Message from the Sponsors — March 30, 2010 Dr. Explain, Madcap Software, & more
Last month I started a regular message from the sponsors post as a way to give my advertisers more visibility. Here's the second sponsor post. Lots of good information in here.
Dr.Explain 4.0 Enables Rapid Creation of Software Help Systems to Speed up Software Rollouts
Indigo Byte Systems, LLC today introduces Dr.Explain 4.0, the most significant release of its innovative help authoring software, with over 10 new features and enhancements, including improved interface usability, customizable page layout, visual styles, on-demand screenshot annotating mode, search and index functionality in HTML manuals, PDF output and more. New Dr.Explain makes it even easier and faster to document software, ensuring faster software rollouts. The new version is available as a free trial from http://www.drexplain.com.
Unique to Dr.Explain is its innovative approach to making help documentation much quicker than it is with other tools. The program parses a live application and automatically produces screenshots of its windows along with a sequence of explanatory callouts for each control. The process is accurate and fully automated, so the user only has to enter a description for each callout. The project can be exported to HTML, CHM Help, RTF or PDF format.
Dr.Explain 4.0 includes but is not limited to the following key new features:
- Improved usability: The newest version introduces a wide work area, sleek icons and slim toolbars, contributing to increased user satisfaction.
- Customizable look: In the new version, the user can rearrange objects and change layout page content remarkably easily in the editor.
- On-demand screenshot annotating mode: The workspace area is grabbed only when required. The floating panels will help the user to organize the workspace layout as needed.
- Search and Index in HTML manuals: This feature doesn't require scripting capabilities on a server and may be used even on websites with free hosting.
- PDF output: Now the user can export help documentation to Adobe PDF with support for national characters, images, hyperlinks, bookmarks and table of contents.
A downloadable trial version is available at http://www.drexplain.com/download/
The program comes with "Compatible with Windows 7" logo.
More information is available at http://www.drexplain.com
P.S.: A free serial number for Dr.Explain 4.0 is provided to magazine editors, internet columnists, bloggers and webmasters who intend to write a review of the program on their website, blog or column. Email [email protected] for details.
SnagIt | Capture your digital lifestyle
Capture anything you see on the screen. Edit and combine those captures. Share them via your favorite applications. Organize and find them again later. The more you use SnagIt, the more ways you'll find to use it!
Want to get a laugh? Add a speech balloon to that photo of your cat and fire it off in an instant message.
Need to make an impression at work? Capture that sales chart and point out important details with a sleek-looking arrow. SnagIt can turn a simple screenshot into a powerful information graphic.
SnagIt is versatile, yet surprisingly simple! As one SnagIt user said, "It's as basic or as powerful as you need it to be.”
Maybe that's why millions of people worldwide love using SnagIt, in a million different ways.
Learn more and download a free 30-day trial of Snagit at: www.techsmith.com/snagit.asp.
Still interested in DITA? Next up in Scriptorium's ongoing series of free webcasts on DITA-related tools and technologies is an XMetaL 6 overview on April 21, 2010. Presented by Simon Bate, this webcast demonstrates the DITA features in the XMetaL 6 editor. For more information and to register, visit our website: http://www.scriptorium.com/events.
Meet us at the Summit. Scriptorium's Sarah O'Keefe and Matthew Arnold will be presenting/exhibiting at the STC Summit in Dallas on May 2–5. Sarah will be presenting on “Managing in an XML Environment.” Stop by our booth, #113, on Sunday between 6:45 PM and 8:00 PM, Monday between 10:30 AM and 6:15 PM, or Tuesday between 9:00 AM and 5:30 PM. If you'd like to schedule some time with Sarah or Matt, email [email protected] and we'll set something up.
Scriptorium Publishing provides expert advice on how to develop, deploy, and manage content. If you are facing a difficult publishing challenge, we want to hear from you. Contact us at [email protected] or 919-481-2701 x105.
MadCap Flare the Authoring Tool of Choice for Carnegie Mellon University
MadCap Software was pleased to announce its latest case study highlighting how Carnegie Mellon University uses MadCap Flare to teach students documentation best practices. “In the past, students mocked up their online Help in HTML. It was extremely labor-intensive, and it didnʼt give them the practical experience of using an authoring tool,” said Tracey DePellegrin Connelly. “With Flare, the difference is night and day between what they were doing before and what they are now able to learn. Itʼs been an extremely valuable tool for giving our students real-world experience.”
“It can be hard to grasp the separation of content and formatting within a structured authoring environment if you are used to working with word processing and authoring packages where the formatting is applied directly to the content,” said Ms. Ciroli. “Flare did a nice job of bridging that gap. Our students liked that they didnʼt have to worry about formatting, as well as how easy it was to set up the online Help navigation using the indexing and glossary features in Flare. Whether they were technically savvy or not, all the students could get the output they needed.”
Read more about Flare and Carnegie Mellon University.
Flare 6 Allows Users to Work Smarter, More Efﬁciently When Reusing Content, Publishing to Multiple Outputs
File tagging and the WebHelp mobile output are among top of the list of favorite new features in Flare 6. "Flare's new features and user interface improvements have been helping me work smarter, faster, and with better results. I'm especially pleased to see File Tags and the new WebHelp Mobile target,” says Nita Beck.
Flareʼs single-sourcing allows users to save time when creating the mobile output. They simply create a new output target in an existing Flare project and content can be immediately available to users on the go. Neil Perlin of Hyper/Word Services says, “This feature takes what was a separate process requiring different tools and skills and starts to make it just one more Flare output. I expect that more developers will try outputting to mobile devices now that it's easier and more convenient to do so with Flare.”
Learn more about Flare's new features. For an independent review of MadCap Flare 6, read Paul Pehrsonʼs blog.
About Tom Johnson
I'm a technical writer / API doc specialist based in the Seattle area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation if you're looking for more info about that. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me. Finally, note that the opinions I express on my blog are my own points of view, not that of my employer.