The Latest From Our Research

Here’s the latest update on “Probing Our Future,” the current research project conducted by The Transformation Society with the collaboration and support of Adobe Technical Communication:

Our Guest Blog Post, “Blazing the Future TechComm Trail” by Ray Gallon and Neus Lorenzo is on line at TechComm Central by Adobe. It provides a first reflection on the other activities in the project, “not to research new technologies, tools, or delivery channels, but to understand how the evolution and ongoing use of these things affects our practice, our needs, and the needs of our users, so we can better understand our path.”

Recording of the Webinar “Probing Our Future” from October 4, 2016 on Adobe Events

Webinar slides “Probing Our Future” on SlideShare

Storify transcript from the live Twitter chat on October 6, 2016

Earlier post on this blog about the project

Watch for our white paper, coming soon.

Enjoy!

Advertisements

Adobe FrameMaker 2015: Traditional Future

Adobe’s newest suite of technical communication products, TCS 6, has just appeared, all new and squeaky clean, with its lead products rebranded as “2015 Releases.” I’ll write again later about the suite as a whole, but this post is specifically about FrameMaker.

FrameMaker is arguably the lead product in this suite, and its 2015 incarnation is one that finds inspiration in its original roots – going back to the source – and in a firm vision of a multichannel, multiscreen, multimodal future.

It seems to be the year for abundance of new and genuinely useful features in tech comm editors, and FrameMaker boasts its share of ’em. I’m sure lots of other bloggers and reviewers will enumerate them for you, and evaluate their implementation or their overall utility. I’m interested in writing about the impact of some of these new features, and what that means for two futures – a future in our profession that is a quickly moving target full of unknowns, and a future for the application itself that might be surprising.

Continue reading “Adobe FrameMaker 2015: Traditional Future”

TCS 5: Adobe’s Bold Move

At the beginning of 2014 Adobe released Technical Communication Suite 5, with new versions of all its key software elements.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I’ve been asked to blog on a lot of subjects. This is one. I’m not going to review TCS 5, or enumerate the new features, many competent people have done that already long ago. I am going to talk about what I think is a major move by Adobe in this release. It’s a good move, in my view, and one that is not without risk to the company.

Full Disclosure

I work with Adobe, and they asked me to review their software, to which they give me access without charge. No one in my position is going to write a negative review and publish it. However, if I did not have positive things to say about this software, I would simply not write about it at all. In any case, this is not a review, and the opinions in this post are my own, and are not influenced by Adobe or anyone else. As always, I reserve  the right to my own independent opinion, and that’s what you’re getting here.

Continue reading “TCS 5: Adobe’s Bold Move”

We Are Family

Over here in Europe, we get a fair number of American TV series, but not all of them. Recently, a friend passed me a complete set of all the existing episodes of Firefly which I’ve been enjoying immensely. I’d not heard of it before, but I understand that it has become something of a cult series in the U.S. and I understand why.

It has something in common with a series that has had vastly greater success, in the U.S. and abroad: NCIS.

I’m not sure why one series failed and the other succeeded, but what ties them both together, and makes them both so appealing, is the sense of dysfunctional but united family.

Continue reading “We Are Family”

Are You Googleable?

A comment I made to one of Mark Baker’s recent posts, What is your primary media? Paper or the web? led to an interesting discussion about embedded user assistance.

In my recent webinar series on User Assistance and Cognition, I used the term Double Embeddedness to speak of embedded procedural help that has, in turn, concepts embedded in it. I also mentioned that our user assistance needs to be searchable.

In our exchange on Mark’s blog, he said,

Embedded assistance can never be comprehensive, by its nature, so there is still a role for more comprehensive information. But the place for that more comprehensive information is on the Web, where it can integrate with all the customer-produced information. People are simply going to stop looking to “the help” as an intermediate information source. They are going to start with the interface, and then go to the web.

I couldn’t agree more. Not only that, but the source of that additional material must be a true, integrated learning community, one that groups users, SME’s, developers, tech comms, marketers, and product managers in one community, sharing ideas as equal contributors (even if, eventually, some of them have decision power that others do not have).

That was one of the main points in the third webinar of the series.

If your user assistance isn’t Googleable, chances are your users are not going to find it – wherever else it happens to be.

Let’s Break a Tech Comm Rule

Update: Links to all session slides and recordings are grouped here.

I’ve been a technical communicator for nigh on 20 years. I teach technical communications. I theorize about technical communications. And for all this time, I have steadfastly held to the great rule that you do not mix concepts with tasks.

DITA has three major topic types. Two of them are Concept and Task. Why? To keep them separate, of course – everyone knows that!

And yet – and yet – and yet – here I am, telling you that “everything we know is wrong.” Continue reading “Let’s Break a Tech Comm Rule”