical Writers and their discussions in our email discussion group:

  • Craig Cardimon started a lively thread that has nearly the traffic of the threads on certification. He posted a link to a blog “Post on Technical Writing vs. Technical Communication,” and the resulted discussion, while full of good humor, does get us thinking once again on the changing nature of what we do.
  • Julie Stickler has been looking for “Source control software recommendations for doc team,” and Whirlers were happy to oblige with pros/cons and experiences using Subversion (SVN), Team Foundation Server, and one or two others.  Kudos to Richard Hamilton, Robert Lauriston, Tony Chung and Paul Pehrson for providing detailed recommendations.
  • Gregory Sweet is working on a large and complex extranet and wants ideas for how to label a portlet that provides access to 200 apps and more than 10,000 documents, by displaying the five most recently accessed links. Thoughtful responses took aim at usability, whether it’s personalized for the user, and the fact that it’s a static header… Gregory is leaning towards  “My Activity” b based on the discussions.

Social Media and the Chance to Follow TechWhirl:


We want to send a very special “thank you” to our sponsors for their support.

Platinum: Adobe Systems Incorporated

Gold: ComponentOne Software, Madcap Software

Silver: Society for Technical Communication (STC), Vancouver Island University


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