Looking forward

2011 looms larger and larger in my view and as we start to plan out our goals and aims for the coming year, so I find myself increasingly struggle to make time to write some blog posts, add to that a couple of weeks of food poisoning, and I’m a little behind with things. That said, it is looking like we are well placed to enter the new year with all the foundations in place to make measureable improvements to the information we offer. We have routes into customer projects via support call outcome codes (if it was an information related issue, I’m contacting the project to see how it arose and what we can do to fix it), stats …

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Back to DITA?

I’ve mentioned DITA a few times on this blog, and my DITA is not the answer post is still attracting attention. As I’ve said, I think the DITA standard is an excellent one for software documentation and the DITA movement is slowly catching up to the hype. I’ve never given up on DITA and had always planned to use it as the basis for the next stage of our content development, and as it happens the switch to a full DITA/CMS based solution may be closer than I had anticipated. We have been considering how best to publish up to date information in keeping with patches and minor releases, and if we can tidy up and publish useful information from …

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Agile Source

If you are working in an Agile environment, and don’t have “single source” in mind when you write then you are slowing yourself down. Working in an Extreme Programming environment (an Agile methodology that our Development Group follows) brings a unique set of challenges. During the early stages of a release, we spend a couple of days thinking about what we will be building, writing out the requirements as customer-focussed stories and breaking down those stories into discrete, small, chunks of work each of which has an estimated time for completion. We don’t have a project plan, and as we work in tight iterations with functionality being released on a regular basis, there is always the chance that the scope …

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Recently Read

Another week (and a bit) has passed. Time is tight for me at the moment, and I’m not posting here as often as I’d like so, for now, here’s a quick roundup of everything that’s zipped past my inbox in the past week: Resources on presentation design … advocates an assertion-evidence design, which serves presentations that have the purpose of informing and persuading audiences about technical content Needless to say, with my first ever conference presentation looming, I’m fairly focussed on both topic relevant stuff and anything that will help make my presentation better. An XML CMS is simple as 1-2-3 Creating an XML-based Content Management System to single-source technical publications is as simple as 1 – 2 – 3. …

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Explosions: keeping ahead of the blast

Is it just me, or are we seeing a notable growth in the tools and voices linked to our profession? Are we, the technical communicators (writers, authors, designers, whatever..) finally clued in to the internet and making the best use of the global space? Are the tools we use starting to touch other areas of our organisations, thus raising our profile, which raises the bar for the tools, which expands the reach, which raises the profile… It’s just me, isn’t it? I’ll happily admit that, a couple of years ago, I was growing apathetic with this industry. I dreamt of working in a zoo, tending to cute fluffy animals and having nary a worry in the world (and likely not …

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X-Pubs Conference

Just about finished at this years conference and, as ever, I feel fired up to get back to the office and get things moving. Overall the main theme of the conference was preparation, preparation, preparation, mainly focussed around gathering requirements before kicking off a project. Nothing special there but if you are considering moving towards a single source environment, there is a LOT of preparatory work you’ll need to consider. I’ll amend this post tomorrow with some notes and thoughts from some of the sessions, but overall I’d highly recommend you visit X-Pubs next year. What follows is largely compiled from scribbled notes and random thoughts, but hopefully may be of interest. I’m not sure if copies of all the …

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