A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

O'Keefe, Sarah S.

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1.
#34710

Authoring Tools Do Matter

The authoring tool does matter. Writers are focusing on the wrong set of issues (leading, kerning, print formatting), none of which is actually relevant for the output.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Palimpsest (2009). Articles>Documentation>Technical Writing>Software

2.
#34135

Building Efficient Multilingual Workflows   (PDF)   (members only)

O’Keefe gives detailed information on two technology standards that may be used in multilingual workflows: XSL and XLIFF.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Intercom (2009). Articles>Content Management>Workflow>Translation

3.
#38615

Efficient Technical Content Development

A basic prerequisite for good content strategy is that the content should be of good quality—accurate, concise, and complete. An efficient workflow with professional technical communicators creating high-value information is typically the least expensive option (better, faster, and cheaper).

O'Keefe, Sarah and Alan S. Pringle. Content Strategy 101 (2012). Articles>Documentation>Content Strategy>Technical Writing

4.
#38614

The Fallacy of Low-Cost Documentation

It is acceptable to assess your organization’s content requirements and embark on a strategy of producing indifferent content cheaply (the “meh” strategy). The vast majority of organizations who adopt a laissez-faire attitude, however, have not thought through the implications.

O'Keefe, Sarah and Alan S. Pringle. Content Strategy 101 (2012). Articles>Documentation>Management>Technical Writing

5.
#31579

Friend or Foe? Web 2.0 in Technical Communication   (PDF)

The rise of Web 2.0 technology provides a platform for user-generated content. Publishing is no longer restricted to a few technical writers—any user can now contribute information. But the information coming from users tends to be highly specific, whereas technical documentation is comprehensive but less specific. The two types of information can coexist and improve the overall user experience. User-generated content also offers an opportunity for technical writers to participate as “curators”—by evaluating and organizing the information provided by end users.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Scriptorium (2008). Articles>Web Design>Technical Writing>Social Networking

6.
#32797

The Hidden Cost of DITA   (PDF)   (members only)

Many people see DITA architecture as a shortcut to avoiding content modeling. O'Keefe warns readers against this mistake.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Intercom (2008). Articles>Information Design>XML>DITA

7.
#35316

A Mercenary View of STC

The mission of STC is to “advance the arts and sciences of technical communication.” How does this help you, the member? I have been a freelancer/business owner for the vast majority of my career (so far). Let me say a few things about STC’s value proposition for mercenaries like me.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Scriptorium (2009). Articles>TC>Professionalism>STC

8.
#36902

A Mercenary View of STC

I have been a freelancer/business owner for the vast majority of my career (so far). Let me say a few things about STC's value proposition for mercenaries like me.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Carolina Communique (2009). Articles>TC>Professionalism>STC

9.
#33746

Palimpsest

A blog about publishing and technical communications.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Scriptorium. Resources>TC>Documentation>Blogs

10.
#31742

Paradigm Shifts are Never Pretty: Advice on Making the Move to XML Authoring

Most people are risk-averse, and profound changes such as the move to structured authoring require new skills and workflows. To ensure a successful transition, XML implementers need to assess their team members, identify allies, and build their implementation strategy around the staff members who embrace change.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Content Wrangler, The (2008). Articles>Content Management>Project Management>XML

11.
#32179

Paradigm Shifts are Never Pretty: Advice on Making the Move to XML Authoring

The move toward XML-based authoring in technical publications is a classic paradigm shift. It requires content creators to change their writing process and learn new concepts.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. TechCom Manager (2008). Articles>Writing>XML>Technical Writing

12.
#36083

Predictions for Technical Communication

It’s time for my (apparently biennial) predictions post. For those of you keeping score at home, you can see the last round of predictions here. Executive summary: no clear leader for DITA editing, reuse analyzers, Web 2.0 integration, global business, Flash. In retrospect, I didn’t exactly stick my neck out on any of those. Let’s see if I can do better this year.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Scriptorium (2010). Articles>TC>Planning

13.
#30784

Publishing XML Content with XSL   (PDF)   (members only)

How do you convert your application-neutral, vendor-neutral, unformatted XML content into paginated content (such as PDF) or HTML? O'Keefe introduces one solution: the Extensible Stylesheet Language, a programming language for processing XML.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Intercom (2008). Articles>Information Design>XML>XSL

14.
#31580

A Quarky New Approach?

Sorry, guys, but what you're describing is "single sourcing" and it's been around for a while. And I don't think redefining "dynamic publishing" is going to work, either, because that term already means something.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Palimpsest (2008). Articles>Document Design>Single Sourcing>QuarkXPress

15.
#31583

Social Media 101: Now Everyone's a Technical Writer

Free and cheap tools (blogging software, cheap digital cameras) have made "many-to-many" communication possible. This is sometimes called the "rise of the creative class." People are shifting from being consumers to creators.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Palimpsest (2008). Articles>Writing>Collaboration>Social Networking

16.
#35218

A Strident Defense of Mediocre Formatting

Formatting automation removes cost from the process of creating and delivering content. For technical documents that change often and are perhaps delivered in multiple languages, it removes a lot of cost. Essentially, we can produce documents inexpensively and give more people access to them as a direct result of lower cost, or we can climb on our typographic high horse and whine about word spacing. I’m with the noisome fanboys.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Scriptorium (2009). (Afrikaans) Articles>Document Design>Typography>Minimalism

17.
#19468

Structured Authoring and XML   (PDF)

Implementing structured authoring with XML allows organizations to create better content. The addition of hierarchy and metadata to content improves reuse and content management. These benefits, however, must be weighed against the time and money required to implement a structured authoring approach. The business case is compelling for larger writing organizations; they will be the first to adopt structured authoring. Over time, improvements in available tools will reduce the cost of implementing structured authoring and make it affordable for smaller organizations.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Scriptorium (2002). Design>Publishing>Information Design>XML

18.
#28185

Structured Authoring and XML: Part One

Implementing structured authoring with XML allows organizations to create better content. The addition of hierarchy and metadata to content improves reuse and content management. These benefits, however, must be weighed against the time and money required to implement a structured authoring approach. The business case is compelling for larger writing organizations; they will be the first to adopt structured authoring. Over time, improvements in available tools will reduce the cost of implementing structured authoring and make it affordable for smaller organizations.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Carolina Communique (2003). Articles>Documentation>Information Design>XML

19.
#28177

Structured Authoring and XML: Part Three

Not every content-creation group will benefit from structured authoring and XML. Sometimes, the expense of implementation outweighs the benefits realized, especially in smaller groups with less total page count.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Carolina Communique (2004). Articles>Documentation>Information Design>XML

20.
#28186

Structured Authoring and XML: Part Two

In a structured authoring environment, authors create documents by assembling elements and text in an order permitted by the structure definition document. You might think of structured authoring as being similar to template-based authoring with a strict template. Authors do not assign formatting; the formatting is automatically assigned based on the structure of the document. Formatting may differ for different output media.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Carolina Communique (2003). Articles>Documentation>Information Design>XML

21.
#36842

Technology Matters

An excellent writer with more experience is better than an excellent writer with less experience. An average writer with great tools knowledge is better than an average writer with average tools knowledge. That said, I think there’s a point of diminishing returns.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Scriptorium (2010). Articles>Technology>Writing

22.
#32227

The Hidden Cost of DITA

In the past few years, we have implemented both DITA-based and custom XML solutions for our customers. Given the right set of circumstances, DITA provides an excellent foundation for structured content. But I seem to be in significant disagreement with DITA advocates about how often the "right set of circumstances" is present.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Carolina Communique (2008). Articles>Documentation>XML>DITA

23.
#34695

This is the Future of Technical Communication

In the absence of safety concerns, I think that accuracy must win. Thus, as the information curator, you have a responsibility to correct inaccurate information. If the inaccuracy is truly dangerous, you may need to edit the post directly. Make sure that you disclosure what you've done with brackets.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Palimpsest (2009). Articles>TC>Technical Writing>Wikis

24.
#33649

Web 2.0: The Tipping Point for XML   (PDF)   (members only)

Have you been waiting for the right time to switch to XML publishing? O’Keefe illustrates that with the advent of Web 2.0, the time is now.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Intercom (2009). Articles>Web Design>XML>Social Networking

25.
#33400

What Do Movable Type and XML Have in Common?   (PDF)   (members only)

Compares Gutenberg's invention of the movable type to the creation of XML. But where movable type changed the “economics of a mechanical process,” XML changed the “economics of content authoring, formatting, and customization.”

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Intercom (2008). Articles>Information Design>Publishing>XML

 
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