TCUK10 – quick guide

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This is an update to a previously published post. Not all of the sessions are scheduled yet, so I’ll update this as and when but, if you are wanting a quick print out of the session to, for example, convince your boss to splash some cash, then hopefully this PDF will do the trick: Technical…

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Remembering the basics

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What do you call your documents? What is the first thing you do when you start writing? What is the last? All these things that you do without thinking about, the basic automation that your brain easily handles, over and over again, these things are, to you, so basic as to be forgettable. You don’t…

Analyse this

Reading time: 2 mins

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…

Technical Documentation Know-how

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A few days ago I received an email about a new website. I’ve seen it mentioned on other blogs but think it’s worth repeating as there is some useful information there. I am contacting you because I have just thought that maybe a post about my new web site on software documentation and user assistance…

Access is good

Reading time: 1 min

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…

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Dumping the manual

Reading time: 2 mins

I honestly can’t remember the last time I picked up a user manual, an honest-to-god paper book of technical documentation. Actually that’s a lie, it was just last week when i was tidying up. I picked up several user manuals and moved them to a lower shelf on my bookcase. It’s also been a long…

Paper based

Reading time: 2 mins

I am a paper junkie. I’m a whore for a nice caliper of paper, not too thick as to be card, not too thin as to be unsubstantial. I love the feel of paper, the rustle and rigidity that give way with a subtle movement. I love the sound of ink being laid down, the…

Author-it Hints, Tips, & Useful Info

Reading time: 3 mins

The following are not in any particular order. Some are tips gleaned from experience, some are links to the knowledge being shared by others, all have helped us get us from a standing start to a full content conversion and production delivery in under 4 months. We started with ~2450 topics of imported content, and…

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Planning your deliverables

Reading time: 2 mins

I don’t like making presumptions, something that I learned early on in my technical writing career, but I am going to presume that anyone who reads this knows that they should be planning what content they produce before they start writing. You do, right? A basic information plan will include knowledge about the audience, the…

Why we are moving to single source

Reading time: 2 mins

I’ve waffled on about single source and our plans for long enough so, as we are finally starting the process itself, I thought I’d capture some information as we go along. However, it’s probably good to set the scene, so I’ll cover that stuff first. Over time you’ll be able to see all the posts…

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My Firefox 3

Reading time: 3 mins

So I’ve been living with Firefox 3 for a week or so now and I’ve pretty much got it under control. Here’s what my current browser window looks like. As you can see it’s fairly customised, mainly to cut down on space and makes use of some rather nifty extensions.

The Big Picture

Reading time: 2 mins

Deliverables are dead. Long live multi-format, anytime, anywhere delivery of information! The more I think about it, the more I am beginning to see that creating content, writing and styling and planning, for “print” is no longer valid. Quick caveat: Know your audience and the requirements. Many places mandate printed documentation in one format or…

Recently Read

Reading time: 2 mins

As a wise man once said, time flies like a banana. I may be paraphrasing (badly at that, sorry Groucho) so let’s skip on quickly. Brevity is the name of the game today for whilst I’m delighted that the company is allowing the development team to swan off for an afternoon of beer and ten-pin…

How to make a cup of tea

Reading time: 5 mins

Further to my Too Simple post, and in response to the comment from Annie about the state of software manuals, I thought I’d try and give a bit of insight into the basic workings of my profession. Yes, that’s right I DO have a day job. I am a technical author and I write software…

Zamzar

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Zamzar free online file conversion Took a while to convert a small-ish .PDF to a large-ish Word .DOC but it’s a hugely impressive list of supported formats. One to bookmark in the ‘occasionally handy’ folder methinks.