Every day technical communication teams are being asked to do something new. Given the rate of change that is apparent in the marketplace, and the expanding array of new devices and venues that will need to be supported, this trend will only accelerate. One question that comes up is how do teams explore the new publishing pathways so that they can determine what changes they will need to their overall content creation and publishing process. Intelligent Content thought leader Joe Gollner recentlly guided us through some proven steps in exploring new information products and refining content processes in our recorded webinar, “Content Scenarios for exploring new Information Products.”
You may review the slides below. This blog provides a brief overview of the insights share in this dynamic webinar.
This blog touches on highlights of Joe Gollner’s excellent co-Webinar with Adobe TCS on “Getting Real”, creating documentation for challenging environments where backlit screens and relatively short battery life for an iPad may not work well. There are a variety of areas, ranging from military to remote construction, where eReaders with opaque, grayscale screens can work better.
A conclave of L10n thought leaders at the recent annual GALA gathering in Monte Carlo
Flying home from the GALA Conference (#galaconf) in Monte Carlo has brought some new insights and trends to the surface for me. (It’s a long “flight” due to 5 hour delay leaving Nice which snow-balled into 30 hours of end-to-end travel time, but who’s complaining?) This blog was written over the Atlantic on Thursday and uploaded into a blog via GoGo on DELTA (somewhere over the MidWest) on Friday.
We are all so accustomed to instant access to critical information and the ability to broadcast our opinions at any moment in time that 4.5 hours in a French airport with no WiFi and anemic mobile phone access can lead to an ephiphany. In short, 2 months away from the localization industry, followed by attendance at this most significant conference let me see a critical convergence of roles, workflows and tools that are affecting localization and traditional tech pubs publishing. The blog below shares some of my post conference impressions, that should prove relevant whether you are involved in localization/translation or not.
Our roles are changing, whether we like it or not
Jack Molisani and Scott Abel recently published an excellent and “right on” analysis in STC INTERCOMM (Tech Comm 2.0: Reinventing Our Relevance in the 2000s) of what it will take to “survive” in the shrinking “tech comm writer” market. Our natural instinct is to hang on to what we are used to and what we think we have been good at for years. But times are changing at such a pace that we can’t even consider hanging on to the old. Most of us don’t need to “reinvent” ourselves; we merely need to catalog all of the new skills and duties we’ve acquired over the past decade and “rebrand” our value for the benefit of management as well as customers. This is true in both localization and what we used to call technical communications. Continue reading…
Much has been written or presented on the process of converting content for mobile devices and tablets. But little has been written about how we must change the way we write for delivery to a device that displays about one ninth of web or PDF content viewed on a single laptop screen.
This blog touches on a few of the points I shared in my Intelligent Content Conference 2012 (#ICC12) presentation, “Resizing Content for the Small Screen: Considerations for Single-Source Authoring for Tablet and Mobile Delivery.” Subsequent blogs and probably an enhanced conference presentation on this topic will follow. Since only two of my 34 PPT slides had been seen before, I was curious how the early riser audience would react. The participants did connect with the message; in fact a few of them missed breakfast staying for an overtime discussion.
From this …
…. In just 5,000 years
Ironically, some of the earliest known business “documents” were composed and read on “tablets.” Some 5,000 years later, we have come full circle to tablets again, only this time they are digitally dynamic, capable of receiving up-to-the-minute correct data. Due to their small size and portability, Sumerian clay tablets held concise, to the point messages in Cuneiform. Now that we are delivering content that was written for another medium to our new, iPhone-sized “tablets”, we need to reexamine the length and relevance of what we intend to deliver.
If I were wearing my Adobe Evangelist hat and wanted to make a shameless sales pitch, I would write about the ease of swapping templates in FrameMaker and Tech Comm Suite to shape content to resemble a small screen while you write. Or comment about single-source publishing from FrameMaker via RoboHelp to a variety of ePub formats. But that’s not my mission today.
Remembering what you hear can “measure” what would effectively display on an iPhone
Colleges provide different tracks for Broadcast Journalism vs. Print Journalism. Why? Because TV or Radio news content must be substantially shorter than what is written for newspapers or magazines. (Substitute your favorite digital equivalents for the media mentioned in the previous sentence.) Our brains can process and remember more points when visible text is present. When we process information that we hear with no supporting visible text, we can handle about one thought per sentence. And sentences must be shorter; no longer than normal speed speech with one breath. (Please don’t consider my verbal speech/speed and words per breath as a good model to follow!) Continue reading…
Since its inception, FrameMaker has provided a realistic page or output display during authoring or editing. This has occasionally led to criticism of the product for not being a “real” or “pure” DITA/XML solution. Most early DITA tools, and DITA Open Toolkit provide an approximation of output during editing. Tagged views of content are more common outside of FrameMaker.
This blog covers two kinds of “seeing is believing.” On one level, there is the issue of seeing the amount of content you have created, and on another level, there is the issue of being able to see the entire process required to achieve a DITA solution before you choose your authoring tools.
Shrinking platform displays give an advantage to FrameMaker’s realistic display
There are arguments for advantages to both the FrameMaker “what you see is what you get” and the traditional DITA view/tag “what you see is sort of what you’ll get” approaches. Ironically, the FrameMaker model is becoming more attractive due to significant changes in our content consumer expectations. Most tech comm authors have been used to multiple deliverables for years, e.g. to PDF and HTML/Web. Delivery platforms for content are rapidly increasing due to explosive proliferation of tablet computers and hi-rez smart phone devices. There is now a great variety in the sizes of screens that will frame and reshape the content we create.
Many of us have been used to two sizes and shapes for final output display, (a) standard letter paper size (PDF) and (b) approximate computer screen size for HTML (usually presumed to be horizontal laptop screen orientation.) Obviously, the landscape for content display has shrunk considerably; at the same time that content has become more nimble, being capable of displaying embedded rich media like 3D graphics and video screen capture. Obviously, we need to reexamine how we create and “preview” content before it is delivered in multiple ways. Note: I will be speaking more specifically on this topic in a presentation I am giving at Intelligent Content Conference this week, “Resizing content for the small screen.” Continue reading…