Recently Read

With the TICAD conference last week, a couple of days in my sick bed, and the imminent product release I’m working towards, I’ve not had a lot of time to post here. However, the RSS feeds keep trickling in, so here are a few items that caught my eye over the past couple of weeks.

What Beautiful HTML Code Looks Like
I’m a terrible coder. Which is just as well because I’m not a developer but as I do dabble in HTML and CSS quite frequently (hey, and PHP too), then this is a good reminder for me to develop my own best practises.

Code is Tabbed into Sections: If each section of code is tabbed in once, the structure of the code is much more understandable. Code that is all left-justified is horrific to read and understand.

Includes a neat infographic, downloadable as PDF, which is now pinned beside my desk.

Procedures: The Sacred Cow Blocking the Road
An update on a (yipes) 10 year old article. I don’t think I read it when it was first published but I have read it. Well worth another visit though.

“It takes a surprisingly short amount of time for a user to feel unstuck. When I was a usability consultant, I used to advise clients to put the critical information in the first three words of a sentence.”

IA Deliverables
From Content Surveys, to wireframes, Personas and Use Cases, a brief overview of each is followed by a sample template. Not only a useful resource but a good overview of the typical process an Information Architect will undertake, a lot of which can be adapted to more traditional product documentation.

Collaboration is not a dirty word
Collaboration on content (not documents, even if that is where the content ends up) was a key part of my presentation. It’s good to see the switch from document-centric to info-centric taking place.

I love things being this easy. I love getting (almost) zero emails with attachments. I love not having a hard drive full of Word documents.

DITA Troubleshooting specialization

The Troubleshooting specialization creates a new topic type that is well-suited for problem-solution information.

7 Ways to keep the post-conference buzz
Not long back from a conference myself, I have already done a few of these things (item 3 in particular) but some good ideas here.

Wikis for Documentation?
Steve Manning isn’t sure about using Wikis for Documentation but does think they could be a big hit in another, related area:

Most writers have to guess about their users. Few writers get the opportunity to speak directly with users. Few get any sort of feedback at all. They are left to do their best. How useful would it be to be able to post your document on a Wiki and have users be able to comment topic-by-topic? To see the questions they ask?

I totally agree. All I need to do is figure out how this works within a single source environment, and tackle a few issues around governance and change management and it could be an excellent working model.

And finally…
I’ll be updating the TechComms RSS feeds download soon, so if you think you should be on the list (or even if you aren’t sure whether you are or not) then let me know. It includes all kinds of stuff which is loosely related to Technical Communications, and I’m always on the lookout for more sources of inspiration. Leave a comment if you think of anything.


 
 
 

4 Responses to “Recently Read”

  1. Never the Same River Twice
    29 November 2007 at 14:09

    Thanks for mentioning my article about keeping the conference buzz going! I hope it helps you in your work.

  2. Janet Swisher
    29 November 2007 at 16:46

    I’ve recently started a tech comm blog at http://www.janetswisher.com/

    The feed is http://adaptablearts.com/xml-rss2.php?blogid=13

    Please consider it for your list.

  3. Gordon McLean
    29 November 2007 at 21:45

    Hi Janet, nice find with the Graphstracts.

    And yes I’ll add you to the list.

  4. Charles
    18 December 2007 at 22:47

    I just surfed over here from the Rockley blog. As for your post about wikis providing feedback to writers, I couldn’t agree more.

    I just reviewed the MadCap Feedback Server back in October which provided a very granular breakdown topic by topic of comments that readers could leave within an active help system.

    http://charlesjeter.com/2007/10/04/

    There’s a part 2 to that, and I’m working on finishing a podcast I got last week from their VP of Product Management. Very intriguing stuff!

    – Charles