Information Development World and the Customer Experience -- A Podcast with Scott Abel and Val Swisher

Listen here: In this podcast, I talk with Scott Abel and Val Swisher, organizers for the Information Development World conference, about the technical writer's role in the customer experience. The customer experience is a major focus of the Information Development World conference. The Information Development World conference will be held in San Jose, California on October 22-24, 2014. Here are some of the topics we t...

Introduction to API documentation: Interview with Scot Marvin

Listen here: In this podcast, I talk with Scot Marvin, an API technical writer based in Oregon, about some introductory topics with API documentation. Topics covered in the podcast include the following: The prevalence of APIs 15 years ago compared to today The definition of an API What technical writers are responsible to document with APIs Where technical writers get information about the requests, parameters, and ot...

Started a new job

I started a new job last Monday at a company called The 41st Parameter in San Jose. I'm pretty excited about it. 41st's main product helps prevent online fraud with transactions; another product helps with identity resolution for advertising technologies. I'll be creating developer documentation for products that include C++, Java, .NET, and REST. I'll also probably be using Confluence. I'm one of 3 writers, but 2 are based on Arizona, w...

Lessons learned as a novice API technical writer -- Interview with Mary Linderman (podcast)

Listen here: In this podcast, I talk with Mary Linderman, a technical writer in Chicago who has been doing API documentation for the past couple of years, about her experiences in the API documentation space. Mary recently wrote an article called "Lessons learned from a novice API writer" for an upcoming issue of STC Intercom that I'm editing, and I wanted to record a podcast with her to capture some of her thoughts. In...

The future of tech comm is developer doc

I attended an STC presentation the other week by Andrew Davis (one of the most helpful recruiters in Silicon Valley) on Ageism and Today's Technical Content Developer. Ageism is simply bias against the capabilities of older people in the workplace, and it's pretty rampant in Silicon Valley. Most programmers are twenty somethings who live on Red Bull and free company food, who roll into at work around 10am and leave at around 7pm in the ev...

Creating code samples for API/SDK documentation (webinar recording, slides, and audio)

Listen here: Yesterday I gave a presentation to the soap! conference group on creating code samples. Here's the video recording: (Note that the audio in the link above is crisper than the audio in the video.) Here are the slides: Here's a link to the PowerPoint file: zip file | pptx file. To learn more about soap!, see soapconf.com and sign up for the soap! newsletter. Add a review for the "I'd Rather B...

How to embed looping videos on your web page

Videos are great, but sometimes all you want to do is show a brief clip that demonstrates a certain action. For example, take a look at this article on how to make play-dough. Each step has an embedded, looping video that shows the action you need to take. There aren't any player controls on the videos, and the videos only start when you mouse over them. Embedding looping videos is easy to do with with HTML5 video tags. See this post on...

My Intercom article on gamification and user engagement

I was pleased to have my article, Gamification and user engagement in e-learning and documentation, included in the Bleeding Edge issue of the April 2014 STC Intercom magazine. Here's a link to the article: If you don't have access to the Intercom, you can read the same article here, since I posted it on my site a few months earlier.

Recording of my STC Sacramento presentation -- Why users can't find answers in help material

Listen here: A few months ago I gave a presentation to the STC Sacramento chapter on findability of help content. Here's a link to the slides and other material: PowerPoint slides zip file | pptx | slideshare Sample of one-page help Sample long topic Game worksheet Why users can't find answers in help material -- STC Sacrament presentation from Tom Johnson This presentation was similar to other presentati...

What does DITA-structured help look like?

My DITA journey 1.0 My DITA journey begins 1.1 DITA: Folder hierarchy, conref, mapref, and more 1.2 DITA: Why DITA, metadata, working in code and author views, and relationship tables 1.3 DITA hierarchical links, r...

Complex tools versus simple tools

My DITA journey 1.0 My DITA journey begins 1.1 DITA: Folder hierarchy, conref, mapref, and more 1.2 DITA: Why DITA, metadata, working in code and author views, and relationship tables 1.3 DITA hierarchical links, r...

Upcoming webinar: Creating code samples for API/SDK documentation

May 30 update: Here's the recording of the presentation. I'm giving a webinar on May 29 on the topic of creating code samples. The webinar is sponsored by the soap conference, which is a new conference in Poland that I featured on my blog a few weeks ago. Here are the details of the webinar: Creating code samples for API/SDK documentation Date: May 29, 2014 Time: 8am PST Cost: Free Location: Online (details below) One challenging yet rew...

DITA: Nested subheadings and the concept element

My DITA journey 1.0 My DITA journey begins 1.1 DITA: Folder hierarchy, conref, mapref, and more 1.2 DITA: Why DITA, metadata, working in code and author views, and relationship tables 1.3 DITA hierarchical links, r...

DITA: Limitations with the chunk="to-content" attribute in relationship tables

My DITA journey 1.0 My DITA journey begins 1.1 DITA: Folder hierarchy, conref, mapref, and more 1.2 DITA: Why DITA, metadata, working in code and author views, and relationship tables 1.3 DITA hierarchical links, r...

DITA hierarchical links, related links, short descriptions, and one-folder organization

My DITA journey 1.0 My DITA journey begins 1.1 DITA: Folder hierarchy, conref, mapref, and more 1.2 DITA: Why DITA, metadata, working in code and author views, and relationship tables 1.3 → DITA hierarchical links, related link...