Automating content layout without losing flexibility

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One of the major advantages of DITA and XML lies in automating layout. One of the major challenges of deploying DITA and XML lies in automating layout.

Automating layout is a tedious task performed by some technically gifted persons. But what if there are dozens, even hundreds of different layouts? Then automating layout becomes expensive and only available to large-scale projects. Rolling out structured authoring to areas with such layout requirements is virtually impossible.

What if the required layout cannot be fully automated? Then performance and security gains on the authoring side may be eaten up by finetuning the generated output. This might be a show stopper on an otherwise worthwhile move to DITA and XML content management.

In this presentation Sebastian Göttel explains how SCHEMA tries to tackle the challenge by allowing for automating layout without scripting or repeatedly fine tuning. Layout automation and flexibility do not have to be in contradiction!

This is a vendor session delivered by Stefan Freisler.

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Using technology to simplify export documentation

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Business West working with their IT partners i2i, have built upon their combined expertise in assisting companies to export and tackle the bureaucracy and paperwork associated with exporting. The platform creates the myriad of documents required via a single entry point and then enables these to be shared both up and down the supply chain.

The resulting award winning platform www.acorninteractive.co.uk is now assisting exporters across the globe and enables them to engage with a raft of related export services.

The team will outline how they identified the market opportunity, scoped and developed the technology and are now taking this innovative solution to the end users.

This session is delivered by James Monk and Penny Underwood.

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Common Technical Data

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This keynote presentation will describe the Common Technical Data Solution being introduced at Rolls-Royce. The aim of this plan is to optimize the development of technical publications across different business functions, and to coordinate the work of the technical authors involved in writing them. This promises to be a fascinating and exciting insight into technical communication on a grand scale.

This keynote presentation is delivered by Nigel Wright, with Steve Foster and Ian McGill.

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Building a team to support proposal production in a large organisation

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So, your organisation regularly churns out bids for technical equipment and services and your boss wants you to set up a team of specialist communicators to support this work. How do you decide what that team should look like? How do you plan, launch, develop, fine tune and finally manage that team in “steady state”?

In this session Fi will present several approaches to this challenge in large and complex organisations. She will illustrate these approaches with examples based on her experience building teams to support business and technical communications in the professional services, IT and telecommunications, and engineering sectors.

This session is delivered by Fi Parker.

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Communicating the Bristol innovation story

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Bristol is one of six Science Cities in England. The designation is there to attract inward investment, and encourage organic growth, in the technology and science sector. The challenge for Science City Bristol Limited is how to communicate with a disparate audience of business people, investors (both local and international), academics, funders and support organisations. This session will look at the approaches SCB is taking to try and reach these sectors and what success it is having. These include the use of social media, newsletters, networking events, video, websites, conferences and an innovative cluster map of technology-related businesses.

This session is delivered by Alastair Watson.

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

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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.

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Technical Writing in Energy and Resources: Risks and Opportunities

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Working as a technical writer on some energy and resources mega-projects, it is apparent that there is a potentially vast “undiscovered country” of opportunity for writers. An exploratory study was carried out, with the help of stakeholders at all levels, concerned with identifying and exploring the risks and opportunities associated with using a dedicated technical communication resource on engineering projects. One recurrent theme emerged – that of promoting technical communication as a profit centre. Furthermore, the risks identified were largely culturally predisposed and were perceived as being easily mitigated and/or massively outweighed by the benefits.

This presentation is delivered by Robert Illes.

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Creating instruction videos for using software – a case history

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This session takes you through our experiences of creating a set of short narrated videos (*.avi) to supplement a set of HTML Help pages required for a new-look item of Remsdaq software. The talk will be down-to-earth, covering the entire process including both its successes and the inevitable setbacks and problems encountered when one does something for the first time.

This session is delivered by Martin Block.

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Was this written by a cat on a keyboard? The useless assistance project

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Over a year ago Edward Smyda-Homa started a brave Felix Baumgartner-like, spiraling plunge through the Twitter-sphere. He created and maintains a Twitter account called Useless Assistance (@uselessassist), which contains retweets to remind organizations of the frustration and negative emotions that result from poorly prepared assistance.

This presentation is a light-hearted look at the poor assistance people are encountering and attempts to categorise the common gripes. How organizations are monitoring and responding to such negative assistance-related tweets will also be examined. It is hoped that the findings shared will trigger discussion on how quality issues in our trade can be addressed.

This session is delivered by Edward Smyda-Homa.

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McAfee: Our DITA journey towards collaborative authoring

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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.

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