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Messages from Sponsors -- August 2012

by Tom Johnson on Aug 22, 2012
categories: advertiser messages technical-writing

Every so often I ask my site sponsors to send me a few paragraphs of a message they want to broadcast to readers. This message from the sponsors post contains a ton of information about a variety of products, programs, new releases, upcoming webinars, conferences, recorded presentations, tools, and other information for the technical communication community.

From Southern Polytechnic State University

(message from Laura Palmer and Carol Barnum)

Where will Tech Com be in 5 Years? And where will you be?

We know that some of you would rather be writing, or you wouldn't be following Tom's blog.

But we see the future of Tech Com as much more than writing.  And we've reshaped our grad programs to address the future now.

This past year we've been engaged in lively and thought-provoking discussions about our Information Design & Communication graduate program here at Southern Polytechnic. From our ongoing exchanges, we've been considering what you, as a potential applicant to our M.S. degree or grad certificates, need when it comes to making an investment in your future.

What You'll Want

You'll want a graduate education that looks beyond today—that's a given. The profession is in a period of flux and careers are already changing in ways no one expected. Tomorrow's careers in information design and communication will require individuals with critical and strategic communication competencies, research skills, and a grounding in the principles of effective design and user experience. These same individuals will also need a broad business perspective and the ability to make decisions based on both theory and practice.

We've assessed what you'll need in these areas to take your tech com career in new and dynamic directions. As a result, we've repositioned our program to support the goals of tech communicators who want to think and act strategically, to communicate a vision of the future, to embrace change, and to collaborate with strategic partners at all levels of an organization.

Meeting Your Needs

To prepare you to take your career to the next level, we took a long, hard look at what defines this level, and we know it's leadership abilities. Courses in project management, business analysis, and user research, including mobile user experience, are now a vital part of our grad curriculum in Information Design & Communication.

We've also reshaped our current courses to embrace what we see as a necessary strategic component. We see the graduates of our programs being well positioned to make communication decisions that have a measurable impact.

By no means are we abandoning the essential skills of writing and design; rather, we're supplementing them with competencies that can move your career from the cubicle to the C-level suite.

Our new focus conveys, we believe, what an individual with a graduate credential should want—a challenging career that melds management and business practices with strategic communication design. We've taken the vigor and call-to-action stance of MBA program language—strategy, acceleration, collaboration, innovation—and used it to define our position as a graduate program.

New Ideas, New Offerings

You'll see several essential changes to our MS degree in Information Design & Communication.  In addition to new course offerings in Business Analysis, Content Strategy, and Information Architecture, we now require all M.S. students to take a research methods course and a project management course.

And in our graduate certificates, in addition to our Technical Communication certificate, we have refocused our advanced certificates and added a new one so that our lineup of advanced certificates now includes:

  • Visual Communication
  • Content Strategy
  • Instructional Design
  • Communication Management
  • User Experience (new!)

The Technical Communication certificate offers students the opportunity to take graduate level coursework without taking the GRE, and then decide, on completion of six courses, if they want to apply to go on in the M.S. degree program.

The advanced certificates target those of you holding a graduate degree in technical communication (or related field) who are ready to get up to speed in a specialty area.

We're working on a redesign of our IDC website to reflect these changes.  So, if you're thinking of fine tuning your skills and staying ahead of the curve, check out  Then come back later this fall for the new website design.  The deadline for spring semester applications is November 1.

News from 3Rabbitz

3Rabbitz Book is 100% Browser-based Enterprise Authoring Software. The 3Rabbitz Book team announces the immediate availability of 3Rabbitz Book 1.5.6.

3Rabbitz Book 1.5.6 Release

3Rabbitz Book 1.5.5 Release

For more information on 3Rabbitz Book, see

Download a free trial at A free license for an open source project or non-profit organization is available on request.


PlagTracker is a free online plagiarism detection service, designed from the ground up to meet the needs of students and teaching staff. Utilising a unique search algorithm and huge database of academic papers and online sources, PlagTracker's intuitive interface provides you with the simplest solution to prevent plagiarism. Plagtracker was established in July 2011 by a group of passionate people, with the main goal to create an alternative to similar paid services.

Premium subscription is available for those users who require improved features of the site, such as increased scanning speed, uploading documents in various formats, and unlimited text length to check.

To check your text content for free, simply go to the upload page, insert or upload your text, and get a detailed plagiarism report after the scan is completed.

Recent updates of Plagtracker's plagiarism checker include:

  • Improved web search algorithm;
  • Added support and interface localization for SpanishGermanFrench and Romanian languages;
  • Premium account features extended.

Learn more at

News from Adobe

Adobe recently simultaneously launched significant updates to their tech comm products: FrameMaker 11, RoboHelp 10 and Tech Comm Suite 4. Major features include output to HTML5 multiscreen, two new modes for authoring/editing XML/DITA files and increased control over rich media graphics. The following list of resources will help you quickly come up to speed on these powerful new releases:

  • FrameMaker 11 and FrameMaker Publishing Server 11 are here: Comprehensive blog by Sr. Product Manager Kapil Verma, with many links to videos, interactive PDF and resources —
  • Webinar Recording: “What's new in FrameMaker 11”:
    (Note: free account credentials required to fill in log-in page)
  • “Adobe RoboHelp 10 is here!!” Feature rich blog by Sr. Product Manager, Ankur Jain, with links to Reviewer's Guide and Version comparison —
  • Webinar Recording: “What's new in RoboHelp 10” —
    (Note: free account credentials required to fill in log-in page)
  • Webinar Recording: “What's new in Tech Comm Suite 4” —
    (Note: can be located on this list; specific URL not yet available)
  • AdobeTV shows for newly launched products:

Adobe Webinars

Key Trends in Software User Assistance (Part Two) - Emerging Paradigms and Opportunities | Aug 27, 10:00-11:00 AM (Pacific Time)

Adobe is proud to present the second part of this two part webinar series (watch recording of Part 1 at on Trends in Software User Assistance (UA). In this series UA expert Joe Welinske discusses the current and future issues associated with software user assistance. This webinar will focus on the emerging paradigms in information technology and user assistance. These include comprehensive support strategies, integration with Agile methodologies, emerging opportunities in technical writing, editing simulations and videocasts, supporting mobile devices, and search engine optimization. These trends address some of the key questions currently being asked by technical communicators and content strategists who work with help content.

Register at

Multiscreen HTML5 for multi-device publishing with Adobe RoboHelp 10 | Aug 30, 10:00-11:00 AM (Pacific Time)

With Multiscreen HTML5 Single Source Layouts and the new Screen Layout Editor, you can deliver content to almost any device and screen size. From iPhones to Android smartphones like Galaxy, tablets like iPad  and Kindle Fire to desktop computers, Adobe RoboHelp 10 has you covered! Support for modern HTML5 output and CSS3 means authors are no longer limited to the old-fashioned and restrictive frame-based "tri-pane" window. Convenient common screen sizes for many devices are ready-to-use. Each screen size can be mapped to a different screen layout so that the appearance of the content is right for the device.

Register at

Maintaining XSLT code as a structured FrameMaker document | Sept 5, 10:00-11:00 AM (Pacific Time)

This webinar describes a structured FrameMaker application for editing XSLT. While the document window appears to show actual XSLT code, the structure of the edited document is an easily-understood variation of that used in the final XML output. Once a document is complete, the user saves it as XML using an application that uses XSLT itself to change from the editing structure into actual XSLT code. Furthermore, existing XSLT code can be brought into this environment by opening it using an application that converts XSLT to the editing structure.

Register at

Upcoming Webinars from MadCap Software

Incorporating DIV Tags into Your WebHelp Design

Aug 28, 10:00-11:00 am (Pacific)

Are you confused about how to use DIV tags in MadCap Flare? Are you interested in learning more about how they can make your WebHelp look amazing? In this webinar, Certified Advanced Flare Developer and Trainer Laura Johnson will explain how you can use DIV tags to position items on each page, create complex borders through nested DIVs, and create text boxes in your WebHelp projects.

Presenter: Laura Johnson, Certified Advanced Flare Developer and Trainer

Register Now >> 

Recently Recorded Webinars

The Lean User Guide – Applying Lean Principles in User Assistance

Recorded Aug 15, 10:00-11:00 am (Pacific)

If we want to move away from a hand-crafted approach to developing content and towards a more engineering-like approach, what can we learn from the latest techniques being applied in manufacturing? Today, many manufacturers use Lean manufacturing principles, and its principles underpin Agile programming. In this presentation we'll explore whether applying a Lean approach to technical publications could (a) lead to better deliverables and a more efficient system for producing User Assistance and (b) better position Technical Publications in the context of an Agile environment.

Presenter: Ellis Pratt, Sales and Marketing Director, Cherryleaf

View Recording

MadCamp: A 4-Day Intensive Training Course 

September 25-28, 2012 | La Jolla, CA 

Led by Mike Hamilton, VP of Product Evangelism, and Neal Pozner, Product Engineer, the 4-day intensive training seminar covers a wide range of topics including single-source publishing and formatting with cascading style sheets (CSS). MadCamp is ideal for both new and intermediate users who want to advance their skills with a robust course curriculum.


Additional Training Opportunities >>

Existing FrameMaker® and RoboHelp® Users: Upgrade Now to Flare and Save 

For a limited time, users of FrameMaker® and RoboHelp®, or any legacy tool, can upgrade to Flare and save BIG. To find out how, contact me for details.

Offer valid for any version of FrameMaker® and RoboHelp®. Certain restrictions apply.

From the Content Wrangler

The Content Wrangler is an internationally recognized content strategy firm specializing in helping organizations efficiently deliver the right content, to the right people, at the right time, in the right format and language, on the device of their customers' choosing. The Content Wrangler provides a variety of consulting services, as well as content creation, training, and event planning.

Upcoming events include "Adaptive Content Modeling and Structured Authoring", a two-day intensive workshop with Ann Rockley, September 19-20 in Sunnyvale, CA; Content Strategy Workshop Portland, a two-day series of workshops taught by 20 of the world best content strategists, October 9-10, co-located with the LavaCon Conference on Digital Media Content Strategies, which takes place October 7-9; and two mini-conferences on Content Strategy at the Localization World conference in Seattle, October 17-19 and at the world's largest technical communication event, the tcworld Conference and tekom Trade Fair, October 23-25 in Wiesbaden, Germany.

tcworld Conference and tekom Trade Fair
The tcworld Conference and tekom Trade Fair is by far the world's largest -- and most innovative -- technical communication event. Over 4,000 technical communication professionals will gather this October 23-25 in Wiesbaden, Germany for three days of presentations, workshops, and discussions, topped off by huge products and services designed for technical authors, editors, illustrators, designers, translators, and content managers.

Localization World
Localization World is the world's leading conference and exhibition focusing on language and global business. This year our North American event takes place October 17-19, 2012 in Seattle, WA. The theme -- "Reaching the Mobile World" -- is designed to provide attendees with the know-how they'll need to overcome the challenges associated with providing content to a global, mobile audience.

With tracks on global business, the global web, mobility, advanced localization management, translation automation and a special focus area on mobile content strategy led by Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler, this year's event is expected to be our biggest and best ever. Check out the conference program and register today!

Join Etteplan | Tedopres for a free webinar on controlled authoring

Simplified Technical English – how to save cost and achieve content quality for technical documentation

Date: September 11th, 2012
Time: 4 PM CEST / 9 AM EST
Duration: 1 hour
Register here

Simplified Technical English is a method of writing that makes technical English easy to understand. The adaptation of a controlled language stimulates the (global) acceptance of technical documentation as it improves readability and translatability, and prevents misunderstandings and misinterpretations.

Join Berry Braster from Etteplan | Tedopres for an interactive webinar. During this webinar, Berry will explain the benefits of controlled authoring using case studies, and show how overall cost, time to market, and content volume will be reduced and how you can save considerably on translations: up to 40% per language!

We will also review how a good STE software implementation can dramatically increase the benefits of working with Simplified Technical English (STE). We will demonstrate how HyperSTE offers:

  • Cost savings on translation and localization (up to 30%)
  • Quality assurance and quality measurement for content
  • Reduced time to market
  • More efficient authors and editors
  • Improved safety
  • Improved customer service
  • Reduced time for maintenance and operation
  • Facilitates DITA, S1000D, SCORM, CMS and XML

About the host
Content quality advocate Berry Braster has managed the implementation of controlled language standards, including the training of writers and engineers, checker software and how to manage terminology effectively, with fortune 500 companies as well as SME's over the past 13 years.

About Etteplan | Tedopres
Established in 1974 and with offices in Europe, North America and Asia, Etteplan | Tedopres offers a full range of technical documentation services, including translations, content management and controlled language solutions for quality assurance and considerable cost savings. Etteplan | Tedopres HyperSTE checker software is the industry's leading solution for controlled language authoring thanks to its flexibility, ease of use, and cost saving benefits. Since 2012 a fully owned subsidiary of Etteplan Oyj.

Learn more about Tedopres and simplified english at

From StiltSoft for Confluence

StiltSoft is Atlassian Expert known by their add-ons for Confluence which can make work of technical writers easier.

One of such add-ons is Talk which adds asked-for feature of inline commenting to Confluence. Using Talk technical writers can ask questions addressed to the rest of the team and arise attention to unclear parts of the text. Your colleagues also can start discussions with propositions of documentation improvements.

Typical workflow of Talk using contains such steps:
1. Create a new discussion being in edit mode of the page. Just with two clicks you can add discussion placeholder to any point of the page.
2. Everyone being in view mode can jump into the discussion and add their reply.
3. Each watcher of the page will receive e-mail notification about new discussions and replies.
4. When the discussion ends you can just click “Resolve” and it will be removed from the page.

You can see video with demonstration of add-on features:

Or you can can see it in action in our Confluence Sandbox right now ( )

More information and free 30 day evaluation license can be found on StiltSoft site ( )

About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the tech comm, be sure to subscribe to email updates below. 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.