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”

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The Evolution of oXygen 17

For the last few weeks, I’ve had a chance to play with the beta of oXygen 17, which has just been released by publisher SyncRO Soft. In keeping with my previous post, I’m going to focus on how the software is evolving. However, since there are a good 80 new features in this release, I can’t avoid doing a bit of feature listing

My previous look at oXygen 14.2 also served as a general product review. Since then, this top class XML Editor has continued to evolve toward the non-specialist user in two ways. It makes XML editing easier for people who don’t know anything about XML and don’t want or need to, and it also provides easier access to the XML structure for those who do.

Not only that, this new release goes a long way toward making the job of developers who want to customize oXygen much easier, while retaining the features that make it popular with geeks and specialists. Continue reading “The Evolution of oXygen 17”

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”

Wayfinding and Blogger’s Block

I’m horrified to notice that I haven’t posted here since March! OK – I admit it – I’ve been blocked. Not writer’s block – I have no problem writing, I’ve been writing all sorts of things since March. Nope. It’s the accursed BLOGGER’S BLOCK (and here you bring in the horror music…). By that I mean, I have so much to write about, and so little time for anything (like paying work, for example) that when I do get a moment, I resist.

  • Perhaps, among all the things I meant to write about, I can’t choose which to start with.
  • Perhaps, among all the things people have asked me to write about, I can’t prioritize.
  • Perhaps, among all the things that have inspired me to write, I can only remember a few.

Perhaps all of the above. Perhaps I couldn’t decide.

Perhaps I just couldn’t find my way…

…which reminds me of a blog I’ve been meaning to write. Continue reading “Wayfinding and Blogger’s Block”

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.