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How to avoid inefficiencies even with context switching
When you switch focus from one project to another with higher priority, this context switching can lead to a lot of inefficiencies. However, if you take time to review or work on the de-prioritized projects even just a little each day, then according to the Forgetting Curve, you'll be more likely to retain the needed context. When you do fully switch back to the project, you won't have to start over.
Reader question: Am I specializing too much by limiting my focus to docs only?
A reader asks whether he should be focusing not only on writing good developer docs but also building out doc portals and marketing material — in other words, being more of a 'full-stack' technical writer. This question taps into the dilemma between being a specialist or generalist.
Crash course in API documentation -- a one-hour video
If you want a condensed, one-hour version of what I cover in my API documentation workshop, check out this crash-course video.
Reader question: Is it a red flag in the hiring process if they tell you that you'll be the only tech writer, with complete control over everything?
A reader wonders whether having complete control as the lone writer in a company is a red flag he should watch out for, based on his previous experience. I agree that it is.
Reader question: Recommended setup for docs-as-code tooling?
A reader asks for my recommended docs-as-code tooling setup. I said probably Hugo with Docsy and Netlify, or maybe a solution like or
Upcoming conference: The Tech Comm Roundup, by The Content Wrangler
Scott Abel has put together a new conference called Technical Documentation Roundup, held May 21-23, 2019, in Menlo Park, California. If you're interested in attending the conference, there's currently an opportunity to get two tickets for the price of one.
Season of Docs -- opportunities for both tech writers and open-source organizations to benefit from each other
When I was at the STC Summit last week, I was chatting with Sarah Maddox about Season of Docs. This is a program where technical writers looking to gain experience in the field can work with an open-source organization for a three-month timeframe on specific projects, building up both experience and a portfolio of sample docs. In turn, open-source organizations can benefit from having dedicated, enthusiastic technical writers creating much-needed documentation.
Technical writer position for Amazon Appstore team in Seattle or Irvine
We have an open position on our team for a technical writer in Seattle or Irvine. This position is more of a mid-level rather than a senior-level, and the person will be documenting details around the app submission process with the Amazon Appstore. Contact me if you're interested.
My slide links and presentation descriptions at the 2019 STC Summit
If you're attending the 2019 STC Summit in Denver and you want to attend my presentations, download my slides, or get other info, I've added details below.
The essence of technical writing, and my five stages of review for documentation
The essence of technical writing is in making a complex product work from beginning to end. In my doc process, I push content through five stages of review, but this first one, which includes my own review, is the most important.
First look at Document360 -- an authoring/publishing tool that satisfies both KB and tech pubs needs
Document360 is a new authoring and publishing tool that spans the needs of both support teams creating KB content and technical writers creating documentation. Document360 provides a good balance of features that will satisfy both audiences. Launched in July 2017, Document360 is already growing rapidly with a robust customer base. In this post, I'll show screenshots related to many of these features and talk about the need to bridge the gap between KB and tech doc content.
New video recordings of Raleigh API documentation workshop now available
A couple of weeks ago, I gave a full-day API documentation workshop in Raleigh. I recorded the workshop and have made the video and audio content available in my API documentation course here: Video recordings of API doc workshops. There are more than 6 hours of video available for you to watch for free. I also describing my recording process here.
How I record audio and video in workshops — all the technical details, equipment, software, post-production techniques, and publishing methods
In case you're curious about my process for recording workshops and producing the videos, such as in Video recordings of API doc workshops, I've detailed the process here. In short, I capture the screen video and audio separately and then combine them in post-production. There's room for improvement in my approach — mainly to capture audience voices and picture in picture, but this tends to require more work than it's worth.
Flare adds micro content feature, taking steps toward content management for AI scenarios
MadCap Software's 2019 release of Flare provides an interesting feature for creating and managing micro content. Support for micro content takes steps toward content management for AI scenarios, giving you better tools to build content for chatbots, search results pages, and more.
When you're in the business of complexification
In this post, I share a few thoughts after doing my taxes. Some businesses thrive on complexity and would have you believe there's no simple approach apart from purchasing their software.