DITA: Why DITA, metadata, working in code and author views, and 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, related links, short ...

DITA: Folder hierarchy, conref, mapref, and more

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 links, short ...

My DITA journey begins

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 links, short ...

The need for robust tech comm authoring tools

Neal Kaplan recently posted about the search for a perfectly adequate authoring tool, which got me thinking about the tools I use. At the time I joined my current company, I had to change my help authoring tools quite a bit. At my previous company, I used Mediawiki and Madcap Flare. Both tools worked pretty well. At my present company, we publish on Drupal, which is a web-based CMS similar to WordPress but more robust. All the content liv...

Strategies for using links with DITA

One of the strategies that always seems to cause me dilemmas with DITA is how to best handle linking. Mark Baker has an in-depth essay on linking, where he explores many of the issues associated with links. I would point you to the post, but whether to insert the link here or elsewhere is at the heart of many discussions about linking. So I'll briefly delay inserting the link while exploring the risks of doing so. If I insert the link to ...

STC Chapter provides lavish "all expenses paid" outing to San Diego zoo for members

Note: This was an April Fool's Day post. The West Bay STC chapter recently provided a special expedition to the San Diego zoo for all chapter members who wanted to participate. 67 members signed up for the special zoo tour, which involved several exclusive behind-the-scenes encounters with animals, including but not limited to the famous China panda, Xena the giraffe, and a habitat for Capuchin monkeys. The chapter president, Mark Zimmer...

Now that debts are paid off, plan to travel the world for a year, documenting things

Note: This was an April Fool's Day post. It's official. Starting May 1, 2014 until May 1, 2015, my wife and I are taking the year off to see the world. By see the world, I mean we will travel from country to country (from the U.S. to Europe, Africa, Asia, China, Alaska, and the Polynesian islands -- as we make our way around the earth). The idea for the trip came about in part because we finally paid off all our debts -- student loans, ca...

Dita Von Teese to give keynote at DITA North America 2014 Conference

Note: This was an April Fool's Day post. Dita Von Teese will be giving the keynote to DITA North America, The Center for Information-Development Management (CIDM) recently announced. DITA experts and other attendees are thrilled as they look forward to her keynote. "I kind of always wanted to see her at the conference," said Don Day, father of DITA. "It's just a natural fit." While some were surprised at the selection of a burlesque dance...

New hot coals event to be highlight at Lavacon conference

Note: This was an April Fool's Day post. Long-time participants of Jack Molisani's Lavacon Conference know the conference's location originated in Hawaii at a time when tech writer budgets allowed for travel and vacationing in the islands. In an effort to better brand Lavacon and make it more unique -- especially in light of the competing Information Development World conference taking place during the same month -- Jack has announced tha...

The Content Wrangler Announces New 52 Mini-Conference Model

Note: This was an April Fool's Day post. Scott Abel of The Content Wrangler has already either planned or executed three profitable conferences this year -- Intelligent Content, Intelligent Content Health Sciences, and Information Development World. Scott recently announced a new micro-conference model, patterned after his Language of Content Strategy book, that will include 52 conferences scheduled for 2015. The 52 new conferences added ...

Using metadata to control online navigation through portlets

One of the ideas I've been intrigued by is a portlet model for navigation. I actually have it implemented in my help content (though behind a firewall – sorry), and it's been interesting to see it in action with real content. Note that I'm talking here about help on a website, not in PDF or standalone tripane help. Here's the basic idea. Content can be organized in a lot of different ways. We know this. Unfortunately, the table of content...

Writing skills versus technical skills, or, What I realized in solving a Sudoku puzzle

A reader recently asked, I am a double major in English and IST at The Pennsylvania State university and I am trying to figure out how much technology I will get to learn as a tech writer. I read somewhere else that tech writing is 90% learning technology, 10% writing. What are your thoughts about how deeply you have to understand technology? Let me respond by relating a recent experience. The other day, my third-grader brought home a 6x6...

soap! A new conference for technical writers in Poland

Pawel Kowaluk is a technical writer in Poland who is organizing a new conference called soap!, scheduled for October 1-3, 2014, in Krakow. I asked Pawel, who works as a tool specialist for technical writing at Motorola Solutions Inc., to share a little bit more information about the new soap! conference, including his reasons for organizing one in Poland, and some other details about the tech comm scene. What's the tech comm scene like i...

Two months after leaving the church -- an update

It's been about two months since we left the church, and I wanted to write a blog entry, as this represents a significant milestone in our lives. When I left, I decided to write out my exit narrative, which I published here: Why I left the Mormon Church. When I first wrote this narrative, it appeared that I would be the only one interested in the details. For the first few weeks, almost no one asked me why I left, but this is perhaps more expe...

Do I need to take courses in technical writing? Guest post by Laura Palmer

A reader asks, Is there a technical writing standard certification or course that is renowned as the best and one that touches on the additional skills necessary (technical programming/software etc.) to succeed in the field? Maybe one that addresses the best way to find contracts, projects, and other jobs? I just don't want to pay for classes and find out the one I chose is irrelevant or inferior to another course. I see you note STC's co...