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Report from Eindhoven: TCWorld Roadshow with FrameMaker

Another week, another part of Europe. Today the tcworld roadshow landed in Eindhoven. This city was a tiny town when the Philips family started a light bulb factory in 1891. The city is still known as the ‘city of lights’ in the Netherlands. Thanks to the enormous amount of educated workforce that was needed by this innovative company, the town ate up all surrounding villages, growing to 220,000 inhabitants in 2012. The venue for the roadshow was the classy Pullman hotel, where we were treated to breakfast, all-day long coffee and biscuits and a three-course meal for lunch. But food was not the only thing we came here for, of course.

01 full house

The audience was small but highly motivated, making for interesting discussions during the coffee and lunch breaks. The most striking presentation was by Barry Braster of the local sponsor Etteplan – Tedopres, who showed that using standards as the basis for information systems really brings a lot of value. One such standard is simplified technical English, for which the company has developed a checking tool. Another is SVG, which lies at the basis of the modular illustrations approach that is offered in the HyperSTI product. With a nice demo on an iPad, this presentation showed that high-quality technical information can be created at much lower cost that non-modular text and graphics would require.

Quality was also the topic of the discussion group I took part in. As two translation agencies were represented in the group and two others (managers of documentation departments in their companies) require translations, the discussion centered around the quality of translations. The general idea was that a translator should be at home in the subject matter and that having the translations proofread by another translator may bring the cost up but is the only manner of ensuring that the required quality standards are met.

One of the translation companies works for the EU and mentioned that a special proofreading company is used who get paid by the number of translation errors they find. Interesting incentive.

02 speakersThe day ended with a long panel discussion session, on best practices in a variety of fields. One of the panelists was Karin Schwandt, who runs a company producing infographics. Her small demo of one of the company’s products met with much interest.

Other panelists included documentation managers for DAF (the only Dutch car maker, who nowadays only produces trucks), Philips, NXP Semiconductors and HP. Quite an impressive list, and very interesting views on content management and mobile delivery of information were shared.

And so the second week of the tcworld roadshow had a good start, with a small but high-quality group of attendants. Let’s see what the remaining two cities will bring.


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Jang Graat

Jang F.M. Graat, Chief Technologist at The Content Era LLC, has almost 3 decades experience in the technical communications industry. After studying Physics, Psychology, and Philosophy, he started on a fast-track career in the high-tech computer industry, working as a systems designer, marketeer, technical author, trainer, consultant and programmer. Jang has delivered countless presentations and training courses around the globe. His talks were always entertaining as well as thought-provoking and met with enthusiasm and often a certain degree of bewilderment. Thinking inside a box is not one of his strengths. After being self-employed for 20 years, he has joined Tom Aldous at The Content Era, where he is developing his often revolutionary ideas into clever solutions. He has done tons of coding in ExtendScript, always trying to make the jobs of technical authors less tedious and more effective. You can also connect with Jang on facebook and follow Jang Graat on Twitter: @4everJang

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