API doc survey: Authoring tools preferred by API documentation writers

API documentation survey 1.0 I need your responses to my API Documentation Survey 1.1 API doc survey: The most popular type of APIs that technical writers document 1.2 API doc survey: The most common programming languages tech writers know ...

Learning how developers think, and other API doc insights: Podcast with Joe Malin

Listen here: In this podcast, I talk with Joe Malin about a variety of topics within API documentation, including how developers think, best practices, and more. Joe is a former software engineer who turned to technical writing many years ago. He has worked at a variety of companies in API documentation roles, including 7 years at Google. Here are a few of the topics we cover in the podcast: Why Joe turned from software...

API doc survey: The most common programming languages tech writers know

API documentation survey 1.0 I need your responses to my API Documentation Survey 1.1 API doc survey: The most popular type of APIs that technical writers document 1.2 → API doc survey: The most common programming languages tech writers know ...

API doc survey: The most popular type of APIs that technical writers document

API documentation survey 1.0 I need your responses to my API Documentation Survey 1.1 → API doc survey: The most popular type of APIs that technical writers document 1.2 API doc survey: The most common programming languages tech writers know ...

Getting a job in API documentation: Podcast with Andrew Davis

Listen here: Getting a job in API documentation can be tricky. What programming skills do you need to know? How in-depth does your technical knowledge need to be? What kind of authoring tools and methods are relevant for jobs in API documentation? In this podcast, I talk with Andrew Davis, a former technical writer who turned to recruiting for technical writers. Andrew specializes in helping companies find technical writ...

I need your responses to my API Documentation Survey

API documentation survey 1.0 → I need your responses to my API Documentation Survey 1.1 API doc survey: The most popular type of APIs that technical writers document 1.2 API doc survey: The most common programming languages tech writers know ...

Authoring tools for startups -- Guest post by Vinish Garg

The following is a guest post by Vinish Garg, an information architect with a background in technical writing who frequently works with startups.  Vinish Garg shares his thoughts on authoring tools for startups A discussion on authoring tools invariably leaves the participants with at least one common opinion–they want to see something better in whatever tool they are using. I recall a Wishlist post that Tom wrote a few years back; I am...

Podcast download stats kind of mind-blowing

I measure download links for podcasts through Podtrac. I haven't been doing as many podcasts as I used to do. But I checked my podcast stats the other day and was kind of shocked. Typical download stats for podcasts in the past averaged about 700 downloads per episode. For example, take a look at this podcast report and you'll see that in 2011, when podcasting was supposedly popular, average downloads were about 600-700 per episode. Sinc...

DITA: Glossary terms and acronyms

One of my colleagues was asking about best practices with glossary terms and acronyms in DITA today, and I realized that this is a pretty confusing aspect of DITA. I spent a good chunk of time trying to sort it out and outline best practices. I added a topic to my DITA QRG called Acronyms and glossary terms. Overall, I think glossaries are underused in help material. We become numb to our own jargon, which makes help material much more di...

Free from limitations and imaginary lines

A few weeks ago I was riding out near Stevens Creek park when I came across a bicycle painted white. In front of it were two gravestones, giving memory to two cyclists who were killed by a motorist at that spot. One of the gravestones said, Rethink what is possible. The other gravestone said: Free from limitations and imaginary lines. As I rode away, I thought about the second gravestone. I wondered if it was original and later...

Convert Markdown Content to DITA in 20 seconds

A while ago I posted some thoughts on converting Markdown to DITA. I refined this conversion process using the Multimarkdown script and OxygenXML. Here's a demo: (There's no audio to this 20 second video -- it just loops over and over.) I added more details on how to configure this in my DITA QRG: Author in Markdown, Publish with DITA. Why would you want to convert from Markdown to DITA? Mainly, you would use...

The Upcoming TC Camp Unconference and my morning API workshop

On Saturday, January 24, 2015, there will be a TC Camp unconference held at Mission College in Santa Clara, California. The unconference is a one-day event that draws about 150–200 technical writers in the area to participate in an informal, attendee-led day of events. During the morning of the unconference, there are several workshops available (for a small fee). This year Marta Rauch will teach a workshop on mobile, Maxwell Hoffman will...

Upcoming API Workshop with Sarah Maddox

Sarah Maddox will be teaching a full-day technical writing API workshop at the Google campus in Mountain View, California, on January 23, 2015. You can read all the details here. This workshop is free and includes a catered lunch. It will be held on Friday, January 23, from 9am to 4pm. There is no cost to the workshop, but there is a capacity limit of 110 people for the room. If you want to attend, sign up now so you have a spot. If you ...

Tech comm on a map: See all the tech comm groups, meetups, conferences, events, and consultants on a Google map

Sarah Maddox recently recently launched a project called Tech Comm on a Map. It lists all the tech comm groups, meetups, conferences, events, and consultants on a Google map. You can filter by the type of content you want to see. Check it out here: What's nifty about this map is how you feed data into it. There's a Google spreadsheet that has certain data columns, including longitude and latitude. The map automatically pulls in data from...

Dynamic content filtering with OxygenXML's webhelp output

One of the little tricks I’ve implemented with OxygenXML is dynamic content filtering. Our product supports four different programming languages – Java, PHP, C++, and .NET. Rather than producing 4 separate outputs, I produce just one output and provide a content selector option in the header. Here’s a topic in my DITA QRG that contains a link to a demo of the content filter. When you select an option in the upper-right...