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What’s Up, EDoc?!


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What’s Up, EDoc?!

  1. 1. What’s Up, EDoc?!
  2. 2. Who Am I? Neil Perlin - Hyper/Word Services. – Internationally recognized content consultant. – Help clients create effective, efficient, flexible content in anything from hard-copy to mobile. – STC’s lead W3C rep – ’02 – ‘05. – Certified – Flare, Mimic, RoboHelp, Viziapps Studio.
  3. 3. Some Specific Predictions – On the Broad Side
  4. 4. Mobile From here… To here…
  5. 5. Mobile If the definition is always changing, what is “mobile”? Effectively “the un-desktop”. How to create content for all these things? – HTML5, responsive design, other technologies and methodologies.
  6. 6. HTML5 HTML 5 – More power than HTML 4.01, less rigid than XML. – Strategic effect – better enables web crawlers. – Mobile driver – basis for “hybrid” mobile apps. – Supports responsive design.
  7. 7. Responsive Design Device-agnosticism, or… “…use of media queries, fluid grids, and scalable images to create sites that display… well… at multiple resolutions.” – Implementing Responsive Design, Tim Kadlec New Riders, 2013 Emerging support in popular HATs. – Examples from RoboHelp 11 and Flare 10…
  8. 8. Responsive Design Note the design changes as the display size shrinks – RoboHelp.
  9. 9. Responsive Design And again here – Flare.
  10. 10. Content Strategy Can’t just wing it in this environment, Calls for a “content strategy.” Which is what? – Depends on your company, might involve doc cost-justification, strategic role for doc team, standards, content creation, tools, training, etc. Plus two new writing approaches – topic- based authoring and structured authoring.
  11. 11. Topic-Based Authoring  Authoring content in chunks – “topics” – rather than documents or books. – A topic is as focused and self-contained as possible a discussion about one subject.  Not new. – Dates back to ‘91 with first HATs. – Actually dates back to ‘65 and InfoMapping.
  12. 12. Structured Authoring  Authoring with structure. – Just means content has structure – no precon- ceptions about what it is or how it’s applied.  So what is “structure”? – Standard and consistent sectional, syntactical, and stylistic rules. – What technical communicators have always created, albeit usually manually…
  13. 13. What Do I Get Out of This? Pros: – Flexibility – Granular content easier to target. – Multi-author capable projects. – Content re-use. – Single author = writing consistency, ownership. – CMS integratability – Self-explanatory. Cons: – New way of authoring – lack of continuity. – Excess granularity can = too many topics.
  14. 14. Analytics Need some way to track usage, rather than just releasing our material into the void. We’ve had analytics for years but seldom used it. – 3rd party – Google Analytics. – Vendor-specific – RoboHelp Plus, MadCap Pulse. See April issue of Intercom for more.
  15. 15. The Cloud Short definition of “the cloud” » powerpoint-templates
  16. 16. The Cloud What to expect: – Output to the cloud – changes distribution. »ViziApps Flare project. »Snapguide ( – Cloud-based tools – access on any device with a browser and internet connection – unhooks us from the office. »Google Drive, Office 365, ViziApps Studio.
  17. 17. Social Media Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest(!)… – like it or not, use them. If you don’t: – You’ll miss emerging uses in areas like tech support and customer support. – You can’t stop it – try and it’ll happen anyway and you’ll be left behind… – …and get a reputation for being out of touch.
  18. 18. Some Specific Predictions – On the Focused Side
  19. 19. DOCTYPE Declaration In Flare. – Adds a DOCTYPE statement to topic files to render in “strict” or “standards” mode. – No DOCTYPE – topics render in “quirks” mode.
  20. 20. DOCTYPE Declaration Strategic decision… – “Strict” tells browser to use new, strict rules for displaying HTML files. – “Quirks” tells browser to use older, loose rules. – How to decide? » Do your topics use display features like floats that don’t display correctly in normal mode? Use strict mode – e.g. enable DOCTYPE. » Not having these problems? Use quirks mode – e.g. ignore DOCTYPE – maybe...
  21. 21. DOCTYPE Declaration What’s the effect? – “Quirks” lets modern browsers violate current syntax rules to run older HTML files correctly but may cause trouble going forward. – “Strict” enforces modern syntax rules. » Which may break the display of older HTML files. – Effects vary depending on browser, version. – Talk to your programmers. – See
  22. 22. Relative Units of Measure We’re used to point-based sizes – 72pt = 1” – from print – familiar and simple.
  23. 23. Problems With Points Points being fixed, are fine in print but have two problems in online outputs: – Can’t be resized by a browser user. »Selecting View > Text Size in IE has no effect. – Can’t be resized automatically by a browser.
  24. 24. Relative Size Units – % – Based on default size of normal on a given browser – 100%. »H1 of 150% is 50% larger than normal for any browser. – em – Based on currently-used font size. »If body is set to 16px, then 1.5 em = 24px. – rem (root em) – Based on font size for html{} tag. Not yet widely supported, esp. in HATs. – ex – Poorly supported – don’t use.
  25. 25. Why Relative Sizes? Image at absolute width in a too-narrow space. – Note horizontal scroll bar. At relative width in same space. – No horizontal scroll bar; 50% width makes browser show the image at 50% of available space – e.g. “relative”. – Each browser handles the formatting for you.
  26. 26. Float A CSS property that controls the positioning of other elements in an HTML page. Replaces (or eventually will replace) use of tables as layout design elements.
  27. 27. Augmented Reality Keeps “real” reality and adds info to it. – Most commonly by augmenting a smartphone screen showing what’s in front of you. »Versus the new reality of “virtual reality”. – The augment can be related to what’s displayed or just overlaid. – For example…
  28. 28. Augmented Reality Examples  Fun but silly example, with the AR unrelated to the display – Wikitude’s Swat the Fly.  Starbuck’s Cup Magic from Valentine’s Day, 2012.
  29. 29. Augmented Reality Examples  Using the accelerometers to determine phone’s orientation and direction and NASA terrain data to determine and label the skyline from any point in any direction – Phil Endecott’s Panoramascope: Augmented Reality.
  30. 30. Wearables Eliminate the annoyance of having to haul your iPhone out of your pocket. Sounds silly, but consider convenience and new possibilities.
  31. 31. Wearables Google Glass is the best known example. But there’s also: – Other glasses. – NFC ring. – Samsung Galaxy Gear watch.
  32. 32. And On the Far Out End… “Internet of things” – linked sensors and actuators in physical objects. Dynamically reconfigurable output. – See Author-it DAP (Dynamic Assistance Platform). Dynamically modeled OLH – Metadata- wrapped, self-assembling content chunks.
  33. 33. Some Overall Trends
  34. 34. Technical Move from… – Proprietary to open code formats, like RTF to XHTML, HTML5. – Proprietary, local to open, web outputs, like HTML Help to WebHelp, HTML5. – PC to web, multi-access environments, like the cloud. – Documents to repurposable content chunks. – Simple to complex technical ecosystems, like CSS3 and media queries.
  35. 35. Management of Content We should see: – Need for more rigorous topic-based content created using templates, CSS, etc. – Less text. – Need for strategic and cost-justification. – Need for standards to future-proof our material to avoid this.
  36. 36. How to Deal With All This
  37. 37. Some Crucial Questions Which technologies will take off? Which will your company use? You? Who knows? – Remember Blackbird, the CueCat, server push, mCommerce? So what do we do? Be independent – act on our own rather than waiting for your company to act for you.
  38. 38. What To Do Stay current technically. Stay current on general business and trends. – To understand events – profitability vs. market share and re-birth of RoboHelp, Apple vs. Adobe re Flash, Adobe’s HTML5 conundrum. – Business issues can kill a technology. Stay current on your company’s business. – Show tech comm’s support of corp. strategy.
  39. 39. What To Do Develop, promulgate, and enforce standards to “future-proof” your work. – Such as relative sizes in CSSs. Develop and maintain metrics. – For cost-justification a CFO will accept. Get trained on your tools and technologies. – A course does the flailing for you.
  40. 40. What To Do Review your tools re environmental change. – Like FrameMaker in an age of “topics”. Accept rise of “content”, social media. Don’t denigrate tools in favor of writing. – Tools enable content delivery, without which content is pointless. Embrace and help shape change…
  41. 41. Hyper/Word Services Offers… Training • Consulting • Development Flare • Flare CSS • Flare Single Sourcing RoboHelp • RoboHelp CSS • RoboHelp HTML5 ViziApps Single sourcing • Structured authoring
  42. 42. Thank you... Questions? 978-657-5464 Twitter: NeilEric