One of the cornerstones of good documentation is solid information design. If you’re interested in increasing your knowledge of the subject, then check out this set of documents and links. They’re part of an information design course established by Thom Haller. If you’ve been in the tech comm game for a while, some of the information might seem old hat. But it’s a good refresher, and a good starting point for anyone new to information design.
In a recent blog post, Fabrice Talbot made the following interesting observation:
… the documentation industry is promoting single-sourcing as THE SOLUTION to all their problems. However, for smaller companies the costs of moving to single-source (or XML, or both) may outreach the benefits. I could not agree more …
- A great article (it’s a PDF) by Anne Gentle, Lisa Dyer, and Michael Priestly on building a DITA-wiki hybrid.
- Does working on screen change the way we think? This blog post speculates that it just might.
- Mike Hughes discusses two ways in which user assistance adds value, and how to communicate that value to the suits.
- Need to build a DITA specialization? Then check out this online tool.
- The stem sentence debate: a cause for concern, or just a quibble? Read this article and then decide.
In case you didn’t listen to last week’s podcast, Aaron and I will be giving a presentation at the May 13 meeting of the Toronto chapter of the STC. The title of the presentation is “The Ears Have It”, and it will discuss how podcasts:
- Can help maintain an ongoing dialogue about a particular domain or topic
- Are a great way to disseminate new developments
- Are available anytime, anywhere, at the user’s convenience
- Make supplementary material more interesting
We’ll also be outlining the mechanics of podcasting, analyzing why some popular training and educational podcasts are successful, and how you can use the same techniques with your audio materials.
If you’re in the Toronto area, why not drop in, have a listen, and ask a few questions? You can get directions to the meeting here.
- The rise of embedded assistance
- Increased reliance on multimedia
- The migration to structured authoring
- Conversing with users
There are a few more trends out there, I’m sure. The ones that I’m interested in are using wikis for internal and customer-facing documentation, and incorporating user-generated documentation in your documentation set.
What do you see as being some of the current trends in our industry? Feel free to leave a comment.
I came across this interesting article in the New York Times about Philip Parker, a college professor who has written over 200,000 books using patented content creation software. This had me thinking – could this sort of technology ever be used to author technical content? Theoretically, it could. Continue reading