A practical introduction to Web analytics for technical communicators

What analytics parameters do you rely on to track the performance of your technical content?

At the STC India Conference earlier this month; my colleague, Vikrant Rai, and I presented a session that discussed some key content-related parameters. Here is the slidedeck:

Case Study: Using Adobe CQ to author technical communication

Peter Barraud and I are going to speak this February at the tcworld India conference in Bangalore. Here’s a short video introduction to our session:

Correspondence Management: Adding custom asset action buttons

The Correspondence Management solution lets you add new actions to the Manage Assets UI for a particular asset type. The following broad steps are involved in this process:

  1. Modify the asset FML
  2. Extend the asset handler
  3. Register the modified asset handler
  4. Rebuild and redeploy the solution template

Details, including code snippets, are available here.

Captivate Getting Started: Create awesome demo videos in a Flash!

If you haven’t already caught the wind, Adobe Captivate Getting Started is a multimedia series of articles, tutorials, and instructional videos that put you on the path to accelerated Cp learning. The series includes:

  • 100 short articles/tutorials that would help you get started with Adobe Captivate features
  • 30+ videos and demonstration that explain the procedures to perform the tasks

Yup, we didn’t mistype those numbers — 100 and 30!

The Getting Started series is workflow-based. You, the user, are guided step-by-step to create and publish projects using Cp. The workflows are categorized as Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced, keeping in mind users at different skill levels.

For example, a Basic user is presented with a simple workflow with four quick steps to create a sample demo. An Advanced user begins a notch higher — learning how to design and set-up a video-publication process, and then creating final, professional-quality video output.

Wondering where to begin? Use the table below to determine your existing expertise level and jump right in.

Task Basic Intermediate Advanced

Create storyboards and standardize the look and feel for your projects using templates. Create standard styles for objects that you use in your projects.

Set up

Set up the content development environment by customizing the workspace. Specify the preferences for your projects, such as the publishing location, reporting options for quiz results, and default recording settings.

Create Learn how to record your actions in an application or a screen area.

Learn how to create different types of projects.

Create projects by leveraging the existing content, such as MS PPTs or images, or by creating new content and recording your demonstrations.

Edit and Enhance Learn how to add text captions and adjust the timing of these text captions. 

Learn how to choose the preferences for your projects. Also, how to add more slides and objects, and edit them in your project.

Engage your users with interactive objects and widgets, videos, and narration.

Enrich Learn how to make the objects and slides interesting by adding effects and transitions to them.  Make your projects interesting and engaging by adding effects to objects and slides. 
Aggregate Integrate multiple courses into a single course using Aggregator. 
Preview Learn how to preview your project before publishing it.  Learn how to preview a project or only the required slides during content development.  Know how your project looks when it is played to your users. Preview specific slides to refine and tweak interactivity and branching of slides. 
Share Colloborate with your co-workers and reviewers by sharing your projects.  Share your projects with other co-workers and reviewers. 
Publish Learn how to publish your project as a SWF file.  Learn how to publish your projects in different formats such as SWF, EXE, APP, and F4V. Also, learn how to host your projects on Adobe Connect Pro or an FTP server.  Publish your projects in different formats, such as SWF, EXE, APP, and F4V. Learn how to host your projects on an LMS, Adobe Connect Pro, or FTP servers. 

So, get started right away!

If you know other resources that will help, add the links as comments below.

Access custom Microsoft Office properties using LiveCycle services

Marcel van Espen, over at the Dr Flex and Dr LiveCycle blog, explains how you can create a LiveCycle process to access custom Office properties. His blog post also includes a useful example.

“Within LiveCycle Workbench ES, one of the services in the common category that you can use is ‘Export XMP’. This service will extract all the available metadata from a PDF document. If you have converted a MS-Office document to a PDF document, you will be surprised what metadata is also converted. All these properties now become accessible.”

Read the complete post here.

Video demo: Building a corporate Twitter solution using LiveCycle and AIR

In a community blog post, Marcel van Espen from the Adobe presales team demonstrates how you can use LiveCycle and AIR to build a Twitter solution for your organization.

… you can use LiveCycle to build a process and an AIR application to publish tweets to a corporate Twitter account, where you have control on what’s published or not. Part 1 focuses on building the client with Flash Builder 4 with the LC Service Discovery plugin. In part 2 you will see how to archive all tweets in a PDF/A format within LiveCycle Content Services.

Part 1

Part 2

RoboHelp Server: An introduction

As technical communicators, one of our key responsibilities is to optimize the value of the user-assistance content that we deliver. What defines the value of content? I focus on the following key indicators:

  • The topics should be search-optimized and populated with the right keywords. Users should be able to reach the right topics when they search using the relevant keywords (if not close to relevant keywords!).
  • Once users reach a topic, they should be able to quickly find answers to the most pertinent questions that they have in that product area.
  • Based on the Web traffic details for a topic, key documentation areas must be identified and optimized.

For optimizing content in alignment with these indicators, we need specific information about our users’ content access patterns. This is where RoboHelp Server proves valuable as a powerful application for hosting, tracking, and managing RoboHelp output in multiple formats.

The many reports that RoboHelp Server provides help identify how users navigate user-assistance content and the product areas where this content needs to be strengthened:

  • Search Terms with No Results: Search terms that returned no results and the number of times users searched for them
  • Frequently Searched Terms: Frequently-searched keywords and how many times users searched for them
  • Frequently Accessed CSH: Frequently-accessed context-sensitive Help topics and how many times they are accessed. The report is arranged by the context IDs of the CSH topics.
  • Frequently Viewed Topics: Report on Topics that end users view most often
  • Usage Statistics: Chronological graphical report of the number of hits to the Help system as a whole. Pages searched for and not opened reflect in this list. The usage statistics report has three additional tabs:
  • Page Views: Number of pages viewed over a given window of time. The window of time is determined by the labels along the X axis.
  • Pages Per Visit: Number of pages viewed per visit. Every instance when a user opens the project is considered as a separate visit. Visits from different Web browsers are counted separately.
    • Browser: Comparative data about the Web browsers in which users viewed the Help content
    • OS: Comparative data about the operating systems on which users viewed the Help content
  • Search Trends: The percentage of search terms that returned no results. The detailed view of this report gives the total number of search terms and how many of them returned results/no results.
  • Help System Errors: Error messages encountered by the current logged-in user

Ankur Jain, Adobe’s product manager for RoboHelp, shares his perspective of the business relevance of these reports in an excellent blog post titled, Create What They Want to Read.

For the while, I’ll leave you with some other insightful community content for RoboHelp Server:

Explore these links and do come back later for more information and tips. Happy reading!

Search enhancements in RoboHelp Server 9

Tulika Goel from the RoboHelp team has posted a useful article on search enhancements in RoboHelp Server 9 at the Technical Communication blog.

Starting with RoboHelp Server 9, authors can continue to leverage strengths of Lucene Search Engine and also retain control over the search results. RoboHelp provides a number of constructs like Synonyms, Stop List and External Keyword Search; using which authors can controls search results for specific words.

Read the complete article here.

If you’re looking for RoboHelp Server 9 documentation, you can download the PDF from this URL. The Adobe RoboHelp Server 9 Reviewer’s Guide is here (PDF).

Convert files to PDF using Adobe Reader

Adobe Reader X features nifty integration with Acrobat.com that lets you quickly convert many types of files to PDF. At last count, many popular formats, including the following, are supported for conversion:

  • Adobe PostScript (PS) and Encapsulated PostScript (EPS)
  • Adobe Photoshop (PSD), Adobe Illustrator (AI), and Adobe InDesign (INDD)
  • Microsoft Excel (XLS, XLSX), Microsoft PowerPoint (PPT, PPTX), and Microsoft Excel (XLS, XLSX)
  • Text (TXT) and Rich Text Format (RTF)
  • Image files (bitmap, JPEG, GIF, TIFF, PNG)
  • Corel WordPerfect (WPD)
  • OpenOffice and StarOffice presentation, spreadsheet, graphic, and document files (ODT, ODP, ODS, ODG, ODF, SXW, SXI, SXC, SXD, STW)

To walk you through the process, let me convert a PowerPoint presentation to PDF. (Simply click any of the screenshots below to view them full-size.)

  1. In Adobe Reader X, select File > CreatePDF Online.
  2. In the Create PDF Files area in the right pane, click Add File and then select the file that you want to convert to PDF. I selected Sample_presentation.pdf.
  3. Click Convert and, when prompted, sign in using your Adobe.com credentials (Adobe ID). Adobe Reader uploads the file to CreatePDF Online and then converts it to PDF. The converted file is saved online by default.
  4. To save the converted file locally to your computer, click Retrieve PDF File. Adobe Reader displays the CreatePDF repository in a browser window, so that you can work with it.
    • Select the newly-created PDF file (in my case, Sample_presentation.pdf) and click Download. Save the file to a local directory.
  5. Note that you can also use the online CreatePDF view to combine multiple PDF files. Now, isn’t that cool?

    I’m sure you’ll love these new Adobe Reader features! For more information, refer to this Help article.

LiveCycle: Troubleshooting protocol for PDF Generator ES2

Jayan Kandathil has posted a really useful troubleshooting protocol for PDF Generator ES2 at the LiveCycle Product Blog. Here are the questions that Jayan suggests you consider while troubleshooting PDFG issues:

  • Is the operating system Windows?
  • Is the hardware sufficient?
  • Is the memory sufficient?
  • Is Microsoft Office installed (Windows only)?
  • Did you start Microsoft Office applications after the install and dismiss all dialogs?
  • Is Adobe Acrobat Professional 9 installed (Windows only)?
  • Is OpenOffice.org installed (Linux or Solaris only)?
  • Is the ‘Print Spooler’ service running?
  • Is the ‘Adobe PDF’ printer set as the default printer?
  • Did you start Acrobat Professional after the install and dismiss all dialogs?
  • Which Windows user’s credentials is PDF Generator running with?
  • Does the PDFGen.api file exist in the \Acrobat\plug_ins\ folder?
  • Is the System Readiness Tool happy?

For the complete blog post, visit this URL.