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Leveraging multiple skills - Interview with Matt Lorenzi, Technical Writer / Illustrator

HelpScribe - 3 hours 1 min ago

Technical writers often talk about the need to wear many hats in order to complete their projects. In today’s interview, we chat with Matt Lorenzi, a Technical Writer / Illustrator with a keen sense of how to leverage multiple skill sets and turn them into a career. So grab yourself a fresh cup of coffee and enjoy the discussion.

Now, on with the questions!

Q: Many people in the field focus on either technical writing or illustration. (more)

Chaos Manor Reviews is back

Core Dump 2.0 - 5 hours 43 min ago

Jerry Pournelle has resumed publishing his computer review column, Chaos Manor Reviews, which was the successor to his influential Byte Magazine column. It’s been on hiatus for about three years, while he recovered from radiation therapy to treat a brain tumour. He’ll still be writing a monthly column, but it’ll be published in weekly installments.

Pournelle has been writing about computers for more than 30 years which brings a perspective to his column that many younger reviewers lack. While I don’t agree with his p (more)

Using collapsible sections to bring tasks and concepts together (DITA) - 6 hours 52 min ago

Last week I showed how to integrate a sliding side panel into OxygenXML’s webhelp output. In this post, I show you how to integrate collapsible show/hide sections. As before, I’m using DITA as the structured content, which adds another element of complexity to the setup.


For a demo of the show/hide functionality, see Show/Hide Demo.


Content strategy burdens: cost-shifting

Scriptorium blog - 9 hours 31 min ago

In assessing an organization’s requirements, it’s important to identify content strategy burdens. That is, what practices or processes impose burdens on the organization? A content strategy burden might be an external cost, such as additional translation expense, or it might … Continue reading →

The post Content strategy burdens: cost-shifting appeared first on (more)

TCUK 2014 in brief

Firehead - 10 hours 59 min ago
So last week was mostly spent following the annual Technical Communication UK event and posting daily reviews of #TCUK14 on our Storify. TCUK is the biggest tech comm conference in the UK calendar, and this year was held in Brighton from 16-18 September. The … Continue reading →

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]] (more)

Video of Technical Communications UK 2014 conference

Cherryleaf Technical Authors blog - 13 hours 48 min ago
I’ve uploaded a video onto YouTube that I put together about the TCUK14 conference. As I’ve just taken over the role on the Institute for Scientific and Technical Communicators (ISTC)...

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

“Bad information is Marketing’s fault problem. Good information is Tech Comms’ specialty. Let’s do the maths.”

Cherryleaf Technical Authors blog - 14 hours 27 min ago
The quotation in the title is from Roger Hart’s presentation at last week’s TCUK14 conference. Roger is a product marketing manager who spent a few years as a Technical Author. In his...

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

The great 1952 space program

Core Dump 2.0 - Sun, 09/21/2014 - 09:59

Here’s a largely forgotten piece of space exploration history. In 1952, the magazine Colliers assembled a panel of experts to develop a plan for the exploration of space, including trips to the moon and Mars. By modern standards, it was incredibly grandiose, and it probably wouldn’t have been practical, but it was certainly inspirational.

io9 has an overview of the series along with some of the wonderful illustrations. Horizons, the newsletter of the Ho (more)

Foreword to Developing User Assistance for Mobile Apps, 2nd Edition - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 15:34

Developing User Assistance for Mobile Apps, 2nd Edition, by Joe Welinske

Joe Welinske just published his second edition of Developing Mobile User Assistance.

Although it’s the second edition, 300 of the 400 pages are new, making it mostly a new book. If you’re doing an (more)

Microsoft moves away from “robot speak” in its user documentation

Cherryleaf Technical Authors blog - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 10:18
One of the highlights from the Technical Communications UK 2014 conference was the keynote presentation from Microsoft’s Doug Kim. Doug is Senior Managing Editor for, and leads...

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

Train to be a technical writer with Firehead

Firehead - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 13:00
So you wanna be a technical author? Or perhaps you’ve been assigned to write an instruction guide for one of your company’s products? As a specialist recruiter in digital communication across the northern hemisphere, Firehead has teamed up with a fantastic … Continue reading →

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U.S. to have two new manned spacecraft

Core Dump 2.0 - Tue, 09/16/2014 - 18:00

NASA has finally picked the companies that will build capsules to carry astronauts to the International Space Station. Both Boeing and SpaceX have been selected. Having two different vehicles (and launchers) is a good thing.

After a four-year competition, NASA has tapped the commerical spaceflight companies SpaceX and Boeing to launch astronauts to the Internatio (more)

Adding code comments through a sliding jQuery Sidr panel (DITA) - Tue, 09/16/2014 - 17:56

If you write developer documentation, you know that developers prefer code samples to narrative instruction. The beauty of code samples is that they provide context at a glance. You can see where variables should be declared, functions called, objects initialized, and so forth — all by just looking at the code. Trying to describe the same content narratively just doesn’t connect with users.

The problem is, you can only pepper the code with brief 1-2 line comments as instruction to users. These short signposts might be fine for advanced users, but for those times when you need mor (more)

Content without a face: anonymity, egos, and corporate content

Scriptorium blog - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 09:15

The novels of Italian author Elena Ferrante are getting a lot of attention, but “Elena Ferrante” doesn’t actually exist. The writer behind the pen name prefers anonymity and shies away from publicity. Creators of corporate content should take a few … Continue reading →

The post Content without a face: anonymity, egos, and corporate content (more)

Why “What are good and bad examples of technical writing?” is a difficult question to answer

Cherryleaf Technical Authors blog - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 04:18
There’s an interesting discussion thread in the ISTC’s discussion forum regarding good and bad examples of technical writing. Incoming ISTC President Alison Peck has been asked by a...

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

More worries about Ebola

Core Dump 2.0 - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 18:44

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa continues to spread with no signs it is slowing down – indeed, just the opposite. Epidemiologists are beginning to get worried – seriously worried.

Some may ask why the United States should play this role. Well, no one country is doing enough. We have the expertise and the personnel to tackle this chall (more)

Entrepreneurship for All Summer Accelerator Awards Recap

Writer in the Think of It - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 20:39
A Logo and a Mission Statement in OneTuesday night's celebration of the summer accelerator program participants was also the official announcement of the name change from Merrimack Valley Sandbox to Entrepreneurship for All so it was a doubly exciting event. The product showcase was a great opportunity to catch up with all the finalists, most of whom I have seen at more than one pitch contest or event. I'm truly impressed with how all of the finalists have benefited from t (more)

Some info on API technical writing

Core Dump 2.0 - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 19:00

Documenting APIs (application programming interfaces) is one of the most difficult tasks for technical writers. But if you have the talent and some programming knowledge, it can be rewarding, both intellectually and financially. Writers who can document code are in high demand and are paid at the high end of the scale.

Sarah Maddox recently gave a talk about documenting APIs to the STC Silicon Valley chapter. She’s posted a lot the material from that talk online alo (more)

New tech comm, content strategy and DITA training courses launched to fill skills gap

Firehead - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 06:00
Want to improve your digital knowledge – and ultimately your career prospects and pay? Employers are crying out for talent to fill the growing digital skills gap. That’s why we’re inviting you back to school with Firehead this autumn to get e-learning in your own field. We are … Continue reading →

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STC Intercom Issue Entirely Dedicated to API Documentation - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 13:13

The September issue of the STC Intercom is entirely dedicated to API documentation. I had the opportunity to act as guest editor for this issue. As guest editor, I helped select the topics, find the writers, and did some editing on the articles. I also wrote a foreword to the articles. It was a pretty cool experience altogether.

This issue of the STC Intercom is entirely dedicated to API d (more)