Balancing action with narration: Creating product overviews and getting started tutorials to satisfy both try-first and read-first learning modes

This is an abstract for a presentation that I'm thinking about creating. In a nutshell, the presentation focuses on finding the right balance between action-oriented task writing and big picture narrative product overviews — both of which seem to be opposing but complementary content types in technical communication. I'm floating this presentation draft here to gather feedback and refine the direction a bit more. Read more »

An in-depth look at MadCap Flare 2021’s New Markdown Import Feature

MadCap Flare’s first major new release of 2021 includes, among other new features, the ability to import Markdown files. There are several workflows where this Markdown import could be useful, most notably in scenarios where tech writers support multiple engineering teams that author READMEs and other how-to content in code repos. Read more »

Finding a focus

I've been trying to think of a good focus for upcoming presentations and my blog lately, but I'm unsure about topics. I've focused on many topics in the past: trends, API documentation, docs-as-code tools, and before this, other areas such as blogging, podcasting, quick reference guides, value arguments, visuals, user-centered docs, and more. Ideally, I'd like to turn over a new leaf with some engaging topic that I've never explored before, but I'm not sure what that would be. Read more »

Updated API Getting Started tutorial

I updated the Getting Started tutorial section in my API course. I included a new section about the philosophic foundations of getting started tutorials, as I believe that this mindset toward action-oriented learning in API documentation is key. I also realized that the Run in Postman buttons are now forked collections in a web interface rather than static code that is downloaded to a local Postman client. So much changes in API tools that from one year to the next, any tutorial is sure to become outdated. Read more »

Technical writing course Q&A -- 'Become a Technical Writer', with Bobby Kennedy

Technical writing courses are popular ways for people transitioning into technical writing careers to build their skills, become familiar with the technical writing profession, and ultimately transition into jobs as technical writers. I had a chance to chat with Bobby Kennedy, a professional technical writer based in New York, who recently created a technical writing course called Become a Technical Writer. Read more »