Posts in Category "Technical Communication"

Introducing Adobe Technical Communication Suite 2.5, now with Photoshop CS5 and Captivate 5 [VIDEO]

I’m extremely excited to share with all of you that today we are updating our Adobe Technical Communication Suite software to version 2.5.

In version 2.5, we are replacing Adobe Captivate 4 with the brand new Adobe Captivate 5, which includes a brand new user interface, as well as a long list of new features.

Also, we are replacing Photoshop CS4 with Photoshop CS5, which is an amazing new release with exciting new features, such as the new content-aware fill, which allows you to easily remove an image element and magically replace it with details that match the lighting, tone and noise of the surround area, so that it looks like the content never existed.

Here's What's Inside Adobe Technical Communication Suite 2.5:

FrameMaker mnemonic

Adobe FrameMaker® 9

Author and Publish Technical Documents in Print, PDF, XML and DITA

RoboHelp mnemonic

Adobe RoboHelp® 8

Easily create Professional Help Systems, KBs and Policies and Procedures

Captivate mnemonic

Adobe Captivate® 5

Bring your Documentation to life by visually explaining complex tasks via show-me movies and try-it simulations

Photoshop mnemonic

Adobe Photoshop® CS5

Use Content-aware fill to remove unwanted areas from an image and for including Rich-media in Technical Documents

Acrobat 9 mnemonic

Adobe Acrobat® 9 Pro Extended

All the features of Acrobat Professional, plus features for working with 3D images and Video-to-Flash conversion

Presenter mnemonic

Adobe Presenter 7

Rapidly create high-impact Adobe Flash presentations from PowerPoint for inclusion in Technical Documents

Also included: Adobe Bridge CS5, Adobe Device Central CS5, and Adobe 3D Reviewer

To learn about what’s new in Adobe Technical Communication Suite 2.5, I have published the following short Adobe Presenter video. Click the image below to launch the video in a new window.

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The Essentials of Single Sourcing with FrameMaker and RoboHelp [VIDEO]

Some time ago, I hosted a 2-hour eSeminar on the topic of dynamically linking FrameMaker files in RoboHelp via the Adobe Technical Communication Suite. The recording is also available for onDemand viewing and whenever I get questions related to this topic, I always send people to these recordings.

However, sometimes I find that some people just don’t have time to sit through a 2hr video and would much prefer a shorter video and thus this posting.

The video below is only 14 minutes long, and it walks you through the essentials of single sourcing with FrameMaker 9 and RoboHelp 8 using the Adobe Technical Communication Suite 2.

Having said that, I still highly recommend that if you have time, you go over these two additional recordings, which dive deeper into this process.

Click the image below to launch the video in a new window.

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Using the Windows Snipping Tool with Adobe Captivate [SIMULATION]

There’s a lively discussion happening now internally by members of the Adobe Captivate 5 prerelease program on the topic of whether Adobe Captivate should include a screen capturing tool.

The idea is that often times you need to supplement your Adobe Captivate projects with a simple screen shot of a dialog box, or a rectangular snapshot of an area of the screen, so I’m somewhat in agreement with this argument, especially if you don’t already have a dedicated screen capturing tool.

Having said that, there’s a little known utility included with Windows 7 called the Snipping Tool and after I tweeted about it some time ago, one of my followers pointed out that it was also included with Windows Vista, so my take is why not use it.

If you haven’t discovered this utility, you are not alone, most people haven’t either. Here’s a simple Adobe Captivate simulation, which show where to find this utility and how to use it with Adobe Captivate. The simulation shows Windows 7 and Adobe Captivate 5 but the overall steps also apply to Windows Vista and Adobe Captivate 4.

Click the play button to begin the simulation:

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6 Reason to be excited about Adobe Community Help in CS5 and how to build a Similar Experience

The new Adobe Community Help (ACH) in Adobe Creative Suite 5 (CS5) is the kind of revolution we need in User Assistance (aka Online Help) because it’s based on everything that is important and trending in today’s Web 2.0 world.

Below are 6 reasons why I’m excited about what Adobe Community Help brings to our CS5 users and also to the Help community in general.

I’m getting lots of inquiries from customers who want to deliver a similar Help experience to their users. If you are interested, I recorded a video on how to use Adobe RoboHelp to create and deliver a similar Help experience. Click HERE for more information.

  1. ACH is built entirely on Search. Many applications even include Search fields, which invoke Adobe Community Help automatically and display search results.

  1. ACH is a powerful showcase of User-generated content. It brings together relevant information from an entire ecosystem of knowledgeable users of the CS5 products, including Bloggers and Adobe TV.

  1. ACH is a Community platform for everyone to get involved through the ability to suggest useful links, provide a tip or comment, a correction on a Help topic, as well as Rate a topic.

  1. ACH is built using the latest Rich Internet Application tools. Adobe Community Help is build on Adobe AIR, which means that it’s cross-platform giving our users a singular experience across Windows and Mac.

  1. Adobe Community Help provides Online and Offline synchronization of content. Unlike the Help in CS4, which only provided Help when you were connected to the Internet, Adobe Community Help provides Help whether you are connected or not. When you are connected, the Help always checks for the latest information and provides a way for you to sync up the two versions.

  1. ACH also provides an in-Topic Search feature for search through long Help Topic. Press Ctrl + F to access it.

Thanks for visting the Blog and again if you want to learn more about how you can build a similar experience without any coding, click HERE. 

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How CAREstream Health uses Adobe Technical Communication Suite 2 [Success Story]

I always love hearing how our customers use the products that I’m passionate about, and this week we published a great success story on how CAREstream Health, a Canadian distributor of medical equipment, uses the tools in Adobe Technical Communication Suite 2 (TCS2) to steamline its technical documentation process.

There are three things in particular that stood out to me when I read the final version of this success story that I would like to share through excerpts from the article, namely:

  1. CAREstream Health’s productivity has increased tenfold since using the PDF Review capabilities in TCS2

The Challenge

“In the past, managing and producing such a large volume of technical content—an essential part of CAREstream’s business model—was a time-consuming and restrictive process. The documentation review cycle was lengthy and disjointed, with multiple contributors editing and merging disparate file types. Also, there wasn’t an easy way to reuse content components.”

The Solution

“Instead of grappling with numerous, disparate documents, the
CAREstream team sends out a single PDF file—generated in Adobe FrameMaker—for review. Each recipient submits comments on the document, which are then merged into one, consolidated file. From there, editors can choose to accept or reject the revisions.”

“Our productivity has increased tenfold since we began using the PDF review capability alone. Implementing a new system using Adobe Technical Communication Suite 2 is a huge, revolutionary advance for technical communicators,” says El-Damaa.”

Click HERE for a video on how to conduct these type of PDF-based Reviews.


  1. CAREstream Health migrated to a DITA-based solution via Adobe FrameMaker and the Linked2 solution for Documentum

The Challenge

“CAREstream needed an integrated technical publishing system that would allow remote teams to easily create, convert, consolidate, and publish all of its time-sensitive technical documents in an application-independent format. The ideal technology would have to integrate with the company’s legacy Documentum content management system (CMS) as well as support an upgrade of that package, and allow writers and editors to migrate off word processing software and work in their favorite editor, Adobe FrameMaker®.”

“The solution would need to enable standardization on the application-independent format of XML, and leverage the industry-standard Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA)/XML structure. All documents would have to be easily translated for localization, and be available for output to multiple formats.”

The Solution

“Linked2 appears as a menu item on the FrameMaker screen, featuring simple choices such as Check-in, Check-out, Cancel Check-out, Search, and Make Reusable Object. “Adobe Technical Communication Suite 2 is a winning technological combination that places a strong emphasis on integration,” says El-Damaa.”

“One of the main reasons CAREstream wanted to go to a DITA and XML structure was because of its powerful reuse capabilities. “With our new solution, all we have to do is right click on any content in a FrameMaker document and select ‘make reusable’,” says El-Damaa. “The selected text is automatically updated for repurposing. It is an incredibly simple and efficient process that has greatly accelerated our workflow.”


  1. CAREstream Health wanted tools capable of combining text and rich media for a better end-user experience

“El-Damaa adds that a key reason CAREstream opted for an Adobe solution is that it provides a good user experience and requires minimal training. Adobe Technical Communication Suite 2, he explains, was the only solution that provided tools to easily combine text and graphics for staff to rapidly produce professional, image-rich materials.”

“Now, CAREstream customers receive highly polished, interactive
documents that serve a wide range of needs, adding value to the transaction with improved service, and helping the organization build a loyal customer base. As an added cost savings, there has been a drop in the number of incoming customer service calls because product documentation is much improved.”


Click HERE to read the full story.

 

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Leveraging the Acrobat.com Cloud in Adobe Captivate 5 [VIDEO]

Let me start by saying how much I love the free services of Acrobat.com, especially the 5GB of storage space for sharing large files through a simple URL link; the ability to conduct a screen sharing session with up to 3 people; Buzzword, Adobe’s collaborative WordProcessor in the Cloud, and many more services.  

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What I think is even more exciting is how Adobe teams across the company are finding creative ways of integrating Acrobat.com into their applications.

The latest showcase is what’s new in Adobe Captivate 5 as it relates to the integration with Acrobat.com.

For example, you can now upload a share a Captivate project (.CPTX) with other users via Acrobat.com, but more importantly, you can also conduct Shared Project Reviews via Acrobat.com, and perhap even more impressive is the ability to publish and track Quiz results via Acrobat.com, which means no Learning Management System (LMS) is required.

In the next few posts with videos, I will cover each of these capabilities, but before I do, I wanted to start by introducing you to Acrobat.com and provide you an overview of where most of these options are in Adobe Captivate 5.

Click the image below to launch the video in a new window.

Links to resources mentioned in Video:

 

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The Social Media Revolution Video: Take II

The first version of this video was so compelling to me that I immediately bought the paperback copy of Socialnomics by Erik Qualman, which I have read at least 5 times. I then bought a digital version of this book for Kindle, later for my Nook and my latest purchase was an iBooks version for the iPad.

My point is that if you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend you do, the statistics are simply compelling, the stories are well told, and the revolution is tough to ignore.

 

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I’m a huge advocate of Social Media because it has done wonders for me professionally, and also personally, and I often say in my presentations that we are at a point of no return and that we need to embrace this Social Media revolution now.

I have also used many of these statistics in presentations I do with regards to the impact Social Media is having on Technical Communication, and more specifically on how Technical Communicators have the opportunity of becoming “Information Curators.” In case you haven’t seen these resources, here are some useful links:

In closing, I leave you with these action items I include at the end of my presentations:

  • Open an account on Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Search for your brand and products on http://search.twitter.com
  • Start a Blog — Tweeting is good, but Tweeting and Blogging is even better.
  • Follow a conference using a Twitter hashtag (e.g. #STC10)
  • Make a plan to become the Information Curator for your products
  • Find the Influencers of your products and services and connect with them
  • Download Adobe Community Help for example of how Adobe is leveraging end-user generated Help
  • Have fun and enjoy the Social Media ride
  • Watch the Social Media Revolution on YouTube. Also Embedded here:

 

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RoboHelp content now playing on EPUB devices, including iPad and Nook [SIMULATION]

EPUB, short for electronic publication, is a free and open eBook standard by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) and a format that Adobe RoboHelp 8 now supports.

An EPUB eBook is a digital version of a traditional printed book that has been optimized for onscreen reading. Technically speaking, the EPUB format is an XML-based format designed to enable text to reflow according to the capabilities of various eBook readers. This means that you can resize the text, change the font, or view an eBook on different screen sizes and the text will reflow to fill the available viewing area.

 

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There are many EPUB-enabled devices available today with support for eBooks, including the Sony Reader, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, Motorola’s Droid, Apple’s iPhone (through apps like Stanza) and now the new iPad, which support EPUB natively.

You can see a list of additional EPUB devices here on adobe.com.

Adobe RoboHelp’s Scripting Language enables the publishing of EPUB

One of the new features in RoboHelp 8 is the introduction of a Scripting Language, which is the same scripting language in Photoshop and other Adobe products. This Scripting Language enables us to respond to emerging trends, such as EPUB, without having to wait until a new major release of RoboHelp before we provide functionality.

Ankur Jain, our RoboHelp Product Manager, has published a post on the steps for generating EPUP in RoboHelp, and has also included the free script.

If you are attending the annual STC conference here in Dallas, TX, stop by our Adobe booth, or attend one of our sessions where we will be demonstrating our new EPUB support using various EPUB-enabled devices.

Below is an Adobe Captivate Simulation to illustrate what is like to generate EPUB from RoboHelp and what the experience is like reading it on the iPad.

Click the image below to launch the simulation in a new window.

 

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Adobe Captivate and Adobe Presenter: the best of both worlds [VIDEO]

I read many
discussions on Adobe Captivate vs. Adobe Presenter, or Captivate vs. a similar
Presenter tool and I’m always puzzled by this question because frankly it’s
like comparing apples and oranges.

 

Admittedly, there
are some overlaps between the two applications, like the fact that both
applications leverage PowerPoint slides for generating Flash-based eLearning, and both include a similar Quizzing
module, but other than that, they were developed to serve two different
purposes and each has its own strenghts.

 

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Perhaps a better question is how do I effectively use both products together?

 

Adobe Presenter was
designed to enable PowerPoint users to easily generate Flash-based eLearning courses, by adding voice-over to slides, and
syncing the audio to the slide animations. It also has features for importing
or capturing video using a webcam, as well as using the built-in Quizzes to include graded quizzes or surveys in your final project.

 

There are two things that stand out in Adobe Presenter in the way of strengths, when comparing it to Adobe Captivate, namely the sleek, user-friendly navigation user interface (UI) in the final project; and the way it natively works with PowerPoint files, this is because Adobe Presenter works right from within PowerPoint.

 

Click HERE to see a short Adobe Presenter presentation, where you can experience the sleek navigation UI I mentioned above. Along the way, when you get to slide 3, you’ll notice it is an embedded Adobe Captivate simulation, which plays perfectly inside the same interface.

 

Just to recap, if your requirement is to produce eLearning based mostly on lots of PowerPoint slides, hands down Adobe Presenter is the product you need.

 

However if you need to create software simulations where you need to record the screen, or need to develop branched scenarios for soft-skills training, which requires complex branching, then Adobe Captivate is exactly what you need to use.

 

So what if you need to develop eLearning that involves PowerPoint slides and you also need to supplement the project with software simulations or complex branched scenarios created in Adobe Captivate?

 

This is where the two applications can work closely together.

 

In this video (00:28:34) I share best practices for inserting Adobe Captivate  projects in Adobe Presenter. Click the image below to launch the video in a new window.

 

 

 

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Improving Documentation through Search results

Last week, Colum McAndrew published a fascinating blog post on how Adobe RoboHelp Server Reports are helping his company improve Documentation by learning from what end-users are searching and then fine-tuning the documentation in Adobe RoboHelp accordingly.  

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Here’s an excerpt from his blog:

“In our case, users might get a little frustrated if they also have to remember whether a dialog has been coded using UK or US English in order to find what they need! Searches that returned no results (e.g. “Color” instead of “Colour” and “Catalogue” instead of “Catalog”) ably highlighted the need for greater consistency.”

I asked Colum to summarize his experience and here’s what he said:

Q: Colum, last week you wrote a compelling post on how the RoboHelp Server Reports are helping you improve your company’s Online Help, especially by looking at what users are Searching. Can you summarize your experience for us?

A: Sure. In February this year we completed a full documentation rewrite of one of our product suites. We invested heavily in additional Technical Communication Suite licences but also wanted to implement a RoboHelp Server solution to host all future product documentation.

Since February we have occasionally looked at the usage statistics gathered by the RoboHelp Server but never with future strategy in mind. Then out of the blue I was asked how the statistics had helped us improve our documentation and I realised we hadn’t an immediate answer. I went back for a closer look. Even with a little more than two months data, it became clear that there were areas we could work on and this is what I have tried to highlight in my blog. One of the main areas of interest that the RoboHelp Server implementation has highlighted is the need for greater consistency between the documentation and the application’s user interface, especially in areas like usage of US vs UK English.


 

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