Surviving Extreme Conditions in DITA

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This session describes the options available in DITA for variable text and variant text. Participants will learn how the DITA constructs are used in place of complex schemes with multiple condition tags in unstructured tools.

This session is delivered by Sarah O’Keefe.

Creating adaptive content for multi-screen devices: Challenges and solutions

In this era of device explosion, when consumers are spending more time on smartphones and tablets than on PCs, it has become increasingly important for organizations to reach their customers by offering content on these new devices. However, it is easier said than done, as the traditional output formats such as Webhelp are ill-suited for these devices because of their varying screen sizes.

In this presentation, Vikram Verma, Product Manager, Adobe Systems, will describe how organizations are adapting to the multi-device era and will share the best practices to keep in mind while creating content for these devices. He will also discuss some of the content strategies relevant for these devices and will show you how to publish your content and make it accessible to end-users.

This is a vendor presentation by Vikram Verma of Adobe.

What you see is what you get: getting better visuals through design reviews

What does it take to create great visual content to support technical documentation, reference and other content? Do you have to be a graphic designer or artist to make effective content? Believe it or not, it’s not all about you and your creations. It’s actually about everyone else and getting their feedback.

In this workshop, you learn and practice a few ideas to help you keep your design looking professional and useful. We’re will run a design review on work that you create and revise in the session. Believe it or not, at least half of good visual design isn’t about you or what you create it’s about the feedback you get.

We’ll layout ground rules for a design critique session and then work through suggestions for getting the most meaning out of the feedback, without the ‘I just don’t like it.’ We’ll practice providing feedback on visual elements and help you overcome the ‘But I don’t know anything about that!’ for yourself and those reviewing your work.

So while you may not be an expert in visual design and would prefer to ‘just work with words’ come explore with us how you can do more with a little feedback.

This workshop is facilitated by Matt Pierce.

Embracing change: How two technical authors made their skills go further

Marilyn Heron and Nick Tonge give an insight into their varied roles at Pace plc, showing how these have extended beyond that of the traditional author. Using examples of their work in consumer electronics for the Americas market, they describe:

  • How they became responsible for designing the labelling on products and cartons. This led to:
    • input into product design
    • increased understanding of the manufacturing processes
    • discussions with suppliers
    • research into labels and materials
  • How they took over the design of carton artwork
  • How their typical authoring tasks changed, moving away from user manuals, words and paper.

This session is delivered by Marilyn Heron and Nick Tonge.

More pictures, less text: modifying technical content for the “visual age”

Our consumers’ attention span is diminishing on a yearly basis, increasing the challenge to engage and retain their focus. Although a few tools make it easy to insert rich media into multi-channel published content, how do you determine when to use images instead of traditional steps? Today’s projects require distribution equivalents of a press release, a movie trailer, and an interactive, visual experience. Text and words aren’t going away; we will just be using fewer of them. Attend this dynamic session to discover which skills you already possess to address the challenges described above, and how to “think visually”.

This session is delivered by Maxwell Hoffmann.

Patterns in language for linguistic disambiguation in a style checker

Some style guides specify the part of speech that an approved term has. For example, Microsoft style permits the word ‘input’ as a noun but not as a verb. An effective style checker must give a warning only if a term is used incorrectly.

Patterns in language can be used to identify the part of speech that a term has.

In the structure, ‘an + X + was’, X is a noun. Most text is more complex.
Sometimes, disambiguation is not possible. However, the patterns are sufficiently good for practical purposes. (The patterns are used in a term checker.)

This session is delivered by Mike Unwalla.

When culture meets content

This session presents an overview of some of the issues documentation and training materials can face when being viewed through a cultural lens different to our own to better equip technical communicators who are writing for an international readership. Choice of words and supporting images will be examined with the aid of in-country research conducted in Oman together with experience gained on recent projects.

This session is presented by Andrew Peck.

Simplified technical English: Overview of the ASD-STE100 specification

  • The making of the ASD-STE100 Specification
  • Basics: one word for one function, procedure or object, keywords, rules
  • ASD-STE100 makes the difference: accuracy, clarity, risk reduction, translatability
  • Practical examples
  • The global market
  • Updating the ASD-STE100 Specification
  • UKCeB STE Training

This session is delivered by Maria MacDonald.

Digital accessibility: Strategy, content and delivery

Delivering content across different digital channels is an accepted part of today’s communication landscape. But how do you make sure your information is reaching everyone who wants (or needs) to access it?

This presentation will explain how to create a successful digital accessibility strategy. It will look at existing standards and frameworks, accessibility as part of agile and waterfall methodologies, and provide best practice guidance for accessible content across different platforms.

This session is delivered by Léonie Watson.

Single-source/content management beyond text: Dealing with graphics and multimedia

For most authors the concepts of content reuse are nothing new. Whether you work under the labels of “single-source publishing”, “content management”, or “multi-channel publishing” it all boils down to writing content once, maximizing reuse, and (hopefully) never resorting to content duplication to achieve your publishing goals. All of this works beautifully with text, but various media elements have always been the Achilles heel of content reuse. In this session Mr. Hamilton will explore concepts and techniques to bring graphic and multimedia elements into the content management workflow.

This session is delivered by Mike Hamilton.

Developing KPIs

KPIs (key performance indicators) are measures that help you manage your team’s activities, improve your content and communicate with your colleagues and customers. Even if KPIs aren’t part of your organisation’s culture, going through the process of developing them will sharpen up your strategy and ensure you and your team are focused on activities that really matter to the business.
This is a hands-on workshop, where you will spend most of the time working alone and in small groups and to come up with KPIs through exercises.
During the session you will:

  • learn about the characteristics of good KPIs
  • begin to develop KPIs relevant to your role

The workshop is suitable for anyone working as a technical communicator or managing a technical communications team.

This workshop is facilitated by Rachel Potts.

Time-saving tools and techniques for capturing screens

This session starts by presenting examples of how screenshots can really add value to software documentation and user assistance. You’ll then learn the key steps you need to take at capture time: these include guidelines on setting colour depth, sizing UI objects, and capturing drop-down menus. The session concludes with demonstrations of the most popular and powerful screen capture tools and strategies that are available.

You will learn:

  • Where, when, and how screenshots can really add value
  • The key steps for capturing a window, screen region, or object successfully
  • An overview of the tools available
  • The strengths and weaknesses of each tool
  • A range of powerful tips for saving time
  • Guidelines on single-sourcing screenshots for print- and screen-based presentation

This session is delivered by Matthew Ellison.

Changing the engine without stopping the car

Even if you know that structured authoring and reuse makes perfect sense, the sheer volume of your existing documentation may keep you from making the transition that your documentation team desperately needs. Most companies cannot afford to start a full rewrite of their materials, and they cannot afford to stop production for months while the legacy materials are being converted and imported into a content management system. This presentation shows how gradual migration of legacy materials into a structured authoring environment, and subsequent migration into a reuse system, is feasible when you use the right set of methods and tools.

This session is delivered by Jang Graat.

McAfee: Our DITA journey towards collaborative authoring

Although painful at the time, the move to topic-based writing and the use of DITA and a Content Management System has improved our content, significantly reduced localization costs, and provided the building blocks for dynamic and collaborative content.

Explore lessons learned and areas of opportunity for tapping into the power of DITA and all it promises.

This session is delivered by Andrew Westfold.