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helpstuff blog - February 2008

helpstuff blog

Helping end-users since 1981

Archives for: February 2008

02/20/08

Permalink 08:37:20 am, Categories: User Assistance, Conferences, Speaking Engagements, 324 words   English (US)

WritersUA starts soon...have you registered?

The 16th Annual WritersUA Conference takes place in Portland, Oregon, and starts on Sunday, March 16, with three supplemental seminars. Joe Welinske, president of WritersUA, has put together another awesome program that covers tools, concepts, Web 2.0, information architecture, and more.

I'm really excited about some of the sessions at this year's conference (of course, I usually am!).

  • Sarah O'Keefe is presenting Friend or Foe? The Role of Web 2.0 in User Assistance. Web 2.0 is everywhere (or if it's not there yet, it's coming). Are you ready?
  • Luke Wroblewski, Senior Principal of Product Ideation & Design at Yahoo! Inc. and founder of LukeW Interface Designs, is presenting Using Visual Hierarchy to Convey Information. I first met Luke last year when we both presented at the Yggdrasil Conference in Norway, and he has great ideas (and the ability to share them well, too). (And I really love the name of the group he works at..."product ideation".)
  • If I wasn't going to Luke's session, I'd go to Guiding Principles of Googley Design with Jon Wiley from Google. I mean, come on...it's Google!
  • The Wikibooks Paradigm for Collaborative Content Creation with Andrew Whitworth sounds interesting, too. Andrew will talk about the Wikibooks project, an offshoot of Wikipedia.
  • Dave Gash is presenting an Introduction to XSL Transforms. I've suddenly started getting more queries on XSLTs, and Dave has a great way of explaining concepts that make it easy for me to understand.

I'm co-presenting two sessions this year. The first is a panel on issues in Help authoring, which should result in an interesting discussion/debate (given that the panel agrees on some things and not on others). The second is a collaborative editing session with Geoff Hart, where I'll be demoing Geoff's techniques in conjunction with many of today's popular HATs.

The agenda also includes hands-on tutorials (usually double sessions), tools, DITA and XML, and more. Visit the conference website for more information.

Hope to see you there!

02/16/08

Permalink 08:07:58 am, Categories: Announcements, Help Authoring Tools, 62 words   English (US)

HATs release updates

It's been another busy week for vendors...

  • Author-it released the latest update to version 5 (build 5.0.11.625).
  • Adobe released RoboHelp 7.0.1.
  • Innovasys released HelpStudio 3.5.0.32.

In other news...

  • ComponentOne has launched the Doc-To-Help 2008 Beta. Register now!
  • In January, MadCap Software released MadCap Analyzer and MadCap Lingo. MadCap Blaze is due out soon...they are now offering demonstration webinars.
  • In December 2007, EC Software released Help & Manual 4.5.

02/01/08

Permalink 07:55:56 am, Categories: Just Stuff :-), 412 words   English (US)

Three reasons why I didn't blog in January

  • Projects. I've been working on several projects over the last month or so. On one, I'm helping get documentation ready by making SME edits and asking questions (little writing, lots of editing). On another, I'm helping a client customize their Author-it outputs for Word and HTML, matching their branding and corporate requirements. On a third, I've been finishing my Author-it 5.0 training materials (and I've given half of a web-based class on it). I still have to finish the definitions for the features on HAT-Matrix.
  • Conference sessions. The conferences themselves may not be for a couple more months, but the materials have to be ready ahead of time. For WritersUA, I'm coordinating a panel on HAT features, and I'm co-presenting with Geoff Hart on editing online Help. I'm also preparing for a panel at STC's Technical Communication Summit (more on that when I can).
  • Time. I'm always amazed at how long it takes me to write a blog entry. After I write it, I read it, re-read it, make sure I'm saying what I mean, edit it, correct typos...and I still miss stuff ;-) I've thought about writing numerous times...and then I realize that I need to make a deadline or take a call or whatever, and I push it off. Of course, I managed to push it off so long that I completely missed blogging anything in January.

One thing that hasn't stopped me is ideas. I have so many I've started lists. Lots of lists. Lots of lists on all different sizes of paper, stored wherever I was at that time. New features in HATs. Choosing a HAT (and why you might consider more than one). Learning curves. XML. XML v. XHTML. DITA. Upcoming conference sessions (mine and others). Upcoming STC chapter meetings where I'll be speaking. Updated HAT Matrix definitions. Accessibility. HTML 5. Standards. Structured authoring. An Event Apart (which is coming to Boston again!). Technical communicator v. technical writer and why it matters. (If you're not on HATT, you missed an awesome post by Chuck Martin that I'll quote. When I blog that topic.) Other blogs I read (since I managed to disable the blogroll when I started my blog and haven't figured out how to turn it back on yet. See the third bullet above ;-)).

So...stay tuned :-) I promise to do better in February. And if you have a preference for one of the above topics, or if there's another topic you're interested in, let me know!

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