Where are we going?

As the end of the year starts to draw close, inevitably thoughts turn to 2011 and the challenges that may lie ahead. From a product point of view we are starting to get a feel of how the year will shape up, and so we can start to look at how our team negotiates the (still forming) landscape. It already looks likely that our aim (alongside keeping pace with product development) will be to get to a point where we can correctly focus our efforts around structure, and ad-hoc document requessts. Given that we have access to outcome codes from the Support team, several of which are specifically around product documentation being either wrong, missing, or not read at all, …

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Hacking Author-it Webhelp

Finding the right solution for a problem isn’t always easy but sometimes, if you are very lucky, the solution will fall straight into your lap. Such was the case with our switch to Author-it even though we didn’t fully realise it at the time. I’ve covered our reasons for switching from FrameMaker to Author-it elsewhere, and once we had converted our content we started to look at how we could get the most from the other output formats available. We already had ideas on how we could use the provided HTML based publishing formats to provide a better solution to the problem of finding information, and we were planning on generate HTML versions of the entire documentation set to be …

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Analyse this

Let me tell you a story. In it our hero (me) fights valiantly against two Javascript dragons called Webhelp and Google Analytics. It’s a bloody battle and at the end, when all the fighting is done, well … you’ll have to read on and find out. Some background first. We have a developer community website which hosts downloads of our software and all the documentation in PDF format. To make it easier for people to find information in the product documentation, we also host a Webhelp version of each and every document in one master Webhelp system so you can search across the entire thing. It works really well. To track how the other areas of the website are used, …

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Numbers game

Better documentation lowers support calls, is a widely held assumption and one I’m hoping to prove in the coming months. With our new knowledge centre in place, and Google Analytics tracking how many people are visiting it, I’ll soon have stats for my side of the fence. Early numbers (from the past two weeks) show that more people are looking at the Documentation area of our website than are looking at the Support area, but then the knowledge centre (part of the Documentation area) is new so that’s only to be expected and I’m really not expecting to get a true picture of how things are going until late January next year. Fingers crossed. With thanks to Rachel Potts for …

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Access is good

Yesterday we launched a new version of our developer community website. It doesn’t have many ‘community’ features as yet but that’s all to come. One thing it does now have is an HTML version of all of our product documentation, in an easily searchable format. It’s no coincidence that it looks very much like the Author-it Knowledge Center as it too was built using Author-it (alas I can’t show you our website as it requires a login). This new format of the product documentation is largely to move us away from PDF only documentation. At present we still have a set of PDFs but they aren’t particularly usable. We ran a few quiet trials of the knowledge centre format and …

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My iPhone Apps – update

It’s been a while since I mentioned my lovely iPhone and the applications I have installed on it, and as I’m sure there will be a fresh splurge of iPhone mania come June (there is a new version of the phone software coming out which addresses a lot of the shortcomings of the current version), I thought I’d post this update now. I’m not going to cover all of the screens though, just the new applications.

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Damned lies

A boring post about website statistics follows. Feel free to scroll on down to the next post which may, or may not be more entertaining. What? You want a LINK to the next post? You lazy bugger… Last month (or was it the month before?) I asked you for recommendations for a new stats package for this site. I had used Extreme Tracker and SiteMeter for a while and had always got inconsistent results, timeouts and generally have been unimpressed. Now, whilst I’ll happily admit to being a bit of a stats whore, long gone are the days when I care how many hits I get, it’s much more fun seeing where you all come from. That’s not to say …

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