A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Stieren, Carl

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1.
#24121

Add One Egg, a Cup of Milk, and Stir: Single Source Documentation for Today

What happens when the software firm you work for decides it will not deliver large printed manuals any more? Then the request comes to put everything online. Six months later, user profiles shift to the World Wide Web and you're asked to deliver HTML. In the future, a database of SGML information chunks may let us deliver anything, any which way. Today, we must devise a system that allows us to 'author once, publish many'. Such as system is crucial for software and hardware documentation. The method I chose was to go from FrameMaker to Acrobat .pdf files to HTML. I wrote in Adobe FrameMaker, then converted to .pdf files with Adobe Acrobat, and converted FrameMaker to HTML files with Quadralay WebWorks Publisher. But while we're waiting for the future, just learning SGML and diving deep into DTDs alone could be a mistake. SGML is a language which sets out structure, and most of us are concerned with content. Enter Information Mapping, or information types of your own devising. Identifying chunks of information such as a procedure for changing the default printer is extremely important. If we then mark each chunk for an index and record its type and title, we've also got the keywords for a future database.

Stieren, Carl. Simware (1997). Articles>Documentation>Single Sourcing>Adobe FrameMaker

2.
#18518

Designing Two Nonprofit Web Sites on Less Than $350 US Per Year Each

What do you need to design a World Wide Web site for a nonprofit organization? If you have less than $350 U.S. per year, you need knowledgeable, dedicated volunteers with HTML and design skills, and their own computers. Then you can weave the Web to fit both the readers' needs and the creators' skills. To create content and a workable organization, follow four key rules: 1) know the needs of your potential readers, 2) select a well-defined content area, 3) use available (or affordable) technology, and 4) set up a mechanism for approval, organization and change. Two Ottawa-based Web sites met these rules in different ways. Peaceweb, the World Wide Web page on Quaker peace and social concerns, set out rules for approval, organization and change first. PoloniaNet, the Polish-Canadian Web site, staked out a well-defined content area first. Each group had a strong sense of identity and a common vision. While each of the two groups had multitalented individuals, other nonprofits may need different persons to fill each of the four roles described by Joel Snyder [2]: architect, graphics designer, programmer, and content provider.

Stieren, Carl and Zbigniew 'Paul' Rachniowski. Simware (1997). Design>Web Design>Consulting>Volunteering

3.
#24119

"I Sent You the File as Plain Text!" And Other Lies

Procedures for how to send a file as RTF or plain text in the body of an email.

Stieren, Carl. Simware (1998). Articles>Collaboration>Online>Email

4.
#10829

Single Source Documentation for Today

What happens when the software firm you work for decides it will not deliver large printed manuals any more? Then the request comes to put everything online. Six months later, user profiles shift to the World Wide Web and you're asked to deliver HTML. In the future, a database of SGML information chunks may let us deliver anything, any which way.

Stieren, Carl. Simware (1997). Design>Documentation>Single Sourcing>Online

5.
#24120

The Zen of Minimalism: Designing a Top-of-Class Manual for Beginners and Advanced Users

Can using minimalist documentation improve accuracy and learning speed for beginners as well as for advanced users? I tested this question using Microsoft Access for Windows 95 ® and three different third-party manuals explaining this product. Then I set up three main tasks for the user in a usability test. For each task, I provided the task description in blue type, and then copied the appropriate documentation in black. Documentation for each of the three tasks was reprinted from a different book.

Stieren, Carl. Simware (1998). Articles>Documentation>Technical Writing>Minimalism

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