The Method M blog for technical writers, marketing staff, product managers and others who spend hours each week creating documents. This blog is dedicated to helping you work more efficiently and create better documents.
You can use the Adobe Creative Suite 3 Video Workshop to start learning about any application you're interested in, whether you own it or not. The Video Workshop shares expertise from across Adobe and the Adobe community--you'll learn tasks, tips, and tricks from leading designers, developers, and Adobe experts. There are introductory videos for new users, and more experienced users can find videos on new features and key techniques.
My client wanted screen shots in their CHM, but the screens were very large thus creating problems when printing a topic. With some help from Dave Gash, I got the large screen shots to open at 50% size, with a function for the user to resize them to 100% either all at once or one at a time. The function also toggled back to 50% at the user's discretion. This solved the problem of large screen shots in the online help, while allowing error-free printing to occur.
As other Help authoring tools (HATs) fall by the wayside or the scuttlebutt about their demise gets stronger, one HAT that continually gets favourable mention is AuthorIT. Maybe you've heard about it, but don't know what it is or how it is different from traditional HATs. In this article, I cover some of the main features of AuthorIT so you'll have enough information to investigate further.
Documentation is an important part of agile software development projects, but unlike traditionalists who often see documentation as a risk reduction strategy, agilists typically see documentation as a strategy which increases overall project risk and therefore strive to be as efficient as possible when it comes to documentation. Agilists write documentation when that's the best way to achieve the relevant goals, but there often proves to be better ways to achieve those goals than writing static documentation. This article summarizes common "best practices" which agilists have adopted with respect to documentation.
Often conflicting pressures to produce communications that better fit customer demands as well as stay within tightening constraints on budgets and schedules are leading many technical communications organizations to a topic-based approach to authoring. In fact, 58% of participants in Aberdeen Group's October 2008 DITA and the Technical Communicator’s Transformation study report that they currently follow author content in a topic-based manner, with a vast majority of those remaining planning to implement one in the future. A topic-based approach promotes greater content reuse and is seeing a considerable impact on the authoring efficiency of technical communications projects today. The benefits of topic-based authoring can be compelling, with findings from the The Technical Communicator’s Transformation study indicating that when pursued the right way, topic-based authoring can have a broad range of benefits, enabling an organization to meet authoring and localization cost targets as well as documentation quality expectations, among others. However, as the adoption of this approach spreads, the advantages seen by today's leading organizations will flatten out. This Sector Insight provides a guide for current adoption of topic-based authoring and those still considering it; outlining the changes that are expected to take place in as topic-based authoring goes mainstream.
Contains news and information on software and documentation issues, reports on survey into the current trends in technical communication, the future of Help / trends in user assistance, which Help authoring tool to buy, an introduction to single-sourcing, career advice, etc.
Defining quality means developing expectations or standards of quality. Standards can be developed for inputs, processes, or outcomes; they can be clinical or administrative. Unfortunately when it comes to documentation, many companies only focus on the standards related to time and accuracy. Quality standards should be in place for all aspect of the documentation development pathway—moving from planning, to authoring, to reviewing.
Known to write a script or two to automate repetitive tasks like help builds, she also likes to write posts about XML-based information models like Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA). She often experiments with online help technology, enjoys writing blog entries, and wants to find new ways to use communication to help people understand technical solutions to complex problems.
HAT-Matrix.com is a new representation of an old standard--the Help Authoring Tool (HAT) Comparison Matrix that was available from helpstuff.com for five years (2001-2006). But instead of a static list, this site uses a searchable database. And instead of someone choosing the tools that are included, vendors choose whether to include their tools.
In Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation, Anne Gentle offers tips for mashing up user-generated content with user assistance, including ways to bring Web 2.0 to user assistance, and vice-versa.