“Getting Real: Electronic Documents for the Field” / eSeminar with a twist Apr 17 @10 AM

Thought leader Joe Gollner, who has extensive experience with taxonomies, DITA, S1000D and all aspects of content management tackles a topic with a new twists in this week’s eSeminar. In “Getting Real: Electronic Documents for the Field” Joe will share several case studies in which up-to-the-minute structured data needs to be accessed in harsh physical environments where iPads and iPhones wash out.

Most of us take for granted that in a few years the majority of our content will be consumed via tablets like iPads or smartphones like iPhones. But we assume that all of us are “on the grid,” not in some remote, desert or arctic region where eReader devices must operate in bright sunlight and go for hours without a battery recharge.

Gollner, who has an impressive military career before he entered the jungles of structured data has several projects that require devices to work in environments like the one described above.

Our eSeminar takes place Tues April 17th at 10 AM Pacific, and you click here to register. Like all of our eSeminars, this one will be recorded and will eventually be accessible from this website.

We hope you can join us for what promises to be a fascinating exploration and discussion.

Part 3 Reasons to upgrade from FM 7.x to FM 10: Track changes and Import PDF comments

Versions of FrameMaker after FrameMaker 7.2 introduced two potent features that could be reason alone to upgrade to FrameMaker 10: (a) track changes and (b) ability to import PDF review comments and annotations “in place” in the source FrameMaker document. Both of the features streamline the edit and review process substantially. Sample documents used for screen captures in this blog prove that FrameMaker 10’s PDF Review cycle (importation of comments) can actually reduce time for that process by 75% compared to FrameMaker 7.2!

Track changes in FrameMaker

The simple tool bar shown below gives you the ability to “turn on” track changes. Icons in the left section of the toolbar enable you to toggle between a preview of the “final” version (after insertions and deletions) or the “original” version.

Continue reading…

Part 2 Reasons to upgrade from FM 7.x to FM 10: Workspaces and a Friendlier UI

One of the most compelling reasons to upgrade to FrameMaker 10 is the redesigned User Interface (UI) which allows “named” workspaces that “remember” placement of menus, etc. Most significantly, nearly any document or menu may be docked, allowed to float, or “dragged” out of the workspace (document window.)

More room to breathe

Once you have upgraded to FrameMaker 10 and become used to the freedom of placing frequently used menus and catalogs on a second monitor, it is quite difficult to “go back” to using FrameMaker 7.2 from 2005, which confined all activity to the “document window.” Floating menus, books or documents in FrameMaker 10 may also be collapsed to a horizontal bar, revealing more document content; this is a real plus when working on a smaller screen, like a laptop or netbook.

The two labeled screen captures below show a stark contrast between the document window of FrameMaker 7.2 and a customized workspace in FrameMaker 10. (Note: click on all graphics for a larger, full display.)

A typical FrameMaker 7.2 document window for unstructured content

A typical FrameMaker 7.2 document window for unstructured content

FrameMaker 10 workspace for the same content shown above. The document and menu to the left are floating outside of the FrameMaker workspace. The black background is the windows desktop.

FrameMaker 10 workspace for the same content shown above. The document and menu to the left are floating outside of the FrameMaker workspace. The black background is the windows desktop.

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Part 1 of blog series on reasons to upgrade from FrameMaker 7.x to FrameMaker 10

A sizeable group of FrameMaker users are still using FrameMaker 7.x (7.0, 7.1 or 7.2). These versions were released in 2002, 2003 and 2005 respectively. Obviously the product has changed substantially in 7 to 10 years. It is a testament to how far ahead of its time version 7 was for those still using it. There are numerous reasons why some users may have postponed upgrading. This is the first in a series of blogs that will touch on some of the more compelling reasons to upgrade from older versions of FrameMaker to version 10, which has been available since 2011.

The following sections touch on just a few of the advantages we will be covering more in depth with this series of blogs.

(1)           Easier user interface

The current release of FrameMaker has a completely redesigned user interface that is more inline with other Adobe products. Although it takes a day or two for some long-time veterans to adjust to the new UI, it is much easier for new, non-FrameMaker users to grasp. This is an important consideration if your company merges with a division that has been using Microsoft Word, or some other product that has a more “familiar” user interface to the general public. Long-term FrameMaker users will find many time-saving improvements in the new UI as well.

My observation has been that with new users, training time and ramp up time on mastering workspaces is substantially shorter than with the old user interface. Watch for a blog that will focus on many aspects of this one benefit.

(2)           Improved catalogs and style management

Beyond the user interface, one major convenience is improved paragraph, character and table catalogs that have improved housekeeping tools. The screen capture below has a red circle that highlights the pre-FrameMaker 9 method of viewing available table styles in a “catalog.” Only a temporary pull-down menu within the Table Designer could reveal the styles to choose from. FrameMaker 10 has a dedicated Table catalog and a number of housekeeping tools for identifying styles in use. More information to come in future blogs.

Table Catalog circled in FrameMaker 7.2

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We are all “Translators”: converging roles & tools in L10n & tech comm surface at GALA Conference

A conclave of L10n thought leaders at the recent annual GALA gathering in Monte Carlo

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…

The view from here: feedback localization and digital publishing from GALA in Monte Carlo

GALA Conference attendees look in all directions for new soluitons
GALA Conference attendees look in all directions for new solutions

As we head into our final day of the GALA conference in Monte Carlo, I thought it would be a good time to share feedback from the many visitors to our booth an impressions from some of the presentations. Regarding the conference itself, it would be challenge to find even minor constructive criticism for improvement. The hotel venue with its comfortable indoor/outdoor traffic patterns from sessions to vendors has been ideal. The general area around the Adobe booth has been the main gathering place, so it has been a perfect opportunity to informally “poll” attendees on their impressions of key trends.

Old problems, frustration with clients on old software

This issue came up a surprising number of times. And not just in context of Adobe software. Many of the translation/localization professionals I spoke with have been frustrated by projects which require software for source file formats that is 2 or 3 releases behind. For a variety of reasons touched on in previous blogs, a translation project can require more time and money when not using the latest tools.

Several people I polled indicated that their clients “want” to upgrade, but are either taking a “wait and see” approach or don’t know how to convince their management how to justify SW upgrade costs. Ironically, excessively out-of-date authoring SW is expensive for the LSP (Language Service Partner or translation agency) as well, because they often have to reconfigure older HW with out-of-date OS (Operating Systems.) It is a lose-lose situation for all involved.

Watch for an upcoming eSeminar or conference topic on this theme from us in the coming months. Continue reading…

Next stop Monte Carlo/GALA: Tech Comm Suite and Localization

This isn’t one of those “don’t you wish you were me blogs.” Yes, I’m on my way to Monte Carlo for an exciting GALA conference on the lastest trends in translation and localization. Like my first blog, in a way it’s a trip “home” … back to translation agencies and the localizatin industry I worked in for 15 years.

I’m really looking forward to the conference, (have been to Monaco before.)  I know many of the presenters, and have worked with some of them. Content localization is changing at a swift pace. It is being influenced by many of the same factors that are driving development in Tech Comm: social media, quicker time to market and demand for delivery on handheld devices.

Travelling to the GALA conference in Monaco has made me stop and think about how much more “commonality” there is between language translation and “plain English” content creation than a few years ago.

Localization a high priority with our customers

If I thought that “leaving” the localization industry would somehow distance me from the needs of translation and localization, I was mistaken. Nearly every existing and potential customer I’ve worked with at Adobe has localization and global markets as a high priority. Localization cost savings is often one of the economic motivators that drives our clients to adopt Tech Comm Suite (FrameMaker and RoboHelp) as a solution. Both products, FrameMaker and RoboHelp, and the combo in Tech Comm Suite make highly accessible “single source publishing” solutions to a variety of priority formats. Continue reading…

Getting Your Ducks in a Row: Taking Another Look at RoboHelp at a Memphis Conference

Adobe held a special pre-conference event Sunday March 11th for early arrivals to the recent UAWriters conference in Memphis. Since the conference focus was User Assistance, RoboHelp was the product focus for this event. The Sunday enclave included an excellent set of focused presentations by subject matter experts on different aspects of UX (User Experience) that can be improved via RoboHelp.

The event was held in Memphis’s historic Peabody Hotel, famous for its twice daily “duck walk,” in which the famed Peabody ducks make an entrance to and exit from the lobby fountain. You can visit a photo album on my Facebook page for highlights, including the ducks.

Building an Enterprise Collaboration Strategy with RoboHelp

Kevin Siegel, founder of IconLogic, Inc., gave a highly interactive presentation on how content from RoboHelp can go through a collaborative review cycle, “in the cloud”, or even via email. Participant’s names and data solicited from the audience were used to prove that the demo was live. Collaborative review can take place in shared review to an internal network server or Acrobat.com, or even via individual e-mailed copies of review PDF. In either case, RoboHelp will output PDF optimized for use with free Acrobat Reader.

Collaborative comments may be imported directly into RoboHelp source files. The track changes feature in RoboHelp may be used by the editor to approve or reject comments to achieve the final, approved version of content. You may view a recorded AdobeTV episode on Using RoboHelp 9’s Collaborative Feature which highlights some of the product features Kevin focused on. Continue reading…

The 20,000 foot view: mobile content in motion vs. conference presentations

This is my first blog written in flight (thanks to “gogo” WiFi on Delta.) Flying home from WritersUA conference in Memphis has given me time to interpret and revisit what I learned in the Peabody Hotel. Being up here “in the clouds” is a bit like being at a conference. Conferences are of great value. But we’re in a slightly rarefied atmosphere, we’re exposed to a limited group of smart people, and we have distance from our workplace.

Down there on the ground, back at work after a conference, sometimes things look different. I had an interesting reality check via a short conversation with the woman who sat next to me on the first flight segment. Naturally, we exchanged where we were coming from and going to (both headed home.) She was curious about the conference, not surprisingly, as she had been furiously answering emails and completing reports on her iPad via WiFi and saving all data to drop box.

What they want “down there on the ground”

This is in no way intended to minimize any of the messages presented at the conference; all of the presentations were top drawer. But many of the presenters were consultants or professionals who visit customer sites for some length of time, help discover and implement a solution, and then fly away. The customer stays behind, “down here on the ground” and continues on with work-a-day demands.

My seat mate works in healthcare for an organization that serves many levels of personnel at all stages of medical services and procedures. After I shared some great “in the cloud” visions of how we can strategize our content, streamline our workflows, pay more attention to mobile delivery, she summed up what people down here on the ground want and need.

“You know, all of the people I’m working with just want the information on their iPhones. And they want the information displayed in a way that they can get what and where they need in three clicks.”

I asked for clarification.

“Most of them have less than 7 minutes to read whatever, a policy or a procedure. And frequently they are walking down a hallway reading and navigating with one hand. They are losing patience with the amount of text they have to drill through to get what they need.”

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The Kindest Cut of All: Surgery and Software Upgrades

Apologies for the 2 weeks “silence” in blogs from your Tech Comm Suite product evangelist. I had throat surgery (thyroid removal) that had a hefty recovery time. Although I returned to work days before this blog was written, there was a little catching up to do. My experience with delayed surgery has a parallel to software upgrades, so hang in there.

Older version of thyroid

Older version of Software

Sometimes our pain points “grow on us” slowly over time

My thyroid problems started several years ago and the gland enlarged over time. I was told to have it removed 3 years ago, but lack of affordable healthcare delayed the process. I convinced myself that “it wasn’t that bad” and just let the condition go.

When you look at yourself in the mirror every morning, you don’t notice incremental changes that take place gradually over time. Weight gain. Aging. A slowly growing lump on the side of your throat. But people who haven’t seen you for a while do notice physical changes. “Max, are you alright?” “Are you feeling OK?” Nobody wanted to blurt out “what is that lemon sized growth on the side of your neck?”

When I recently obtained more affordable insurance and revisted my doctor after a 3 years absence we discovered that my thyroid had grown to over 2.5x normal size. Fortunately, most of it had grown inward and down into my chest, with no complicated “wrap around” other organs or nerves. The surgery was major, but relatively uncomplicated. I could hardly call the recovery period painless, but believe me it was worth it. Even my voice improved for the better.

We get used to our pain points and “work around them”

Many of us who haven’t upgraded our software in 5, 7 or 10 years are experiencing pain points that we become used to, or find a way to justify. This is especially easy to do if we haven’t had hands on with the latest versions. The most common thing that a new software version provides is reduced steps to achieve a goal and quicker, more reliable results.

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