A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Accessing Information through Natural Language Interface   (members only)

The natural language interface (NLI) is a module that allows the user to access the information stored in the underlying database by typing requests expressed in a natural language.

Kovacs, Laszlo and Sieber, Tanja. tekom (2005). Articles>Usability


Adjusting to Scrum   (peer-reviewed)

Scrum, the new development methodology in the Agile development family, is fast gaining acceptance in software development. But how can writers, who have little or no experience in any of the incremental development models, adjust to this methodology? And, how does the Documentation Development Life Cycle (DDLC) change in Scrum?

Bidkar, Prasanna. tekom (2011). Articles>Project Management>Agile>Documentation


Better Structuring and Designing   (members only)

There is something to be learnt from the way a good architect works: before beginning with the planning, he takes a look at the site and the future inhabitants of the building, and asks them for their requirements and desires. He takes the general conditions imposed by building regulations and the budget into consideration, and designs the construction in such a way that the inhabitants can use it optimally. And this is exactly how we as information architects should also go about our business.

Oehmig, Peter. tekom (2006). Articles>Information Design


Building a Case for Global E-learning

As globalization of business continues at a rapid pace, employees are increasingly being asked to absorb and learn from materials that are not written in their first language. These materials range from key corporate policies and procedures that all employees must follow to specific training on products, health, safety or compliance. Very often this is training content created in English at the American parent company and distributed to regional and global offices, where in many cases employees are expected to have a “working knowledgeâ€Ω of English as a second or third language. But there are serious problems with this approach that stem directly from poor reading comprehension and also from learners’ misperceptions of the level of language facility they have actually achieved.

McBrien, Kieran. tekom (2005). Articles>Documentation>Localization


Caution--Warning Ahead!   (members only)

Safety and warning notices form the most important elements of user information wherever safety and [product liability are concerned. A carefully thought out and systematic process is required in developing safety-relevant information, in order to increase the completeness and comprehensibility of product safety. This will also disarm any suspicion of gross negligence in internal documentation in case of missing safety notices and it will ensure traceability.

Schmeling, Roland. tekom (2006). Articles>Documentation>Risk Communication


The Direct Road   (members only)

Firms that export to the USA are faced with the challenge of having to deliver accompanying TD that meets the requirements of that country. This is true not only in legal or safety-relevant terms, but also in terms of the language used. Production and translation of multi-lingual documentation are part of an overall process. Even while creating the source text, the technical writer must keep in mind the translation into the target language. Unambiguous rendering, consistency in the terminology, wording that is appropriate for the target group and reader-friendliness are some of the highest criteria which would justify the use of a controlled language.

Féneyrol, Christian. tekom (2005). (German) Articles>Language>Localization>Controlled Vocabulary


DITA--A Standard for TD?   (members only)

The abbreviation DITA stands for 'Darwin Information Typing Architecture', an information architecture based on XML. DITA is not a mere reinvention of the wheel: rather, it sets the standards for known structuring requirements. The most striking feature of this architecture is the clear orientation towards a technology for structuring, which has already proved its worth in online documentation.

Closs, Sissi. tekom (2006). Articles>Information Design>XML>DITA


Enabling Mass Customization for your Technical Communication: a Paradigm Shift   (members only)

Today technical communication departments are facing the challenge of producing a continuously increasing volume of technical documentation. Indeed, as companies accelerate the pace of new product launches in response to changing markets and competitive forces, so must the technical authors produce more, and faster, the accompanying documentation for these new products. We also recognize that information users are not a uniform group; they have different product knowledge, different backgrounds and may have different reasons for using a product. As such, they need specific, personalized documentation rather than a standard one-size-fits-all document.

Rombauts, Yves. tekom (2005). Articles>Information Design


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


Free Terminology Management: The Better Alternative?   (members only)

In projects like 'Wikipedia', collaborative work also necessitates a common language. This was one of the reasons why a 'Wiktionary' or a 'Wikiwoerterbuch' came into being. Thus, the open source community has already set out to develop ideas for the management of terminology and its implementation.

Herwartz, Rachel. tekom (2006). Articles>Writing>Glossary>Controlled Vocabulary


From a Wasteland of Words to Corporate Language   (members only)

In recent years, the subject of terminology and its significance to technical documentation has gained importance. Training and education are paying more and more attention to this area, and an increasing number of software companies are offering sophisticated solutions to give companies a technological tool for handling terms efficiently.

Schaefer, Gregor. tekom (2006). Articles>Language>Business Communication


From English to Cyrillic to Chinese

The increasing number of languages that companies need to translate into requires careful planning when preparing translation projects. Thus, choosing appropriate tools, finding qualified project teams, and applying suitable concepts to avoid additional work become crucial tasks for the project manager. If all these issues are considered beforehand, a perfect balance can be achieved within the magic triangle of time, cost and quality.

Kreitmeier, Peter. tekom (2006). Articles>Documentation>Localization


From Text to Module

For some time now, machines have been constructed and built using modules. i.e. encapsulated and reusable standard components. In manuals, the modular approach has only slowly been gaining acceptance. With XML and a wide variety of editing tools, the technical prerequisites for the change are by now only a matter of the individual requirements – a right solution can be found for virtually every purpose. But for technical communicators the question arises what needs to be considered when texting under these changed conditions. This language tip is intended to be a basic aspect: how can one determine whether a text component is suited as a module?

Nickl, Markus. tekom (2005). Articles>Language>Technical Writing


I Know What You Mean!    (members only)

According to experts, the Semantic Web, an enhancement of the conventional web, is paving the way for new functionalities in future, web-based applications. The possible scenarios that we could face are reminiscent of fiction and cinema, where you just need to think of the question for which we are seeking answers. An invisible assistant would then perform the search.

Sieber, Tanja and Bartz, Wolfgang. tekom (2006). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>Semantic


The Impact of Globalization on User Interface Design

Did you ever try to use a machine that has been programmed in a foreign language? Or perhaps, even with an unfamiliar character set? Suddenly everything seems to be different although only the language has changed. This is the situation faced by many foreign users that work with German machines.

Zühlke, Detlef, Alexander Bödcher and Kersitn Röse. Tekom (2006). Articles>User Interface>Globalization>Localization


Interactive and Animated Pictures: Mere Visual Stimulation or Better Clarity?   (members only)

Digitalisation has revolutionised the creation and editing of graphics, and ushered in new forms of technical communication on the visual plane. In online documentation, interactive illustrations and animations play an important role, but creating them is definitely time consuming and expensive. But is all the effort really worthwhile? Are animated and interactive images automatically also self-explanatory? Or what are their didactic benefits?

Ballstaedt, Steffen-Peter. tekom (2006). Articles>Information Design


Managing Content in Regulated Industries   (members only)

Global organizations, particularly those in regulated industries, have to juggle a wide range of competing priorities. They must have thorough documentation, clear internal and external communication, audience-appropriate marketing materials and many types of “fine print” carefully crafted. That means that many different departments, sometimes spread across geography, must be involved in all layers of the business. In a regulated field, multiple touchpoints mean multiple opportunities for triggering a regulatory error.

Giovanis, Kristen. tekom (2006). Articles>Documentation>Localization


Metadata and XML: Improving the Findability of Information    (PDF)

Information about objects on subjects - metadata describes objects. Purposes: Information management and discovery. Metadata enables content to be retreived, tracked, and assembled automatically.

Bogaards, Peter J. Tekom (2004). Presentations>Information Design>Metadata>XML


New Guidelines for Documentation of Plants   (members only)

The DIN committee NA 152-06-01-05 UA, formerly called the NATG-F 1.5, has published a guideline for compiling information from component manuals, in its technical report 146. This report is a supplement to DIN EN 62079 and is meant to ensure that the requirements from the Machine Guidelines 98/37/EG Appendix I Ch. 1.7.4 are practically feasible. Plans are afoot to introduce the technical report at the international level (CEN).

Galbierz, Martin. tekom (2006). Articles>Documentation>Policies and Procedures


The New tekom Guideline for Safety Instructions in Operating Manuals

The EU directive 92/58/EWG of 24th June 1992 clearly defines the notification on occupational Safety and Health Safeguards. In Germany, this has been enforced through the regulations for trade associations BGV A 8 (formerly VBG 125) which regulate indication of occupational safety and health safeguards through prohibition signs, warnings, instructions or signs for action, rescue, fire protection and so on. At present there is no European standard that discusses the topic of 'Drafting Safety Instructions in Operating Manuals' adequately and in detail. Nonetheless, there are several sources but often containing only imprecise or too generalized requirements. Moreover, many judicial verdicts in various individual cases point to the manner of formulations in Safety Instructions.

Gabriel, Carl-Heinz. tekom (2004). Articles>Documentation>Policies and Procedures>Standards


Occupational Health and Safety Laws Today

The state and the government, as we understand, are responsible for the safety security of the citizens. The state and its organs understand this as a mandate and this also means realising the lofty goal of safety and health for all in every walk of life.

Honnecker, Matthias. tekom (2006). Articles>Documentation>Legal>Government


A Peep into the Toolbox

What is the current scenario for applications and systems in the area of technical communication? Who is using which editor? And how many companies are using a Content-Management-System? To answer these and other questions, tekom conducted a survey from July to November 2006, which was conceived as an online questionnaire and made available via the tekom web site. 547 participants took part in the survey.

Straub, Daniela and Wolfgang Ziegler. tekom (2007). Articles>Content Management>TC>Surveys


Practical Tips for Language: The Ladder to the Top

We the Technical Editors are spared of one worry which our colleagues from journalism generally have: In our work we need not pay 'so much' attention to 'as much as possible' large number of editions. But the situation is different, if we--as is always the case--are to also look after the company's web presence. What is an edition in the context of printing is here the so-called 'page ranking' among the major search engines like Google and Yahoo. Many imagine that a listing in the hits lists depends on chance or, that it is mainly due to some technical means. That is all wrong: by employing some clever textual work the chances of web pages being found can be significantly increased. In reality, even elaborate techniques can lower the chances of hits: Frames, JavaScript and Flash Intros often derail the search engines. And the results may look all right, but regrettably the page will no longer be found.

Nickl, Markus. tekom (2006). Articles>Language>Editing>Business Communication


Requirements of Content Management Systems: Definition According to Need

In all companies, the requirements of an editorial system are worked out individually from the analysis of existing functioning and the definition of editorial and publication processes required in the future. The first important criteria for analysis are change frequencies and degree of reuse of the published information. The description of the information types as well as translation sequences constitute another starting point for the definition of a modular work process (single-source principle) and publication options (cross-media publishing).

Ziegler, Wolfgang. tekom (2005). Articles>Content Management>Information Design>Workflow


Rescue from the Spate of Modules   (members only)

How many modules can an authoring system take? Or, more importantly, how many can the user stomach? What is the ideal size for a module? These are questions that are commonly encountered while using an authoring system. The finer the granularity of modules in the Content Management System, the greater the number of modules, and greater the administration effort involved in technical writing. Is there any way out of this quandary?

Schlenker, Rainer. tekom (2006). Articles>Information Design



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