A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

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1.
#33741

An Approach to Visually Creating and Editing Nested Compound Document

Currently, visual XML structured authoring applications can typically handle a small number of XML vocabularies. In some cases, they can even handle them in limited nested scenarios. One of the purposes of creating XML documents with compound vocabularies is to present related information on a given topic in different manners (tables, charts, etc). The synchronization of views between objects of different vocabularies in real-time editing helps authors realize this potential. In this presentation we will discuss an approach to visually creating, editing and synchronizing, nested compound XML vocabularies within one document. The open nature of the architecture enables developers to create plug-ins for new vocabularies including the ability to define synchronization. Also this architecture provides simple method to define visualization of a new vocabulary by utilizing plug-ins already developed and activated.

Wake, Nobuaki and Junpei Aoki. IDEAlliance (2004). Articles>Document Design>Information Design>XML

2.
#32434

Building Up a Site Wireframe

Every web designer should know and understand a Web site’s parameters before lifting a finger to start designing the site. In this article, you will learn the basics required to start designing business Web sites. While this information is useful if you want to build sites for others, it can also serve as a checklist article for sites you want to build for yourself.

Goin, Linda. Opera (2008). Articles>Web Design>Document Design>Information Design

3.
#34265

The Case for Simple Numbering

Rather than spend hours coming up with a complex numbering scheme, this might be an excuse to implement something far more straightforward discovered by an extensive readability study at IBM, of which I was a part. My work involved sitting behind a one-way mirror with a stopwatch, watching people take tests that involved, among other things, "how fast can you find Figure 3-4?" We had cameras mounted over the participant's shoulders and could watch them thumb through the documents, and we also monitored eye movements. Then we followed up with a short interview where we got feedback.

Techknowledgecorp (2007). Articles>Document Design>Information Design>Technical Writing

4.
#29440

Combining the Print and Online Media Offers Synergies

Companies had decades of experience in using printed materials to persuade readers to contact them, whether by phone, mail, or in person. This model of interaction with customers had worked so well and so predictably that we simply moved it online, largely unmodified. That was by no means wrong, but as Web technology and our comprehension of that technology both evolved, the approach proved limiting.

Hart, Geoffrey J.S. Geoff-Hart.com (2001). Articles>Document Design>Information Design

5.
#37264

Converting to Structured Content

You’re told that you need to move your content to XML. You have loads and loads of unstructured content. It’s in FrameMaker, Word, other desktop publish applications, or even more fun: it’s on paper.

Maddox, Sarah. ffeathers (2010). Articles>Documentation>Information Design>XML

6.
#34489

Creating Topics: Where do you Draw the Line?

It's hard to look at a page of text and try to decide where to divide things to create individual topics. That "bottom up" approach is kind of pointless, in fact. There are better ways.

Armstrong, Eric. Sun Microsystems (2008). Articles>Documentation>Information Design>Technical Writing

7.
#22466

Defining Information Architecture Deliverables

One of the hottest topics these days in Information Architecture circles is documentation. This is probably partly because the IA's role is so ill defined. Our jobs sit perched between engineering and graphic design: go too far in one direction, we're doing the coding, go to far in the other and we are doing the design. Neither role maximizes the architect's key skills; defining the organizational structure and behavior of the web site or application. An IA is most effective when they leave implementation and final graphic design out of the mix. The documents they create to express this have to be crafted with equal skill and diplomacy.

Wodtke, Christina. SitePoint (2001). Articles>Information Design>Documentation

8.
#37282

Discovering Relationship Tables

Lately I’ve been creating context-sensitive help for an online application. As part of my strategy, I’ve been trying to follow Theresa Putkey’s advice in “Usability in Context-Sensitive Help.” In her article, Theresa recommends providing more than just the steps for a specific task in the context-sensitive help window. Instead, she says to show more contextual links, including answers to why, when, and who questions, because too frequently the user who searches for help may have needs outside the specific task you describe.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2009). Articles>Information Design>Documentation>Help

9.
#36131

DITA Applications: Using Topics for Narrative Documents

DITA is applicable to many publishing applications, including traditional narrative documents that don't seem, at first look, like candidates for ditification.

Kimber, Eliot. Really Strategies Blog (2010). Articles>Information Design>DITA>Documentation

10.
#38048

Diverging Directions for Tech Comm: Social Media or Structured Authoring

Two powerful trends in tech comm seem to be moving in different directions: social media and structured authoring. I have used a wiki as my primary format for documentation for the past year and a half. I tried to corral a group of volunteer technical writers to edit and update the wiki, because I embraced the idea that collective intelligence beats the individual thinker in the long run. But even the most advanced wikis don’t have a structured authoring backend.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2011). Articles>Documentation>Information Design>XML

11.
#25379

Documenting in N-Dimensional Space

As technical communicators, we are being challenged with how to structure information in a multiple dimensional space made possible with Web technology.

Albing, Bill. KeyContent.org (2005). Articles>Documentation>Information Design

12.
#21657

Documenting Schemas   (PDF)

The issue of documenting schemas—or any machine readable language—goes beyond simple additions of comments. Thereal challengeistocreateschemasthat arereadablebothdirectlybylookingat their sourcecodeandbydocumentation extraction tools.

van der Vlist, Eric. O'Reilly and Associates (2001). Articles>Information Design>XML>Documentation

13.
#37316

Does Online Help Need an Overall Structure?

The way I learned to write documentation was that you started work on a new project by spending a decent amount of time getting to know your subject matter. I don't mean getting to know the software, I mean getting an understanding of the environment in which the software will be used and the reason for its existence - that is: what's the real value of the software to its users and what do they want to achieve by using it?

Christie, Alistair. ITauthor (2010). Articles>Documentation>Information Design>Technical Writing

14.
#36453

The Effects of Headings in Information Mapping on Search Speed and Evaluation of a Brief Health Education Text   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The accessibility of written information becomes an increasingly relevant issue in today's information-dense society. Although headings are generally known to signal textual content and thus aid access, it remains unclear how frequently headings should be used for optimal document use. Information Mapping© is a text writing method that systematically splits up text in chunks accompanied by headings. The present paper presents a study in which a print health education document was varied systematically in accordance with the Information Mapping method, to examine the effects of heading frequency and information order on participants' search speed and their evaluation of the text layout. Results showed that the presence of headings in a text indeed contributed to easier access in the search tasks. Although no differences in search speed were found with varying numbers of headings in the text, some subjective opinions were in favour of the version with most headings. The different information order of the Information Mapping text had no effect.

Kools, Marieke, Robert A.C. Ruiter and Margaretha W.J. van de Wiel. Journal of Information Science (2008). Articles>Document Design>Information Design>Scientific Communication

15.
#26733

Enterprise Agility: SOX and Enterprise Information Integration   (PDF)

The intent of Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) can be characterized as risk reduction: reduce errors, inhibit fraud, and provide shareholders with transparent equal-access to material knowledge. But implementation is principally procedural controls and documentation, under threat of penalty. The vague parts of SOX are where the real leverage lies: principles of intent, and corporate transparency.

Dove, Rick. Paradigm Shift International (2005). Articles>Knowledge Management>Information Design>Documentation

16.
#27912

Everything from One Source

In the city of Konstanz on the shores of Lake Constance, Siemens AG manufactures equipment for sorting post. Also at the same location, a team of 16 experts create the corresponding technical documentation. But their work is not restricted to handbooks and CDs. Since ten years, this department, called 'Technical Media', has also been taking care of multimedia and training.

Robers, Ralf. tekom (2006). Articles>Information Design>Single Sourcing>Documentation

17.
#29236

Explicit Structure in Print and On-Screen Documents   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The structure of print and on-screen documents is made explicit through headings and links. Three important concepts for understanding explicit structure are (1) the display-unit properties of each document medium, (2) the flexible relationship between explicit and implicit structure, and (3) the distinction between populated and unpopulated locations in a hierarchy. These concepts help us better understand standard print documents, structured writing, websites, help systems, and PowerPoint, as well as the potential effects of content management systems on how documents are created.

Farkas, David K. Technical Communication Quarterly (2005). Articles>Document Design>Information Design>Typography

18.
#19057

Full Text Available Documentation, Participatory Citizenship, and the Web: the Potential of Open Systems   (peer-reviewed)

Technical communicators have become increasingly interested in how to 'open up' the documentation process - to encourage workers to participate in developing documentation that closely fits their needs. This goal has led technical communicators to engage in usability testing, user-centered design approaches, and, more recently, open source documentation. Although these approaches have all had some success, there are other ways to encourage the participatory citizenship that is implied in these approaches. One way is through an open systems approach in which workers can consensually modify a given system and add their own contributions to the system.

Spinuzzi, Clay. ACM SIGDOC (2002). Articles>Documentation>Information Design>Open Source

19.
#36809

How to Write Interesting Headings for Documentation

Perhaps our headings should focus a bit more on user benefits? For example, "Overview of batch printing - Save time and improve document organization" is a bit more engaging, especially if your customer is struggling with those issues.

HelpScribe (2010). Articles>Documentation>Information Design>Technical Writing

20.
#36576

Image Maps for Help System Navigation

One of my goals was to make it easy to get help for using specific parts of our application. Users don’t need to know the name of the panel or feature they are trying to use. They just need to know where they are working on the screen, and they can click through to get the help that discusses that part of the screen.

Pehrson, Paul. Technically Speaking (2009). Articles>Documentation>Information Design>Technical Illustration

21.
#33338

Information Mapping

Information Mapping is a proprietary method for the analysis, organisation, and presentation of information. It is based on the needs of the users and their purpose in using the documentation. Information Mapping has three parts: analysis, organisation, presentation.

Unwalla, Mike. TechScribe (2007). Articles>Documentation>Information Design>Standards

22.
#19781

Information Planning for Successful Online Documentation   (PDF)

Creating an information plan should be the first phase of any publication development life cycle, whether hard copy or online. The plan is a tool for reporting the results of your research about your audience, their tasks, the market, and the product. The plan presents the basic organization and content of the publications you intend to build, effectively directing the documentation team to produce a publication with very specific goals in mind.

Stevens, Dawn M. STC Proceedings (1996). Articles>Information Design>Management>Documentation

23.
#25622

An Integrated Approach for a Model Based Document Production and Management

The primary aim of the research presented in this paper is to provide pragmatic solutions to the problems of integrity and consistency of document based information, describing a building throughout its life cycle. The research demonstrates the computer-aided generation of project documents via a construction project data model. The first research activity involved the development of a Construction Project Reference Model (CPRM) and a Document Reference Model, from which various Applied Document Type Models can be derived. The work concentrated on the French Full Specification Document: the CCTP (Cahier des Clauses Techniques Particulières), which is generated during the detail design stage. A generic Association Model was developed and used to index the CPRM’s concepts to the CCTP’s documentary elements supporting their description. Finally, the mechanisms enabling the generation of the project CCTP from the proposed structured reference CCTP are described.

Rezgui, Yacine and Philippe Debras. ITcon (1996). Articles>Document Design>Information Design

24.
#28941

Keeping Pace with Change

Documentation isn't the most fun part of design and IA, but does it have to be the most painful? Samantha Bailey looks at a tool that may help.

Bailey, Samantha. Boxes and Arrows. Articles>Documentation>Information Design

25.
#25838

Marrying Digital and Paper Documents

The use of physical paper or digital files is not an either/or choice. The two are complementary. Currently, there are many examples of paper used as an interface to digital processes. The UPC found on items we buy and the barcoded labels on the packages we send are two prevalent examples. Many papers we use to reach our customers or to do our work within our organizations have at least one barcode.

Zukowski, Deborra J. e-Doc (2005). Articles>Document Design>Information Design

 
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