TechWhirl: Technical Communications Recap for March 2, 2012

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

TechWhirl finishes out the month of February with two features on the hottest new things in visuals for technical communications, and heads into March with a new poll on translation challenges.  Plus Technical Communications News that impacts your career, your team and your organization, and highlights from the email discussion list.

In Case You Missed it: This Week  @ TechWhirl

New features and articles on

Tech Comm News:


Technical Communications: What You’re Talking About

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

  • Sean McKean has a document to write that also needs classification.  He asked Whirlers “What type of document is this?” 50 pages that describe what the software does with high level overview of the product’s features.  The debate swirls around what to call it, with emphasis that it’s a customer-facing, post-release document. Regardless whether technical communications or marketing “should” be writing it, Sean has the task.  He’s narrowed his list to Feature Guide, Functional Description, Product Description Document or Product Guide.
  • Kevin McLaughlin described another marketing-tech comm related issue occurring within his organization concerning “spam and who you formerly were.” As mergers and acquisitions are a part of the business world, so goes the customer lists, and often the acquiring company does not provide clear information on how customers of the old organization may opt out.  In addition to sparking some discussion on ensuring that customer messages provide clear alternatives for opting out and reporting spam, the scenario also highlights the fact that technical communications pros take on many more customer-facing tasks than they have in the past.  It’s a “cautionary tale” on several levels.
  • Katarina Bovin is looking for recommendations for or alternatives to a Wiki for maintaining an internal glossary. Among others, Robert Lauriston, Tony Chung and Richard Hamilton listed a number of alternatives (including tikiwiki, twiki, Confluence, Drupal, and others), and security. Thanks to Richard for providing a great resource on comparing wiki solutions:

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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