A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Content Wrangler, The

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Alfresco Is Not A Picnic: The Problem With Metaphors and Content Management Systems

In the content management system I currently use, I’ve noticed no less than nine metaphors, which are meant serve as organizing principles, but they don’t. Granted, the particular tool I use isn’t really meant for gobs and gobs of editorial work, but nonetheless its organization and structure were likely created by a developer within arm’s reach of a bottle of tequila.

Bochman, Felice. Content Wrangler, The (2008). Articles>Content Management>Open Source>Alfresco


Choosing an XML Schema: DocBook or DITA?

If you follow the latest trends or have been to a conference recently, you may find the idea of choosing an XML schema puzzling. Isn't the question really, 'How should I customize DITA to do what I want'? While there are many good reasons to choose DITA, it's not the only schema in town.

Hamilton, Richard. Content Wrangler, The (2008). Articles>Information Design>DocBook>DITA


Comics Can Make You A Better Communicator

Comics are a medium. Just like film, theater, prose, poetry or any other process of telling stories comics can be used to convey all sort so information about a wide variety of subjects to multiple audiences. Comics can make you laugh, cry, gasp in wonder, shake in terror and they can also make great instruction manuals, training aids, white papers, or any other type of business or technical communication you can think of.

Porter, Alan J. Content Wrangler, The (2010). Articles>TC>Technical Illustration>Graphic Design


Content Reuse: Is It Harmful?

For a number of years it has been a matter of faith that the more content a technical documentation team reuses, the more efficient they are presumed to be. But, are you really more efficient? Let’s take a deeper look.

Hamilton, Richard. Content Wrangler, The (2008). Articles>Content Management


The Content Wrangler

The Content Wrangler contains a variety of resources and information for technical communicators interested in single-sourcing, content management, structured authoring, XML and more. Registered users gain access to "members only" content, user profiles, and special offers from vendors, publishers and trade associations.

Abel, Scott. Content Wrangler, The (2004). Resources>Content Management>Single Sourcing>Blogs


Convergence Technical Communication: Strategies for Incorporating Web 2.0

"Convergence Technical Communication" (CTC) is technical communication that provides information in several forms, including Web 2.0 delivery mechanisms, to improve the user experience. Most of the content is generated by technical communicators; a portion by users. Web 2.0 makes it possible to create additional deliverables that enhance the user experience several different ways. First, it engages the different learning styles of our audience. Second, it improves user satisfaction with your product by creating communities of practice that allow users to participate in the conversation. Finally, any feedback and suggestions obtained can be used to improve the core deliverable set.

Bleiel, Nicky. Content Wrangler, The (2009). Articles>TC>Content Management>Social Networking


DITA For Business Documents? New OASIS Committee Says "Yes!"

Think DITA is just for procedural technical documents? Think again. A new OASIS DITA sub-committee has been announced whose purpose it is to explore using the popular technical documentation standard known as the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) outside technical documentation projects.

Content Wrangler, The (2007). Articles>Business Communication>XML>DITA


DITA Metrics: Developing Cost Metrics

This paper helps you determine the cost portion of the ROI calculation. What are my costs now? What will my new costs be with DITA? This paper describes one model for calculating the cost of a DITA project. After doing some content analysis on your own documentation set, you can customize this cost model to suit your documentation project needs. In the end, you should be able to speak the financial language of managers and prove to them in dollar signs the value of moving to DITA.

Lewis, Mark A. Content Wrangler, The (2009). Articles>Project Management>Business Case>DITA


DITA Metrics: Savings Trend With Reusable Master Topics

This is the second installment of the DITA Metrics series which examines the cost and reuse values for a DITA project to determine DITA ROI. This paper looks at the savings trend when reusable master topics are used to document similar products. How much does it cost to document each additional similar product?

Lewis, Mark A. Content Wrangler, The (2009). Articles>Project Management>Business Case>DITA


DITA, Metadata Maturity and the Case for Taxonomy

Many organizations have turned to component-oriented content creation to create more sophisticated knowledge products, in more languages, and at lower cost. Our research shows that organizations that use XML authoring are more mature than their peers with respect to the adoption of best practices for search and metadata. However, the use of native DITA metadata capabilities is rare, and many are also missing out on opportunities to use taxonomy for content reuse and improved content findability. This article examines the metadata capabilities within DITA (and content management systems), discusses two major benefits that can be achieved by using descriptive metadata and taxonomy, and recommends some best practices for getting started with metadata for component-oriented content.

Wlodarczyk, Paul and Stephanie Lemieux. Content Wrangler, The (2010). Articles>Information Design>Taxonomy>DITA


DITA: Opportunities To Help Shape The Standard, Promote DITA Adoption, Develop Real-World Solutions

Want to get involved in the formation of one of the most important XML standards impacting content professionals? You can. And, you should. The folks at OASIS—the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards—have made it easy for just about anyone to participate.

Content Wrangler, The. Articles>Information Design>XML>DITA


Economic Woes Signal Content Industry Job Losses: It Could Happen To You!

One thing this experience has taught me is that basically, most people, are good, concerned and genuinely want to help you in your time of need.

Hoffmann, Maxwell. Content Wrangler, The (2008). Careers>Unemployment


Effective Content Reuse: Storing Paragraphs, Not Topics, Is Key to Content Management Success

Most content management organizations promote the concept that in order to reuse content you must segment content into topics. This approach works well for technical information because with technical content you are describing concepts, asking people to perform tasks or follow steps, or providing reference material. Consequently, you can reasonably and easily create topics that represent concise ideas, and ultimately, small chunks of content. However, while people might comprehend the benefits that topic-oriented documentation provides, they generally don't grasp the downsides of such an approach.

Trotter, Paul. Content Wrangler, The (2008). Articles>Content Management>Methods


Enabling Information Sharing Integrity

Most companies accept the rapid obsolescence of their documents as an unavoidable cost of doing business. Its not. When dynamic documents replace static documents, users can bring together disparate, distributed data and content and combine it in a single document that is always accurate and up-to-date.

Sorofman, Jake. Content Wrangler, The (2008). Articles>Content Management>XML>Collaboration


Endless Possibilities: Norm Walsh on the Changing Nature of Publishing

Why XML documents aren’t a good fit for relational databases, how university professors are creating custom text books for students, and find links to several innovative projects that are demonstrating the power of XML and its cousin XQuery.

Walsh, Norman and Scott Abel. Content Wrangler, The (2009). Articles>Interviews>Information Design>XML


Five Reasons Freelancers Make More Money Writing White Papers

Are you looking to drum up some new business? Want to get more dollars from existing clients? Are you a starving writer? White paper expert Michael A. Stelzner provides the following reasons white papers could dramatically increase your writing revenue:

Stelzner, Michael A. Content Wrangler, The (2008). Articles>Freelance>Writing>White Papers


Gantt to Glory: Evolving from Project Management to Successful Web Operations

Is the sheer possession of a PMP intended to be the Holy Grail of successful web projects, known to fail at a startling rate, or simply a way to divorce oneself from whatever outcome may result from the web project?

Podnar, Kristina. Content Wrangler, The (2008). Articles>Web Design>Project Management>Planning


Information Architecture for My Office

To get a handle on the challenge in front of me, I created a complete item inventory of everything currently in my office. I used Microsoft Excel and created a spreadsheet.

Swope, Amber. Content Wrangler, The (2008). Articles>Information Design>Workplace


It's In The Mix: The Next Generation Of Open Source Publishing

The same principles behind music remixing are at the heart of a hugely important open source software documentation experiment, taking place on the web today. It’s called FLOSS Manuals, a content remixing project that provides its website visitors with the ability to read, write and remix documentation.

Abel, Scott. Content Wrangler, The (2008). Articles>Content Management>Documentation>Personalization


Making Learning Easy: An Interview with Lee LeFever of CommonCraft

In this exclusive interview with The Content Wrangler, Scott Abel interviews Lee Lefevre, Founder of Common Craft, creators of three-minute videos designed to help educators and influencers introduce and explain complex subjects.

LeFever, Lee. Content Wrangler, The (2010). Articles>Interviews>Instructional Design>Podcasting


Marketing Mistakes In A Socially-Connected World

Regardless of what you think about relational databases versus other types of database solutions, Oracle’s approach is stupid because they don’t know the difference between choosing a good enemy and a bad one.

Abel, Scott. Content Wrangler, The (2010). Articles>Social Networking>Marketing>Case Studies


Marking Up The Fab Four: Just Imagine What XML Could Do For Your Books

This post is the first in a planned series of articles that examine how the traditional book industry could benefit from adopting XML.

Porter, Alan J. Content Wrangler, The (2010). Articles>Publishing>XML


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


Reimagining the Book Publishing World With XML

In order to profit--literally--from the new digital markets, publishers must rethink the way they create, manage, publish, and deliver content. They must re-engineer their processes to create more flexibility and guarantee a sustainable and certain future. They must re-imagine a production process that frees their content to be transformed--on-demand--into whatever new formats, devices, and uses consumers require, now and for the future.

Ganesan, Dev. Content Wrangler, The (2010). Articles>Publishing>Information Design>XML


The Right and Wrong of Quark and Adobe Strategies

What distinguishes the underlying strategies of Adobe InDesign from QuarkXPress is the absence or presence of a content management system (CMS). And each company asserts that it’s following the less-traveled road. The problem is they’re both taking roads most traveled because of their respective stances towards integrated content management systems, and I’ll show you how after looking at their respective strategies.

Kuhnen, Eric. Content Wrangler, The (2008). Articles>Document Design>Software>Content Management



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