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API workshop video + audio + slides + workshop files from TC Camp - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 16:01
I recently gave an API workshop at the TC Camp Unconference last weekend in Santa Clara, California. This post includes a video recording of my presentation, along with slides, audio, and workshop files. I actually prepared four separate slide decks for the workshop, but only used 2 and a half of them. I don’t know Continue Reading » (more)

Transferring ODT files between programs

Core Dump 2.0 - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 04:36

TechRepublic looks at how well OpenOffice ODF files transfer between Google Docs and Microsoft Word. As you might expect, there are issues, although nothing that couldn’t quickly be cleaned up, at least for short documents.

Fortunately, Google re-enabled support for ODF in December 2014. That means you can leverage the collaborative capabilities of Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, then export your completed work to a file in an open, non-proprietary format. (more)

Reinventing the table of contents - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 15:44
I’ve been exploring different ways to create a table of contents (TOC). Traditionally, user guides have a long TOC in the left column of each page. This works all right when you have about 50 pages, but when you scale up the doc set to 500 pages, the TOC becomes a bulky, unusable mess. For Continue Reading » (more)

DITA 1.3 overview

Scriptorium blog - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 08:30

Robert Anderson, one of the DITA architects, compared the transition from DITA 1.1 to DITA 1.2 to the difference between having a couple of drinks with friends and a huge party. The DITA 1.2 specification introduced broad changes in the … Continue reading →

The post DITA 1.3 overview appeared first on Scriptorium Publishing.


Another Cherryleaf video interview – John McNamara (IBM)

Cherryleaf Technical Authors blog - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 06:56
Here’s our Interview with John McNamara of IBM, on what it’s like to be a technical communicator:

[[ For the full article, see]] (more)

Unexpected Uses for Conditional Text

Core Dump 2.0 - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 04:39

I use conditional text a lot in my documents, both in FrameMaker, which has had the feature built in since its inception, and in Word, with aid of SmartDocs or WebWorks ePublisher. There are obvious reasons for using conditional text; for example, creating multiple documents that apply to different versions of a product. Less obvious ones include putting notes in a document about content that might need special attention; for example, something that might need to be reviewed by a specific developer before inclusion.

In (more)

Talking of technical communicators who write books

ffeathers - a technical writer's blog - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 16:04

Many technical writers do other types of writing too. This week I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting one of them in person. Cynthia Chin-Lee is a manager in information development at Oracle, and also the author of a number of books. She made me a present of two of them – such a generous gesture.

One of the books Cynthia gave me is Amelia to Zora, Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World. Cynthia is the author, and the illustrations are by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy.


My phone is now a slide rule

Core Dump 2.0 - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 10:13

Earlier this week I was thinking about all the different things my Samsung smart phone could do. Not counting pure Internet applications like IMDB or Cineplex, I came up with about thirty. Now I can add another one to the list – my phone is now a slide rule.

A slide rule? What’s that, some of my younger readers may be asking. Wikipedia has a good, detailed explanation:

The slide rule, also known colloquially in the United (more)

API explorers – play with a REST API the easy way

ffeathers - a technical writer's blog - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 21:07

To communicate with a REST API (or other web service API), you need to construct a request, send it over HTTP or HTTPS, then receive and parse the response. When creating an app, you do all that with code. But what if you just want to take a look around the API to see what it offers, before diving into the code? API explorers are your friend.

I’ve been putting together some information for a workshop on API technical writing. It’s been a rewarding exercise, because it’s made me think in a structured, educational way about what I do every day. A section of the works (more)

#MIN70 Recap

Writer in the Think of It - Fri, 01/23/2015 - 16:13
The latest Mass Innovation Night (#MIN70) featured the usual diversity of products, a wonderful host, longtime MIN attendees and first time MIN attendees, and some very expert experts in the Experts Corner. Big thanks go to IBM Cambridge for hosting -- nice food spread too.

The common threads running through the diverse products seemed to be social, location, and health.
The Crowd BuildsI enjoyed talking with Bob from  (more)

Moving ebooks between devices

Core Dump 2.0 - Fri, 01/23/2015 - 04:05

If you own an ereader or tablet, you may decide that you want to upgrade or change your system – perhaps to move from a Nook to a Kobo or a Kobo to an Apple tablet. Even though these devices all nominally use EPUB as the base format, the DRM (Digital Rights Management) software they use to prevent piracy makes this task difficult, and potentially impossible.

This ABC news article explores some of the options.


What if Ebola becomes endemic?

Core Dump 2.0 - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 04:43

Efforts to stamp out the Ebola outbreak in Africa have been remarkably successful. Despite the fact that almost 10,000 people have died, it could have been much, much worse. But it’s now almost a year since the outbreak started and it’s not contained by any means. What happens if Ebola can’t be completely eradicated, and keeps flaring up in different places, or worse, spreads to other, more populated countries?  Discover looks at this disquieting scenario.

Th (more)

Google invests in SpaceX

Core Dump 2.0 - Wed, 01/21/2015 - 19:39

Google has made a major investment – $1 billion dollars – in SpaceX. They’ll get a 10 percent ownership stake in the company. Google apparently wants to put up a network of satellites that could bring Internet services to almost anywhere in the world. They may also be planning to launch Earth observation satellites to improve the quality of the imagery in Google Earth. I like this news – a lot.


Implementing ScrollSpy with Jekyll to auto-build a table of contents - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 15:41
I mentioned in a post last week that I’m experimenting with a Jekyll prototype for technical documentation. I stumbled upon one of the coolest and most interesting topics a few days ago while integrating “ScrollSpy” on Jekyll. ScrollSpy is a dynamic feature that “spys” on the headings as you scroll past them and dynamically highlights Continue Reading » (more)

XML overview for executives

Scriptorium blog - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 11:13

Over the past year or two, our typical XML customer has changed. Until recently, most XML publishing efforts were driven by marketing communications, technical publications, or IT, usually by a technical expert. But today’s customer is much more likely to … Continue reading →

The post XML overview for executives appeared first on Scriptorium Publi (more)

Day in the life of a technical communicator – Diana Logan (Citrix)

Cherryleaf Technical Authors blog - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 10:42
Here’s our Interview with Diana Logan MISTC of Citrix Systems, on what it’s like to be a technical communicator.

[[ For the full article, see]] (more)

The future of house building

Core Dump 2.0 - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 04:53

A company in China has used 3D printing technology to build a mansion and a 6-storey apartment building. The mansion wouldn’t look out of place in an upscale Toronto neighbourhood. The article doesn’t go into a lot of detail on how they handle things like plumbing and wiring, but the 3D printing technique certainly seems capable of handling the structural elements.

The second trick up their sleeve is the printer used to build the h (more)

Moving from passive to reactive documentation — recording of presentation by Greg Koberger, founder - Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:51
The following is a recording of a presentation about passive versus reactive documentation by Greg Koberger, developer and designer for, a slick new REST API documentation tool. Greg gave this presentation at the STC Silicon Valley chapter meeting on January 12, 2015 in Santa Clara, California. (He gave a similar presentation to a Write Continue Reading » (more)

Teaching non-readers to read

Cherryleaf Technical Authors blog - Mon, 01/19/2015 - 09:42
Cherryleaf has been working on a project which shows people how to teach non-readers to read. We’ve been working with Elizabeth Ainley, who has written a book, go for it!, which has been...

[[ For the full article, see]] (more)

Mylyn WikiText looks interesting

Core Dump 2.0 - Mon, 01/19/2015 - 04:04

I came across a mention of Mylyn WikiText on the dita-users mailing list the other day and had a quick browse through the web site. It looks like it might be useful for me at work as it can read TWiki format, which is the wiki format we’re currently using. I know that some of our development teams are using Eclipse so I may be able to get this installed to test.

Mylyn WikiText provides lightweight markup (wiki) parsing, editing and display capabilities to the Eclipse platform and Mylyn. Mylyn WikiText can also (more)