Gold Sponsor TCUK 2016 – Semcon

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SEMCON

The world’s most efficient car. Revolutionary tidal power. Doubling production in the same plant. Documentation in nuclear power plants.

No challenges are too difficult for us at Semcon. We are an international technology company in engineering services and product information with 3,000 dedicated and highly skilled employees, who develop the future together with our customers.

Semcon has more than 30 years of experience in its chosen industries – automotive, life science, telecommunications, energy and other development- intensive industries.

Our services include all kinds of challenges within technology development such as product development, product information, quality, training and methodology development. We find flexible ways of working tailored to our assignments and customer needs and use our global resourcing capacity.

www.semcon.com

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Online booking for TCUK 2016 is now open

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The online booking for TCUK 2016 is now open. TCUK 2016 is taking place at the Wyboston Lakes Executive Centre between Cambridge and Milton Keynes, from the 13th to the 15th of September.

Wyboston Lakes aerial view

Early-bird prices are available from today until 30th June, and the early-bird all-inclusive residential package is £620 for members and £770 for non-members. These prices will rise to £680 and £830 respectively from 1st July.

The early-bird price for day registrations is £180 for members and £245 for non-members, rising to £210 and £275 respectively from 1st July.

We announce programme details in the coming days and weeks, so please bookmark www.technicalcommunicationuk.com and check back often. You can also keep up with our news on Twitter, Facebook, Lanyrd, and LinkedIn.

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Bronze Sponsor TCUK 2016 – PleaseTech

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PleaseTech logo

PleaseTech Ltd.

PleaseTech is a technology company specializing in collaborative document co-authoring and review software.

Whilst technical writing primarily involves the use of XML-based editing tools, documentation such as articles, case studies, educational content, manuals, specification, guides, contracts, proposals and more are created, updated and reviewed in formats including Microsoft Word and PDF.

Our flagship product, PleaseReview™, is a proven collaborative review and co-authoring solution for Microsoft® Word® and other document types including source code. It facilitates controlled, simultaneous and secure collaboration for the review and editing of documents.

Whilst document review and co-authoring is recognized as a critical business issue which consumes considerable resources across the organization, the basic problem remains: if you have a Microsoft Word document (or Excel, PDF, etc.) and need several people to review it, how do you do that in an efficient and controlled way? This is where PleaseReview adds value: it offers control, management and metrics to the review, accommodates both online and offline reviewers (supporting a mobile workforce) and enables secure collaboration with external partners. In addition, its extensive functionality is easy to learn and use, promoting efficient team work and happier reviewers.

In an environment where greater productivity and tighter deadlines require smarter processes, PleaseReview can help reduce review cycles by up to 65%, time spent in review meetings by 60% and delivers typical savings of 35% in document production costs.

PleaseTech has satisfied customers ranging from small consultancies to global organizations from multiple business sectors including Life Sciences, Defense, IT, Utilities and Government and across disciplines such as regulatory, proposals, software engineering, marketing, contract management, QA and more.

For more information come and see us in the exhibition area, contact us at info@pleasetech.com or visit our website www.pleasetech.com.

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The Novice Technical Communicator – Where does my journey begin

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This is the first in a series of articles based on our 2016 theme for TCUK: “From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator”.

Fountain pen and ink bottle resting on an open blank notebook with 2 closed pens lying next to the notebook

For a person entering the world of technical communication, this world may seem exciting and yet daunting. The role of a technical communicator is constantly evolving with the changes in technology and constantly presenting new challenges.

There are many avenues to be travelled upon – for example, you can choose writing, editing, illustration, designing or publishing. Regardless of the avenue you choose as a technical communicator, you need to be able to understand complex (technical) information and convey this to your audience in a meaningful and appropriate way.

On the job, you would work with a range of specialists – designers, engineers, technicians, marketers, product developers and publishers. You would need excellent communication skills to be able to deal with different types of personalities and extract the information you need from them.

The career opportunities in the field of technical communication are plenty. At this point, you will be asking yourself, where do I begin my journey as a technical communicator?

Here’s our take on how you can kickstart your career in technical communication.

What does technical communication involve?

Typically, technical communication involves creating documentation for technical processes, software programs and systems.

You could produce end-user content – from the user’s perspective – that provides useful information on the product functionality and usability, which helps to solve the user’s problem, answer their questions and meet their needs.

Your everyday work could involve creating new documents, updating or rewriting existing documentation, performing user research and presenting the information in the most appropriate manner. You could commission or illustrate photographs and diagrams, test materials and work with digital platforms for delivering and publishing content.

Other types of documents you could create include:

  • articles, case studies and white papers
  • educational content
  • product manuals and specifications
  • policies and procedures / standard operating procedures
  • API documentation
  • how-to guides
  • blog posts

The field of technical communication is moving beyond merely authoring classic documentation. Documenting what developers do is a growing area. Straddling the field of user experience while keeping one foot in technical communication is a popular choice. Technical communicators are expected to understand and utilise a variety of software programs, tools, methods and digital platforms that aid content creation.

Which industries need technical communicators?

You will make careful considerations about the industry you want to work in as a technical communicator.

Before you choose the industry you want to work in, firstly, decide what you want to write about and try to follow your passion.

There are many industries that require the skills of a technical communicator, such as:

  • aerospace, defence and manufacturing
  • architectural structure and engineering
  • digital technology
  • educational services
  • government agencies and organisations
  • information technology
  • telecommunications
  • scientific research labs
  • publishing agencies

Use the internet (or any available resources!) to research which local industries are recruiting technical communicators – you can widen or narrow your search based on your results.

Professional mentors and training

The most difficult part of embarking on a career is breaking into the field. We have highlighted a few steps to guide you.

Step one: Research the company you want to work for

Use online and offline resources to find out what you can about the company you would like to work for.

  • Website – Most companies have a website – a shop window – which gives you an insight into the company history, present and future. Use the website to understand what the company does. Learn about the company products – even write your own (product) article based on the information you have so far.
    Download (free) resources such as case studies and white papers to give you an idea of the type of content that is being written and the level of skills required to produce that type of content.
    Make note of the things you think you can improve on as you navigate the website. If asked at a later stage to share your thoughts, then you refer to these notes.
  • Social Media – Take a look at the social media channels the company uses to promote their brand and products. This will give you an insight into the way in which the company engages and interacts with its customers and audiences online.
  • Publications – Take a look at trade magazines or other publications where the company contributes content to or is featured in.
  • Contacts – Make a note of the persons responsible for producing technical content. You will find contact information such as an email address or social media profile available on the ‘Contact Us’ page of the company site. Always use the preferred method of contact when reaching out.

Step Two: Make contact and get a mentor

In step one, you collected a list of contacts you can approach.

Start off by introducing yourself and let them know who you are and what you are looking for. You could send them a copy of the article you wrote or other pieces of content that showcase your skills to generate interest.

This would give them an opportunity to learn something about you. If they are interested in your work, they will contact you and request you to either contribute to a project that suits your skills or guide you through the hiring process for a role at the company.

You may have to contact several technical communicators before you receive a response. But it’s worth your time – in the end you may just land your first role as a technical communicator.

Entering the field of technical communication is challenging, but there are professionals out there who can mentor and guide young professionals looking for a break.

Step Three: Memberships and Training

Become a member of a recognised technical communication organisation or institute.

This is a great way to meet professional technical communicators, join groups, attend events and find mentors and more contacts.

Many memberships offer discounted events, courses and workshops for you to attend.

The Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators is the largest (non-profit) body in the UK that represents the technical communication profession. The ISTC offers a range of professional communities, events and courses for its members. The ISTC has a mentoring programme.

Becoming a member of a professional organisation shows that you are proactive and curious about your field.

Here is a list of technical communication organisations you can consider joining:

Write your Tech Comm CV

Writing a CV for any profession is a tough task.

Being new in the field could mean that you may not have much experience. Use your CV as an opportunity to showcase your skill set and any relevant experience. For example:

  • Experience – If you have graduated from university – write a brief paragraph about a piece of course work you produced. Include skills that would be relevant to the role you will apply for – research, information gathering, use of imagery, and writing style used to produce course work.
    If you have your own blog or have written any articles or product reviews, then reference those in your CV. This could act as a portfolio of your work.
    If you were employed whilst you were a student then include your dates of employment and a brief sentence about your role.
  • Skills – List the software packages, methods and tools you used to produce your work with.

From writing the CV to choosing the right format for the content is perhaps the biggest hurdle. Take a look at these sample technical writing CVs to get an idea of how the CV should be formatted, and begin writing the content.

Your CV should read easily and follow a simple format as follows:

  • Top of CV – Name, address, contact details and social media profile – include a link to LinkedIn profile. Brief tag line of objective.
  • Body of CV – Work experiences till date – professional or voluntary. A list of skills, qualifications, certificates, and link to portfolio (if works are available online).
  • End of CV – Education.

The clarity of your CV should indicate the clarity you will bring to the job!

The cover letter for your CV should address the requirements posted in the job advertisement. If you are submitting an unsolicited CV, your cover letter should reflect the insights you gathered in step one.

Build your network online or offline

When building a new career, how you network with other professionals is key in the progression of your career.

There are many technical communication leaders and experts out there that you can connect with on social media or even meet at events. You can follow them for regular updates and even post a message to them when you see something of interest from them in your personal feed.

The internet is a fascinating way to connect with people. Set up your own professional social media profile on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and share your thoughts on the industry, join groups or communities and participate in discussions with other professionals.

Keep in touch with the people you meet along the way. You never know when an opportunity may arise and you could be contacted – because you took the time to connect with them.

Our next article will focus on the Expert Technical Communicator.

Written by: Vee Modha
Contribution by: Karen Mardahl

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TCUK16 Call for Proposals deadline extended to Thursday 7th April

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In response to requests we’ve received, the deadline for the Call for Proposals has been extended to Thursday 7th April 2016.

This year’s special focus is From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator.

We also welcome proposals on any topic that you feel will be of interest to technical communication professionals. Delegates at previous conferences have expressed interest in presentations on a wide variety of topics and a suggested list of topics may be found on the Call for Proposals page.

We have a series of articles by Andrew Lightheart that can provide help and inspiration in putting together your proposal. When you are ready, fill in our proposal submission form.

We look forward to working with you this year.

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Bronze Sponsor TCUK 2016 – Acrolinx

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Acrolinx logo

About Acrolinx

The Acrolinx platform helps the world’s greatest brands create amazing content: on-brand, on-target, and at scale. Built on an advanced linguistic analytics engine, Acrolinx is the only software platform that can actually “read” your content and guide writers to make it better. That’s why companies like Adobe, Boeing, Google, and Philips use Acrolinx to create content that’s more engaging, enjoyable, and impactful. Learn more at www.acrolinx.com.

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Platinum Sponsor TCUK 2016 – SCHEMA

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SCHEMA logo

SCHEMA – Complex Documents Made Easy!

SCHEMA Group was founded in 1995 in Nürnberg and today has around 100 employees. SCHEMA ST4 is an XML-based editing and content management system, offering extensive features for all aspects of the creation, management, translation, quality management, publication and distribution of product information of any kind. SCHEMA ST4’s scalability makes it suitable for small editing teams as well as for company-wide solutions for information logistics. SCHEMA ST4 can be used as a standard product or a customer-specific solution. With the SCHEMA Content Delivery Server, information can be distributed intelligently to all common platforms, independently of SCHEMA ST4.

Our products and solutions are successfully deployed across various branches of industry to simplify ‘complex documents,’ including technical documentation, software documentation and help systems, catalogs, labeling for pharmaceutical companies, training material, solutions for specialized publishers, contract and bid management. SCHEMA ST4 is based on Microsoft .NET technology with Windows and web clients, and can easily be integrated and deployed into modern IT landscapes, as it supports the entire bandwidth of documentation standards (XML, XSL:FO, DITA, etc.). SCHEMA ST4 offers a broad line-up of interfaces (XML editors, MS Office, Adobe CS & FrameMaker, SAP, etc.). SCHEMA is proud to be an active part of a network of renowned partners, as this also enables SCHEMA to offer specialized solutions for its customers.

Among the many customers already using solutions based on SCHEMA ST4 are: ABB, Agilent, Avaloq, Bosch, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bundesanzeiger, Carl Zeiss, Daimler, Deutsche Bundesbank, General Electric, Hewlett Packard, Lindauer DORNIER, MAN, Miele, Reifenhäuser, Roche Diagnostics, Schaeffler Gruppe, Siemens, SMS Siemag, Österreichische Bundesbahnen, Ottobock Healthcare, Philips, STOLL, Voith, Wolffkran and many more.

Further Information: www.schema.deSCHEMA blog in German / SCHEMA blog in English

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Silver Sponsor TCUK 2016 – 3di

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3di logo

3di Information Solutions Ltd.

“Complexity made clear”

3di has delivered technical communication and localization services to global companies, government organisations, and technology and software businesses since 2002. Our in-house team is based near Guildford. Quite a few of us are attending TCUK as delegates.

Our customers and suppliers love working with us and keep coming back. The people we work with day-to-day like our friendly and reliable approach and our focus on quality — we don’t let them down. The people who pay the bills like our competitive rates and our focus on efficient processes — we save them money.

Visit our stand at TCUK to:

  • discuss your work and the challenges you face
  • brief us about projects you have coming up
  • tell us about your availability to work with us and our customers

For more information visit our website www.3di-info.com.

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Platinum Sponsor TCUK 2016 – Capita TI

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Capita TI Logo

Capita TI

Capita Translation and Interpreting (Capita TI) is a leading provider of language services to both public and private organisations. We offer a wide range of professional translation and interpreting services, including website localisation, face-to-face interpreting, voiceover and subtitling, and multilingual SEO, in over 180 languages. Our experience has helped a diverse range of businesses and community groups to translate everything from websites and important documentation, to software and digital files, so that internal stakeholders and customers alike can understand the information they require, no matter what language they speak.

As we are part of Capita plc, a FTSE 100 organisation, we can offer extensive experience and resources, as well as being able to provide reliable end-to-end solutions. Our processes and capabilities are demonstrated by our ISO accreditations in information security; quality of management systems; and environmental management.

Capita Translation and Interpreting (Capita TI)

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Diamond Sponsor TCUK 2016 – Adobe

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adobe-tcs-logo

ADOBE BACKGROUND

Adobe revolutionizes how the world engages with ideas and information. Adobe’s award-winning software and technologies have set the standard for communication and collaboration for more than 25 years, bringing vital and engaging experiences to people across media and to every screen in their lives, at work and at play.

ADOBE TECH COMM GROUP

The business world is expanding rapidly amidst increased globalization, digitization and mobile device penetration. In this dynamic and evolving scenario, the technical content we will deliver has to be contextual, consumable and actionable – and easily available at the right place, at the right time and in the right amount. Hence, the ways in which the content needs to be authored, enriched, reviewed, managed, and delivered are also changing. This means that today’s technical communication tools need to support all the above requirements—while offering the highest return on investment, the lowest total cost of ownership, and the fastest go-to-market.

Adobe’s Technical Communication group delivers best-in-class tools and services that are aimed at facilitating the end -to-end process of creating ground-breaking content, publishing it seamlessly across media and devices, and achieving greater business success.

Adobe’s Technical Communication products include the Technical Communication Suite, FrameMaker, RoboHelp, FrameMaker Publishing Server, FrameMaker XML Author and RoboHelp Server.

Adobe TCS iconAdobe® Technical Communication Suite (2015 Release) is an indispensable toolkit for content developers, comprising five industry-leading tools for single-source authoring, content management and reuse, and multichannel publishing. Easily author bidirectional XML/DITA content with Adobe FrameMaker. Create training modules with Adobe Captivate and video presentations with Adobe Presenter. Collaborate seamlessly via multiplatform PDF-based reviews and integration with CMSs and cloud storage. Deliver dynamic content experiences across mobile devices, formats, and platforms, with Adobe RoboHelp and FrameMaker.

Adobe FrameMaker iconAdobe FrameMaker (2015 release) is a complete solution for bidirectional technical content. Publish natively across channels, mobile devices and formats, without any plug-ins. Author with best-in-class XML/DITA support using a simplified authoring environment. Collaborate seamlessly with subject matter experts, even on mobile devices. Manage content using out-of-the-box integration with leading CMSs and the cloud. Leverage the proven strengths of FrameMaker to handle long, complex documents.

Adobe RoboHelp iconAdobe RoboHelp (2015 release) empowers you to deliver engaging help, policy, and knowledge base content across mobile devices, formats, and platforms. Publish content as mobile apps, or in HTML5, EPUB 3, KF8, and MOBI. Help users find relevant content faster with dynamic content filters and contextual search results. Work more productively with a modern ribbon UI, customizable Quick Access toolbar, contextual tabs, and named conditional expressions.

Adobe RoboHelp Server iconAdobe RoboHelp Server 10 extends the capabilities of Adobe RoboHelp and Adobe FrameMaker. Merge multiple segments of Help content, including responsive HTML5 content, into a unified information system. Host it for anytime, anywhere, any device access. Get extensive analytics reports on content usage, and use the insights to optimize Help content. Manage user rights and security, and take advantage of simplified deployment and configuration. Control operations remotely with an intuitive UI.

Adobe FrameMaker XML Author iconAdobe FrameMaker XML Author (2015 release) enables you to easily create bidirectional XML content. Author with an intuitive user interface, multiple views, MathML equation support, XSLT and XPath, and new DITA 1.3 support. Manage content using out-of-the-box integration with leading CMSs and Dropbox. Empower your subject matter experts to create valid XML content without knowing XML using the simplified XML authoring environment. Collaborate seamlessly using PDF-based reviews, even on mobile devices.

Adobe FrameMaker Publishing Server iconAdobe FrameMaker Publishing Server (2015 release) is an enterprise software to automate multichannel, multidevice publishing. Allow multiple users to access publishing services remotely, and manage your publishing setup with a comprehensive dashboard. Output bidirectional content in multiple formats: HTML5, WebHelp, EPUB, KF8, MOBI, PDF, and CHM, and as mobile apps. Leverage out-of-the-box support for leading CMSs, or use the web APIs to smoothly integrate with other CMSs.

Adobe.com

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Looking back at TCUK 2015

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The Technical Communication UK (TCUK) 2015 was in Scotland for the very first time. TCUK 2015 took place on 29th and 30th September and 1st October, at the Beardmore Hotel and Conference Centre, at Dalmuir in Clydebank, just outside Glasgow.

The special focus was: Breaking the Boundaries of Technical Communication.

Magda Caloian has created some video clips of her experience at TCUK 2015:



Your comments on TCUK 2015

  • It was a good variety of material and speakers.
  • Very open and friendly atmosphere. Nice with the focus on documenting software.
  • It was very enjoyable to meet up with friends and colleagues again and the whole atmosphere was very happy and lively.
  • Well-run, very friendly, great positive atmosphere. I was really pleased to see there was a code of conduct.
  • Excellent work, as usual, by the production team.
  • Excellent opportunity to be updated and get ideas.
  • For a conference planned and executed by volunteers, it was outstanding.
  • Keynote speakers were a highlight for me, very inspiring. Pre-dinner sticks and kicks band were also very entertaining.
  • It was a great conference! I got so much input and have a lot of ideas. I’m looking forward to next year.
  • It was a pleasure attending and speaking at TCUK again, sharing experience with delegates and experts, covering the event on Twitter and having fun for those three days. Thank you!
  • I really enjoyed it. Thank you.

CJ Walker posted daily reviews of the conference on Storify:

Photos

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TCUK15 Speaker – Carol Leahy to present on “Does your gender really make you a better communicator?”

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Carol Leahy will be presenting on “Does your gender really make you a better communicator?”

Carol Leahy

Historically, women are seen as better communicators compared to men yet the field of technical communication is pre-dominantly male. Why is this? Are males really better at communicating technical information?

This presentation will discuss gender within the technical communications field and if it really plays a role in making you a good or bad communicator. It will delve into the wider question of the need for more women in science and technology and how technical communicators, regardless of gender, can address this question and potentially build awareness of technical communications to the next generation.

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Bronze Sponsor TCUK 2015 – Fluid Topics

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Fluid Topics logo

Antidot is proud to introduce Fluid Topics, its new dynamic content publishing solution, transforming the way users benefit from your technical documentation.

Break the bounds of static content, empower users and develop actionable insights with Fluid Topics dynamic publishing. Our solution gives users the power to find and navigate technical information from any source on any device. By combining it from a variety of content silos, you create a unified access point and enhance customer support. Fluid Topics gives life to digital information so that your company, partners and users are free to dynamically reuse, shape and share the content they need whenever they need it.

Fluid Topics also gives you the tools to examine how people actually use your documentation. Now you know what they look for and what you should focus on.

Since 1999, Antidot has helped more than 150 clients in the areas of publishing, e-commerce, healthcare, corporate portals and intranets.

www.fluidtopics.com

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TCUK15 Speaker – Mike Unwalla to present on “Patterns in language for part-of-speech disambiguation”

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Mike Unwalla will be presenting on “Patterns in language for part-of-speech disambiguation”.

Mike Unwalla

In the ASD-STE100 specification, some words are approved for only one part of speech. For example, the word ‘oil’ is approved as a noun, but it is not approved as a verb.

An effective term checker gives a warning only if ‘oil’ is a verb:
Correct, no warning: The oil was dirty.
Incorrect, warning: When you oil the bearing, you must…

How can software ‘know’ whether ‘oil’ is a noun or a verb?

Short answer: In the structure ARTICLE+X+BE, X is a noun.

Mike shows how software can use sets of simple patterns to identify the part of speech that a word has.

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TCUK15 Speaker – Berry Braster to present on “Visual Search and Augmented Reality as part of your content strategy”

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Berry Braster will be presenting on “Visual Search and Augmented Reality as part of your content strategy”.

Berry Braster

For many businesses, aftermarket service and parts operations are very profitable; the service business is growing twice the rate of the average business unit. However, the service business is also very costly if we cannot provide our end users with the content they actually need, wherever and wherever they are. A good content strategy enhances the service information process, but when you combine it with developments like augmented reality and visual search you will truly see the improvements.

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Jörg Plöger, of TCUK15 sponsor SCHEMA, gives a vendor presentation on “Helping Online-Help – what does next generation HTMLHelp look like?”

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Jörg Plöger, of TCUK15 sponsor SCHEMA, will be giving a vendor presentation on “Helping Online-Help – what does next generation HTMLHelp look like?”

JP
Jörg Plöger

Common online help formats (HTML Help, Java Help and Eclipse Help) look more and more old-fashioned. Although HTML Help is the only Microsoft help platform available for general application help, it is in maintenance mode. This means no new features are expected for either the runtime or the compiler.

Many software houses make software manuals only available online. Besides having up-to-date content all the time, this gives users a huge advantage. Well-established web technologies for the collection and analysis of feedback can be used.

Yet local online help still shines because of its strong interaction with the application and its offline availability.

The talk will show how you can overcome HTML Help and build a perfect online help system with HTML 5 and open source components that combines the advantages of both worlds.

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Frazer Bain, of TCUK15 sponsor Acrolinx, gives a vendor presentation on “Five Content Controversies”

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Frazer Bain, of TCUK15 sponsor Acrolinx, will be giving a vendor presentation on “Five Content Controversies”.

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Frazer Bain – photo

Join Acrolinx’s Country Manager UK, Frazer Bain as he discusses five of the biggest, ugliest, and complex challenges facing content professionals today.
This high-engaging session will go deep on the most controversial topics facing every content professional including:

  • Does everyone work for marketing now?
  • How to expand content marketing to your entire organization?
  • Does the customer journey have a finish line?
  • Mythbusting and the role of content throughout the sales funnel.
  • Does tone matter? How to lighten up without losing control.
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TCUK15 Speaker – George Lewis to present on “Liberating Tech Comm: How moving to agile empowers technical authors (case study)”

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George Lewis will be presenting on “Liberating Tech Comm: How moving to agile empowers technical authors (case study)”

George Lewis

We hear those doubters all the time: “Quality documentation can’t be written in agile”, “We technical writers are not appreciated”, “We don’t have the budget to do that”.

I’d like to share how at doc-department we’ve dispelled these myths by using the information and advice we learned at the TCUK, through the ISTC and from the progressive tech comm community, willing to share their knowledge.

I shall share how we applied the lessons we learned in areas such as content strategy, agile writing, and DITA to address common issues; and in the process create a complete product information platform that enables us to deliver content to many areas of a business within the constraints of an agile development cycle.

And all of this for a fraction of the cost commonly quoted.

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TCUK15 Speaker – Rhyne Armstrong to present on “Get Out of Your Office: Conducting Effective Site Visits”

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Rhyne Armstrong will be presenting on “Get Out of Your Office: Conducting Effective Site Visits”.

Rhyne Armstrong

The day has come when we are no longer bound a desk when it comes to learning about our customers and clients. Whether you work for yourself or an organization, getting out of the office and meeting with customers offers valuable insight to learning how solutions are deployed, how user-assistance is used, and how your customers work.

In this session, we will discuss:

  • Building a business case for conducting visits.
  • Planning for a successful visit.
  • Tips you can use to make sure you get the most out of the time you spend with your clients.

How your visit can turn into much more than info to help you improve your content.

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TCUK15 Speaker – Zsuzsa Nagy to present on “Beyond instructions: reference-heavy documentation”

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Zsuzsa Nagy will be presenting on “Beyond instructions: reference-heavy documentation”.

Zsuzsa Nagy

This talk discusses some challenges of working in DITA with only few or no task topics.

  • Planning: Is it useful to use a short, task-heavy but generic document as the backbone of a document set if 90+% of the topics are reference topics?
  • Structure of the deliverable: You have 100+ reference topics at the same level. Do you show all of them in the table of content?
  • Workflow: We can reuse engineering content. It is in XML but not in DITA. How do we single-source and track version history for such content in our content base?
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TCUK15 Speaker – John Kearney to present on “Unpacking and applying the Tech Comms Toolbox”

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John Kearney will be presenting on “Unpacking and applying the Tech Comms Toolbox”.

John Kearney

Content is not the sole domain of the Technical Communicator. Subject Matter Experts, Marketing Execs, Project Managers, Business Analysts, Admin Personnel… all these and more can and will create technical content to be consumed by others.

However, as these professionals often lack the specific skills to be found in the Technical Communication Toolbox, they often face massive content quality and management challenges. This is why we can and should be seen as more than writers of manuals.

During my career I’ve been lucky enough to work extensively outside the traditional parameters of Technical Communication. Among other activities, I’ve written functional design specifications, researched new technologies, created marketing collateral, run RFIs, edited bid documentation, designed project management methodologies. All these things and more are possible once we can understand and apply our specific set of skills.

I’d like to discuss what I think are the critical components of our toolbox, and how we can all apply these to break out of our traditional boundaries. In doing so, I’ll share with you some of my successes, my failures, and the lessons I’ve learned; beginning with my time in the Civil Service, and right the way through to my present career as a Tech Comms consultant in Cambridge.

As an added bonus, I’ll be drawing on examples of effective and ineffective user assistance from my hobbies, specifically archery and live-action roleplaying!

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TCUK15 speakers – Fi Parker and Martin Clark to give a workshop on “The Bid Manager and the Technical Communicator: Whose line is it anyway?”

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Fi Parker and Martin Clark will give a workshop on “The Bid Manager and the Technical Communicator: Whose line is it anyway?”.

Fi Parker

The relationship between the Bid Manager and the Bid Writer is critical to the success of most bids. To explore this relationship, Fi and Martin will lead delegates on a tour of the bid life cycle, stopping at strategic points to discuss the position of these two professionals, their goals, needs and wants. As the tour progresses, delegates will develop a strategy for bid content development that will help them stand out amongst the crowd. They will also evaluate and adapt some of the tools bid managers and technical communicators use to help them maintain accuracy, speed and quality of work under pressure.

This workshop will benefit technical communicators interested in establishing themselves in the relatively lucrative world of bid writing. It will be of particular interest to those who would like to know what it’s like to work in a team on large and complex bids.

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TCUK15 speaker – Farhad Patel to present on “Dynamic Content Publishing”

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Farhad Patel will be presenting on “Dynamic Content Publishing”-

Farha Patel

In today’s culture of instant gratification our customers prefer receiving small pieces of information, exactly what they need, when they need it. In order to keep up with customer expectations the Huawei documentation team planned and implemented a dynamic publishing solution to allow our customers to quickly locate, assemble and save personalized content. This session will cover important aspects of the information development process such as audience task analysis, user personas, use cases, reuse strategy, taxonomy and metadata strategy. The session will also demonstrate Huawei’s Dynamic Content Publishing solution showing its key features and functionality.

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TCUK15 Speaker – Rachel Johnston to present on “Business Case, Budget and Beyond – Kicking off a Successful Project”

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Rachel Johnston will be presenting on “Business Case, Budget and Beyond – Kicking off a Successful Project”.

Rachel Johnston

You have an idea for a content project. What happens next?

A content-related business case is an exercise in education more than anything else:

  • Self-education: is your idea feasible? Are the benefits as clear as you think?
  • Peer education: what change can colleagues expect and how will it affect them?
  • Management education: what is the cost of change, versus maintaining the status quo?

This presentation explains why a business case is about more than pie charts and projections, and goes to the heart of the matter — helping decision makers realise the value of content.

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TCUK15 Speaker – Mattias Sander to present on “Keep It Lean: manage projects using Kanban TOCs”

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Mattias Sander will be presenting on “Keep It Lean: manage projects using Kanban TOCs”.

Mattias Sander

Do you ever feel like you’re spending too much time on administration? Do you want to work smarter to achieve “mind like water”? Do you want to achieve flow by reducing waste? In this session you will learn how to apply some practical methods from Lean Manufacturing in the world of Technical Communication. Specifically you will learn how to use the Kanban TOC method, and how it helps you enable growth, reduce cost, and mitigate risk.

In the short term, the Kanban TOC method reduces your administration effort, and in the long term, it helps you identify process improvements to maximize value for both your organization and your customers.

You will learn:

  • Practical tips & tricks from the world of Lean Manufacturing
  • How to use the Kanban TOC method
  • How to set up and use a Kanban TOC in MadCap Flare
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TCUK15 Speakers – Karen Mardahl and John Kearney to give a workshop on “Keeping up with life! Or, how to put ‘Getting Things Done’ into practice”

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Karen Mardahl and John Kearney will give a workshop on “Keeping up with life! Or, how to put ‘Getting Things Done’ into practice”

John Kearney

Perhaps you have the perfect method to manage your work and obligations, but can it cope with the unexpected or help you plan for the future? New boss, clients or management practices. Illness. Job loss. Stress. Changing career or job advancement. Learning new skills in addition to doing your current job.

Karen and John will introduce the concept of getting things done (GTD) as it applies to today’s technical communicator. Then, participants will have hands-on activities (also pre-conference!) to start making some getting-things-done tweaks to their routines, both at work and at home. Takeaways include

  • Testing your need for GTD
  • Exercises to understand the most important concept of “Next Action” and the concept of “Closing the Loop”
  • Demo of tools that support GTD
  • GTD Tips and tricks
  • The assurance that “your way” is still the best, especially after it’s GTD-charged!
Karen Mardahl
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TCUK15 Speaker – Marjorie Jones to present on “Source Control for Technical Communicators”

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Marjorie Jones will be presenting on “Source Control for Technical Communicators”.

Marjorie Jones

Software engineers have long used source control to manage the complexity of their source files. Do technical communicators need it? What advantages does it bring?

This session describes the features of source control and the benefits for technical communicators. You will learn how it can help manage your documentation files and how to use it effectively. You will also learn about some common source control tools.

This session will be useful if you already use source control and want a better understanding, or if you are thinking about using it and want to know more before deciding.

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TCUK15 Speaker – Nils Bier to present on “DocOps – Agile Content Development in Practice”

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Nils Bier will be presenting on “DocOps – Agile Content Development in Practice”.

Nils Bier

The way technical communicators work and collaborate with stakeholders is changing. Software industries – and more and more other organizations – are finally breaking up their knowledge silos. Their goal is to work in a more collaborative way of creating, updating and extending technical content. The interdisciplinary DocOps approach affects culture, processes, and content platforms. It’s putting everyone who’s involved literally ‘on the same page’.

In this presentation, you’ll learn how DocOps can be implemented successfully, by bringing technical communicators, service, support, and developers together. Let’s embrace DocOps to manage technical content more efficiently, to continuously improve content quality and to increase customer value.

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TCUK15 Speaker – Bridget Khursheed to present on “Developing (unsupported) support”

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Bridget Khursheed will be presenting on “Developing (unsupported) support”.

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Bridget Khursheed

As the KAL RTM, a new concept cashless cash machine, moves from prototype to production – we need to create a complete support package for its technical teams. But can online training and documentation solutions cut it when our partners deploy in remote destinations including Australian outback service stations, Filipino diveshops, and local stores in developing countries? Technicians will have no reliable internet connection and at times not even a phone signal.

Any support delivered has to stand up for itself.

Join Bridget Khursheed on a real life journey into extreme support documentation.

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TCUK15 Speaker – Doug Dennis to present on “Promote, Innovate, Repeat: maintaining documentation quality throughout organisational change”

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Doug Dennis will be presenting on “Promote, Innovate, Repeat: maintaining documentation quality throughout organisational change”.

Doug Dennis

Many technical writers experience sudden, sometimes unsettling organisational change which affects their work and that of their associated teams. You might find yourself as part of a larger documentation team having to adapt to unfamiliar processes and tools, or placed under the spotlight as the sole technical writer in your organisation.

As technical writer or documentation manager, how do we make ourselves and our teams resilient and flexible in the face of organisational change?

How can we cope when our company is acquired, merged or expanded?

In this presentation we’ll discuss how promoting your team correctly, aligning them within the organisation and finding engineering pain points are some of the key factors to ensure success.
We’ll also explore some of the challenges and opportunities of moving through multiple incarnations of a company, coping with change and how to keep your documentation set coherent throughout this time.

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TCUK15 Speaker – Ferry Vermeulen to present on “US regulations on instructions for use”

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Ferry Vermeulen will be presenting on “US regulations on instructions for use”.

Ferry Vermeulen

In the EU, a manufacturer can use European harmonized standards to comply with CE-directives and accordingly affix the CE marking. Although there are many similarities, the process of compliance in the US is slightly different from the process of EU compliance. These differences have effect on the instructions for use that accompany a product. When exporting from the EU to the US, the differences should be taken into account, so also the instructions comply with all laws and product liability will be minimized.

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TCUK15 Speaker – Neil Perlin to present on “Preparing Legacy Help Projects for Responsive Design”

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Neil Perlin will be presenting on “Preparing Legacy Help Projects for Responsive Design”.

Neil Perlin

Do you want to make legacy projects responsive, only to find that legacy writing and coding makes it difficult to convert to responsive design. What’s the solution? This session looks at:

  • Responsive design’s technologies – relative sizing, fluid grids, and media queries.
  • Legacy issues – local formatting, image styles, hand-formatted tables, and more.
  • New issues – selecting images for different resolutions, srcset, and “movie” issues.
  • The effect on writing and the “mobile first” philosophy.

The session is tool-independent but touches on how Flare and RoboHelp handle many tasks through the GUI. You’ll leave better prepared to convert legacy projects to responsive design.

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TCUK15 Speaker – Neil Perlin to give a workshop on “Creating Mobile Apps without Programming – A New Opportunity for Technical Communicators?”

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Neil Perlin will give a workshop on “Creating Mobile Apps without Programming – A New Opportunity for Technical Communicators?”.

Neil Perlin

Help and web authoring once required programming knowledge until WYSIWYG tools emerged and let technical communicators create help and web sites. App development is now following the same path. WYSIWYG app tools now let technical communicators create apps. Is this a new opportunity for us?

This workshop introduces the mobile app space. We’ll look at types of apps that technical communicators might create. We’ll then create a simple app with no programming, using a tool called ViziApps. You’ll see how to add pages, navigation, email, and other features. You’ll be able to run the finished app on your phone in preview mode, without the app’s being published. You’ll leave with a sense of the app market, tools, design concepts, and a working app to demo.

Note – This workshop is a demonstration, but Neil will provide instructions for attendees who want to follow along and create the app on their laptops.

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Looking back at TCUK 2014

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TCUK 2014 took place 16th-18th September 2014, in Brighton. Delegates could choose from a wide range of presentation topics, including content development and content delivery, the challenges of mobile documentation, and the opportunities that exist in structured authoring. The special focus was “Technical Content in the Age of Social Media”.

CJ Walker posted daily reviews of the conference on Storify:

Thanks to everyone who participated in TCUK 2014 as a sponsor, speaker or delegate for helping to make it such a great event!

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