A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Design>Information Design

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Formatting Indexes

Formatting your index attractively can improve readability and help your audience to locate information quickly. The following tips apply to printed indexes.

Brown, Fred. Allegro Time! (2000). Articles>Indexing>Information Design


Four Modes of Seeking Information and How to Design for Them

Information-seeking behavior varies from situation to situation. Donna Mauer explores different ways in which users look for information and offers tactics for accommodating them.

Maurer, Donna. Boxes and Arrows (2006). Articles>User Centered Design>Information Design


Fourth-Generation Hypermedia: Some Missing Links for the World-Wide Web

World Wide Web authors must cope in a hypermedia environment analogous to second-generation computing languages, building and managing most hypermedia links using simple anchors and single-step navigation. Following this analogy, sophisticated application environments on the World Wide Web will require third- and fourth-generation hypermedia features. Implementing third- and fourth-generation hypermedia involves designing both high- level hypermedia features and the high-level authoring environments system developers build for authors to specify them. We present a set of high-level hypermedia features including typed nodes and links, link attributes, structure-based query, transclusions, warm and hot links, private and public links, hypermedia access permissions, computed personalized links, external link databases, link update mechanisms, overviews, trails, guided tours, backtracking, and history-based navigation. We ground our discussion in the hypermedia research literature, and illustrate each feature both from existing implementations and a running scenario. We also give some direction for implementing these on the World Wide Web and in other information systems.

Open University, The (1997). Articles>Information Design>Hypertext>Web Design


Frequently Asked Questions about the Darwin Information Typing Architecture

DITA experts Don Day, Michael Priestley, and Gretchen Hargis address the topic architecture of DITA, tips and techniques, and general DITA questions.

Day, Don, Michael Priestley and Gretchen Hargis. IBM (2001). Articles>Information Design>XML>DITA


Frequently Asked Questions about the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA)

DITA supports the proper construction of specialized DTDs from any higher-level DTD or schema. The base DTD is ditabase DTD, which contains an archetype topic structure and three additional peer topics that are typed specializations from the basic topic: concept, task, and reftopic. The principles of specialization and inheritance resemble the principle of variation in species proposed by Charles Darwin. So the name reminds us of the key extensibility mechanism inherent in the architecture.

Day, Don, Michael Priestley and Gretchen Hargis. IBM (2005). Articles>Information Design>XML>DITA


From Data Drought to Factoid Flood: Reinforcing the Banks of the River of Communication   (PDF)   (members only)

Information, once rare and valuable, is now as plentiful as it is meaningless. The constant accessibility rendered by various 'networking' technologies has led to a veritable glut of information. Deluged with data and flooded with facts, we are drowning in a river of communication with no clear direction or purpose. Media-mesmerized and stimuli-saturated, we are caught up in the murky current, making it increasingly more difficult to keep our heads above water. Whether we sink or swim will depend on how effective we are at controlling and managing the flow, how efficient we are at fishing for essence and meaning, and how adept we are at preserving the ecology between man and this digital morass.

Dahm, Rea Etta M. STC Proceedings (1999). Articles>Information Design>Usability


From Information Development to Knowledge Development

The world, particularly the ITC world, is abuzz with the term "knowledge sharing." Most of us thoroughly agree that knowledge must be shared. Often, the sharing is viewed only in the context of the product development teams. However, what about the users? We, the technical communicators, information developers, or whatever we prefer to call ourselves, are supposed to help our users in using our products efficiently. So, I guess we are the ones responsible to share our knowledge with the users.

Palagummi, Sharada. Indus (2009). Articles>Information Design>Knowledge Management


From Structured Abstracts to Structured Articles: A Modest Proposal   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Work with structured abstracts--which contain sub-headings in a standard order--has suggested that such abstracts contain more information, are of a higher quality, and are easier to search and to read than are traditional abstracts. The aim of this article is to suggest that this work with structured abstracts can be extended to cover scientific articles as a whole. The article outlines a set of sub-headings--drawn from research on academic writing--that can be used to make the presentation of scientific papers easier to read and to write. Twenty published research papers are then analyzed in terms of these sub-headings. The analysis, with some reservations, supports the viability of this approach.

Hartley, James. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (1999). Articles>Information Design>Metadata>Writing


From Tech Pubs to Information Management   (PDF)

The need to make software easy to use and to integrate learning information into software products is changing roles of information developers at DDS. On the one hand information developers are now an integral part of design teams rather than members of a central technical publications group. On the other hand, decentralized development and online delivery require new types of central management and coordination. There’s more need than ever for formal standards, explicit information architecture, and defined best practices. Goals include effectiveness and timely delivery of product information, common look and feel, usability, and elimination of redundant work across departments throughout the life cycle.

Dykstra, Peter. STC Proceedings (2001). Articles>Information Design


From Theory to Practice: Using the Information Process-Maturity Model as a Tool for Strategic Planning    (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Strategic planning is no longer an option for an information-development organization that hopes to survive and thrive in the current climate of downsizing and outsourcing. Information developers must prove their value to their products and their organizations and demonstrate that they are aligned with corporate goals and objectives. Use strategic planning both as a tool to improve your organization and as a sign that you are willing to look closely at the old and comfortable ways of working and make significant quality and process improvements.

Hackos, JoAnn T. Technical Communication Online (1997). Design>Information Design


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


Functional XML: A Preliminary Sketch

Existing XML processing models are pipelines, controlled by pipeline descriptions which resemble shell scripts. Functional XML allows XML documents to specify their own processing explicitly, without losing the generality of the pipeline script approach.

Thompson, Henry S. IDEAlliance (2005). Articles>Information Design>XML


The Future of Hypertext

In the short term of three to five years, I don't really expect significant changes in the way hypertext is done compared to the currently known systems. Of course new stuff will be invented all the time, but just getting the things we already have in the laboratory out into the world will be more than enough. I expect to see three major changes: the consolidation of the mass market for hypertext; commercial information services on the Internet; the integration of hypertext and other computer facilities.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (1995). Articles>Information Design>Hypertext


The Future of XML Information Management

Discusses how XML is changing the definition of 'Information Management' and the challenges associated with this change. XML provides endless opportunities when it comes to solving complex data issues companies face today from data integration to implementation of Service Oriented Architectures(SOA). Companies that choose to exploit the advantages of XML will undoubtly gain an edge over their competitors but will also be required to solve the challenges around how to best manage and service XML data without compromising data security and integrity.

Picciano, Robert. IDEAlliance (2005). Articles>Information Design>XML>Planning


Future Travels of the InfoWrangler

Some of the questions most commonly asked by professionals in a given field are 'where is the field headed?' and 'how will that affect me?' In this article, I give one person's view of where the fields of technical communication, training, and marketing communications are headed and how that might affect people working in those fields.

Carliner, Saul. Intercom (1998). Careers>Information Design


Games, Information Design, and New Technologies for Technical Communicators  (link broken)   (PDF)

Developments in communication technologies such as video scriptwriting and interactive multimedia require that technical communicators develop the skills and literacies necessary for adapting to the demands of designing information for media other than print. This paper presents a semiotic theory and model of multimedia discourse which will help technical communicators conceptualize and produce texts in new media. The model operates on the premise that communication practices can be considered as language games. The model focuses on the rhetorical and semiotic features of multimedia language games, and how to manipulate them.

Heba, Gary M. STC Proceedings (1993). Presentations>Information Design>Multimedia>Games


Ganzheitliche Informationslogistik Unterstützt die Technische Dokumentation   (Word)

Nicht selten wird die technische Dokumentation nur nebenbei erstellt, obwohl gute Gründe für eine stärkere Beachtung dieses potenziellen Marketinginstruments sprechen: Rechtliche Bestimmungen erzwingen bestimmte Informationen (wie etwa Sicherheitshinweise) sowie die Qualität und Form, in der sie angebracht werden müssen. Fehlende oder zu spät gelieferte Dokumentation verursacht Zahlungsausfälle in Millionenhöhe. Dokumentation und Information wird zunehmend als zusätzlicher Service, also Mehrwert für den Kunden interessant. Darüber hinaus stellt der Bereich der Dokumentation die Keimzelle für technische Informationssysteme z.B. für das Wissensmanagement oder auch die Qualitätssicherung dar, da in diesen Abteilungen ohnehin bereits sehr große Mengen des technischen Know-hows im Unternehmen vorliegen. Im folgenden Beitrag lesen Sie, wie XML und .NET den Produktionsprozess positiv beeinflussen.

Freisler, Stefan. Doculine (2002). (German) Articles>Information Design>XML


A Generalized Grammar for Three-way XML Synchronization

This paper proposes a general synchronization grammar which can describe synchronization rule sets. For example, when handling three input files, we show that changes to elements can be described in terms of just seven possible permutations. Similarly, PCDATA and attribute changes can be described in terms of a fixed set of permutations. Using these permutations a grammar is proposed, allowing precise description of synchronization algorithms and rule sets and providing a testable framework for their implementation. The paper applies the resulting grammar to existing synchronization tools and technologies and shows how the grammar can be applied to provide solutions for specific application areas, including document workflow and translation.

La Fontaine, Robin and Nigel Whitaker. IDEAlliance (2005). Articles>Information Design>Programming>XML


Generate a Site Plan

Generating a site plan is an optimal approach to starting your site.

Tech-Writer (2001). Design>Web Design>Information Design>Project Management


Generating and Hosting a SQL Server Reporting Services Report Using SQL Server 2005 Business Intelligence Development Studio

A step-by-step must read article on SQL 2005 Reporting Services which creates a report and hosts it on an intranet server.

Krishnaswamy, Jayaram. ASPAlliance (2006). Articles>Information Design>Databases>SQL


Generating XML Schema Dynamically Using VB.NET 2005: Essentials

This is the first article in a series concentrating on generating XML Schema dynamically using Visual Basic 2005. The series is mainly targeted at those who are familiar with XML, XML Schema and the .NET framework.

Chaterjee, Jagadish. ASP Free (2006). Articles>Information Design>XML>ASP


Geographic Information Systems   (PDF)

Explains GIS (geographic information systems), which capture and display geographically referenced information) and suggests ways that technical communicators can become more involved with this technology.

Pettit Jones, Colleen. Intercom (2003). Articles>Information Design>Technical Illustration>Geography


Get on Board the XML Train

The next century will be an XML century, make no mistake about it. All our documents, even checks, credit card slips, personal letters, recipes, technical documents, everything, will benefit from XML technologies. Students are already learning XML in schools, and big businesses are using it to publish their databases on the web. The appearance of the electronic spreadsheet ten years ago changed the way we do business. XML will change the way we write documents.

DuBay, William H. Impact Information (1999). Articles>Information Design>Standards>XML


Get ROI from Design  (link broken)

Explains that specific, measurable objectives and post-launch measurements are crucial for successfully achieving ROI (return on investment) goals. He also provides several examples aligning business and design initiatives, and prioritizing design projects relative to their ROI.

Souza, Randy. Forrester Research (2001). Design>Information Design>Usability



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