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Help authoring tools (HATs) and single-sourcing (Trends to follow or forget)
This post is part of a series that explores tech comm trends that I've either followed or forgotten, and why. The overall goal is to better understand the reasons that drive trend adoption or abandonment in my personal career. This post focuses on help authoring tools and single-sourcing.
Intro to the series: Trends to follow or forget
In this series on trends to follow or forget, I look at about 15 different trends that I've explored in my career as a technical writer. I divided up the content into individual articles to facilitate easier navigation and browsing.
[Podcast] Become a technical writer: conversation with Bobby Kennedy about the technical writing courses he offers
I recently chatted with Bobby Kennedy to learn more about the technical writing courses he's offering at becometechnicalwriter.com. In this podcast, he shares a bit about why he started offering technical writing courses, some of the activities and strategies in the courses, and the outcomes so far.
My multimodal commuting strategies
My multimodal commuting strategy involves taking a car + train + bike to get from my suburban location to downtown Seattle. In this post, I share some tips and strategies for each of these segments.
Archbee product review -- first look at a new online platform for writing and managing documentation
Archbee.io is a new online documentation platform with a lightweight, fast editor that makes it easy to write and manage documentation, knowledge bases, or other company information. Archbee has some unique features that make it worth exploring — especially if you create web API or GraphQL documentation. Their editor is one that you can easily fall in love with and is the centerpiece of the product. The whole authoring platform feels extremely responsive, modern, and web-friendly. If you're shopping around for documentation tools, I definitely recommend checking out Archbee.
Part 6: The newsletter as the social content of corporations
Despite the failure of these doc reports and meeting notes formats, I hardly fault myself. I was simply following the same conventions that nearly any group does inside the corporation — stuffing all updates into a long email and blasting it out. Different spaces have different communication mediums, and inside the corporation, this was the expected form and delivery.
MEGAComm recording: How to increase awareness of tech comm inside corporate walls
I recently gave a presentation called How to increase awareness of tech comm inside corporate walls at the MEGAComm 2022 conference, which is a conference for tech comm professionals in Israel. The recording, slides, and description of my presentation are available below.
Updated Metrics and Measurement section in API course to remove scoring aspect
I recently updated the Metrics and measurement section of my API course to remove the section on scoring the various API documentation criteria. I also consolidated the first- and second-level checklists into a single checklist.
Results of the survey about fizzled trends: Every trend is still with us
Recently I posted a short survey trying to identify trends that faded or fizzled. About 300 people took the survey. As I was creating the survey, I thought there would be some clear trends that failed. To my surprise, I learned that anything that once surfaced as a documentation trend is still "hanging in there" as a common practice in the field. About the only thing you can say is that tech comm has become more fragmented, plural, diverse, and multifaceted than ever. There are superseded technologies, but apparently no non-trends.
Survey about documentation trends that fizzled (one-minute survey)
In preparation for a presentation on trends that fizzled or faded, I launched this short survey to get some help in identifying fizzled trends. The survey is still open (so feel free to take it), but I'm not longer actively monitoring the results. The survey is here. The survey has you rank the trends using sliders.
Webinar recording of 'Using MadCap Flare to Generate API Documentation'
'Using MadCap Flare to Generate API Documentation' provides an excellent introduction to API documentation, along with an example implementation in Flare. This webinar, hosted by MadCap Software, was presented by Athena Adiksson and Jana Cromer of VAS. The webinar focuses on the basics of API documentation content, not necessarily on OpenAPI specifications or integration. VAS provides a farm management API. You can view the recording here. (Note that MadCap Software is one of the sponsors of my site.)
Part 5: More specifics about finding a focus
In the previous post, I debated about the type of content that engages an audience versus the type of content engages the writer. I said the thinking/writing process is probably more valuable than the subject, but also that the subject should be something you, the writer, should be naturally drawn to because you'll be most productive being in that space. At the same time, if you want to engage a particular audience, you need to find topics that both you and the audience resonate with, which might be challenging. In this section, I'll get a little more down-to-earth about my audience and focus.
Part 4: Creating engaging content: A balance of interests
In the previous post, I explained some web fundamentals, such as having a website, learning SEO, capturing subscribers to your newsletter, and so on. However, given that documentation reports and meeting notes failed to engage my readers, I wondered about the key ingredient to influence: engaging content. What types of content would readers find engaging? This turns out to be a complex question with no easy answer other than to focus on what engages you and hope that someone else has a mutual interest. The problem is that those with a mutual interest are likely outside the target business audience.
Part 3: Five basics for building an audience on the web
In the previous post, I explained how email fails as a communication channel in the workplace, and how solely relying on email-based content can cause you to miss out on my analytics and other common web techniques. In this post, I'll look at a few aspects related to content production on the web. Although these techniques all seem basic, hardly any of them are followed in the workplace.
Part 2: Initial attempts and failures with workplace content
In my previous post, I explained that anyone can create content and broadcast it on the web, gathering up an audience and building a reputation of expertise. I wondered if these techniques could be implemented in the workplace. In my initial attempt to create content in the workplace, I focused on two efforts: (1) creating documentation reports and (2) sharing meeting notes. The efforts sort of failed because I neglected some web fundamentals.