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.
Why I decided not to become a grasshopper expert, or, Not deciding your focus based on where readers are clicking
Although site analytics can be insightful in identifying popular topics, sometimes your most visited content isn't your most beloved content. It doesn't mean you have to switch your interests to align with your visitors' interests over your own.
A hypothesis on how to exert more influence and visibility inside the corporation
Can the same principles for visibility and influence online lead to visibility and influence inside corporate walls?
Upcoming API workshops in Raleigh (April 6) and Denver (May 5)
I'm giving a couple of API workshops soon. The first workshop is April 6, 2019, in Raleigh, North Carolina, offered through STC Carolina. The second workshop is in Denver on May 5, as a pre-conference workshop before the STC Summit.
Recognizing Research Realities Across Technical Communication -- guest post by Kirk St. Amant
In this guest post, Kirk St. Amant argues that despite having common ground through similar research interests, 5 barriers tend to separate tech comm practitioners from academics. These barriers involve Scope, Scale, Speed, Strategy, and Situatedness.
WTD Episode 21: On career growth, leadership, and mentoring in Tech Writing
In episode 21, Becky Todd from Atlassian joins us to talk about career growth, leadership, and mentoring. How do you move up to the next level at your company? Does upleveling require a management track, or there other ways to increase your leadership and influence? We also chat about mistakes we've made, what we've learned, ways to increase our influence and visibility both inside and outside corporate walls, why we sometimes back away from persuasion efforts, the balance between autonomy and micromanagement, mentoring strategies and opportunities, and other career-related topics within technical communication. We also look at the Season of Docs as an opportunity for getting involved in open source projects
Master's in technical writing at Mercer — FAQ
Considering earning a master's in technical writing to move up the career ladder? If so, check out Mercer's online master's in Technical Communication Management program, which is positioned within Mercer's School of Engineering and focuses on teaching you management skills to influence significant organizational change. There are many details to consider when choosing a master's in technical writing program, so I reached out to Pam Brewer, who directs the program at Mercer, with some questions.
Results from survey about engineers who write documentation
I recently conducted a survey with engineers who write documentation to see why they are coming to my API documentation site — whether certain trends are pushing them to write more documentation, or whether the technology landscape is becoming more complex, or some other reason. Results from the survey are provided below. The most interesting result is that engineers who write docs almost unanimously agree that they prefer to treat docs like code.
My documentation takeaways from the Boeing disaster -- two essential doc questions to ask for any project
Although I'm not familiar with FAA-regulated flight manuals, when I read about the Boeing disaster and the lack of information around the controversial MCAS feature, my two takeaways from a documentation perspective are to ask these questions: How does this product differ from other products? and What does the customer need to know? These are challenging questions in any documentation project.
Biking at Alviso County Park (Santa Clara)
A brief account of biking in Alviso County park's pathways.