A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


22 found.

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Content Strategy and Change Resistance

In our experience, making the case for content strategy is actually much easier with executives than with content creators.

O'Keefe, Sarah. Scriptorium (2013). Articles>Content Management>Content Strategy>Collaboration


Creating PDF files from DITA Content   (PDF)

The DITA OpenToolkit (DITA OT) provides a way to produce multiple outputs, including Portable Document Format (PDF) files; however, the technology for creating PDF files is limited, and modifying the formatting is challenging. This paper explains the alternatives and trade-offs for each method and helps demystify the decision process.

Loring, Sheila and David James Kelly. Scriptorium (2009). Articles>Information Design>DITA>Adobe Acrobat


Review: FrameMaker 9 Review   (PDF)

FrameMaker users are buzzing about FrameMaker 9. With CMYK support, CMS integration, DITA 1.1, and PDF commenting, this version is full of new functionality but is unfortunately also buggy and inconsistent. This review covers the most important new features of FrameMaker 9.

Loring, Sheila. Scriptorium (2009). Articles>Reviews>Document Design>Adobe FrameMaker


Friend or Foe? Web 2.0 in Technical Communication   (PDF)

The rise of Web 2.0 technology provides a platform for user-generated content. Publishing is no longer restricted to a few technical writers—any user can now contribute information. But the information coming from users tends to be highly specific, whereas technical documentation is comprehensive but less specific. The two types of information can coexist and improve the overall user experience. User-generated content also offers an opportunity for technical writers to participate as “curators”—by evaluating and organizing the information provided by end users.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Scriptorium (2008). Articles>Web Design>Technical Writing>Social Networking


How Do You Manage Your RSS Feeds?

Some feeds are only skim worthy, while others I read word-for-word. Still, 90 feeds is really more than I can realistically keep up with. The question of which feeds to unsubscribe from plagues me. How long does one subscribe to a feed before deciding it's not worthwhile?

Loring, Sheila. Scriptorium (2009). Articles>Information Design>XML>RSS


Making the Most of Your Conversion to XML, Part 1

Your publishing workflow has been the same for years, but new technology, different customer requirements, and company growth are making you realize you might need a change. Your print-based processes won’t always be sustainable, and XML is looking like a possibility for the future. There’s just one problem: you have thousands of pages of legacy content that you’ll need to convert, and it’s not exactly XML-friendly.

Kinsey, Gretyl. Scriptorium (2014). Articles>Information Design>XML


Making the Most of Your Conversion to XML, Part 2

You’ve made the transition to an XML workflow for publishing your technical content, converted all of your legacy content, and started authoring in the new system, as discussed in part 1 of this post. Although you now have a much better outlook on sustainability, you’re still facing a problem: your content creators are having trouble with the idea of separating content from formatting.

Kinsey, Gretyl. Scriptorium (2014). Articles>Information Design>XML


Mechanics and Usage

A style guide is essential for a successful project. Many of our clients have their own style guidelines, which we follow to ensure that our work matches what they produce in-house. However, some clients do not have internal style guides. We have developed our own style guide to ensure our work on their projects is consistent. Putting the style guide on the web eliminates distribution problems and ensures that we always use the latest version.

Scriptorium (2001). Reference>Style Guides


A Mercenary View of STC

The mission of STC is to “advance the arts and sciences of technical communication.” How does this help you, the member? I have been a freelancer/business owner for the vast majority of my career (so far). Let me say a few things about STC’s value proposition for mercenaries like me.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Scriptorium (2009). Articles>TC>Professionalism>STC



A blog about publishing and technical communications.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Scriptorium. Resources>TC>Documentation>Blogs


Predictions for Technical Communication

It’s time for my (apparently biennial) predictions post. For those of you keeping score at home, you can see the last round of predictions here. Executive summary: no clear leader for DITA editing, reuse analyzers, Web 2.0 integration, global business, Flash. In retrospect, I didn’t exactly stick my neck out on any of those. Let’s see if I can do better this year.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Scriptorium (2010). Articles>TC>Planning


Publishing DITA Without the DITA Open Toolkit: A Trend or a Temporary Detour?

I'm starting to wonder whether the adoption rate of DITA and the DITA Open Toolkit is going to diverge. Widespread adoption of DITA leads to a a sort of herd effect with safety in numbers. Not so for the Open Toolkit.

Scriptorium (2008). Articles>Information Design>XML>DITA


A Strident Defense of Mediocre Formatting

Formatting automation removes cost from the process of creating and delivering content. For technical documents that change often and are perhaps delivered in multiple languages, it removes a lot of cost. Essentially, we can produce documents inexpensively and give more people access to them as a direct result of lower cost, or we can climb on our typographic high horse and whine about word spacing. I’m with the noisome fanboys.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Scriptorium (2009). (Afrikaans) Articles>Document Design>Typography>Minimalism


Structured Authoring and XML   (PDF)

Implementing structured authoring with XML allows organizations to create better content. The addition of hierarchy and metadata to content improves reuse and content management. These benefits, however, must be weighed against the time and money required to implement a structured authoring approach. The business case is compelling for larger writing organizations; they will be the first to adopt structured authoring. Over time, improvements in available tools will reduce the cost of implementing structured authoring and make it affordable for smaller organizations.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Scriptorium (2002). Design>Publishing>Information Design>XML


Technology Matters

An excellent writer with more experience is better than an excellent writer with less experience. An average writer with great tools knowledge is better than an average writer with average tools knowledge. That said, I think there’s a point of diminishing returns.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Scriptorium (2010). Articles>Technology>Writing


Unstructured Documents in Structured FrameMaker

A few days ago, there was a thread on the Framers mailing list regarding working in the structured FrameMaker environment. Someone commented that editing unstructured documents in the structured interface does not affect the unstructured documents. I found this to be untrue recently.

Scriptorium (2008). Articles>Document Design>Information Design>Adobe FrameMaker


What I've Learned as a Member of the Society for Technical Communication (STC)

In all, my experiences volunteering in the STC Carolina chapter have been very rewarding. I recommend dipping your toes in the water and trying something out. Email or call someone on the administrative council and ask what needs to be done. Start small. You might be surprised at the return on investment.

Loring, Sheila. Scriptorium (2009). Articles>Advice>Community Building>STC


Would You Use Just a Gardening Trowel to Plant a Tree?

If your department has implemented reuse and single-sourcing techniques that eliminate inconsistencies, your end users are going to have a lot more faith in the validity of the content you provide.

Pringle, Alan S. Scriptorium (2009). Articles>Documentation>Assessment>Help


Would You Use Just a Gardening Trowel to Plant a Tree?

A structured authoring process that removes the burden of formatting content from the authoring process gives tech writers more time to focus on providing quality content to the end user. Yep, the end user doesn’t give a fig that the PDF or HTML file they are reading was generated from DITA-based content, but because the tech writers creating that content focused on just writing instead of writing, formatting, and converting the content, the information is probably better written and more useful.

Pringle, Alan S. and Sarah S. O'Keefe. Scriptorium (2009). Articles>Documentation>Software>Technical Writing


Writers Can Make Good Publishers

If you’re considering publishing your own work, realize that such an effort does require more than writing ability. However, you can make the experience run more smoothly and greatly diminish the financial risk by harnessing the power of print-on-demand publishing houses, experimenting with the easier paths to e-book publication, and using social media to market your book.

Pringle, Alan S. Scriptorium (2011). Articles>Publishing>Online


XML Implementation Flow Chart   (PDF)

A PDF flowchart of questions one should answer when choosing XML implementation plans.

Scriptorium (2009). Resources>Information Design>XML>Planning

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