AI and chatbots in technical communication – A primer

It seems likely artificial intelligence (AI) and AI-driven chatbots will play a key role in helping users in the future. So what does this mean for technical communicators and for User Assistance?

This podcast is based on an article we’ll be posting to tekom’s Intelligent Information blog. The article is currently out for review, and it should be published in the next two weeks.

The podcast has three chapters, or parts:

  1. What are chatbots?
  2. Making a chatbot
  3. What does this mean for technical communicators and for User Assistance?

See the Cherryleaf Podcast for podcasts on similar topics.

1-1 networking meetings at the British Museum

At Cherryleaf, we’re happy to have 1-1 networking meetings with people and offer some free advice for software companies.

As many people prefer to meet in central London, we hold London 1-1 meetings in the Members’ Room of the British Museum.

Members' Room British MuseumMembers' Room British Museum

We also use the Engineering Hub at the Institution of Electronics and Technology, next to the Savoy Hotel, which has rooms for larger and/or more private meetings.

Contact us if you’d like to meet up.

Cherryleaf 2017 European technical communicators survey results – Part 3 Other Salaries

Here are some more findings from our recent survey of European technical communicators. These relate to non-UK salaries.

We didn’t get enough data to draw many conclusions, so we’ve provided the responses in the table below. We converted all of the salaries to Euro, to make it easier to compare.

Continue reading “Cherryleaf 2017 European technical communicators survey results – Part 3 Other Salaries”

Cherryleaf 2017 European technical communicators survey results – Part 2 UK Salaries

Here are some more findings from our recent survey of European technical communicators. These relate to UK salaries. Most of the people who responded to our survey were based in the UK, so we are able to look at these in more detail than other countries.

UK salaries

We asked people to describe their seniority levels: Junior, Line staff/Standard, Senior/Team Lead, and Manager. These are often a key factor in the salary someone earns.

LevelSalary (Mean)
Junior£32,000
Line staff/Standard£37,826
Senior/Team Lead£50,982
Documentation Manager£49,620

Excluding managers, the mean was £45,338.

Are the figures accurate?

The sample size was fairly small (n=61), so  we do need to look at this information with some caution.

Data on the Technical Author salaries offered on the main IT jobs boards in the six months to August 2017 show a UK median annual salary of £50,000 (with a median of £47,000 for jobs offered outside of London). They also show a 25% increase in median salary offered (17.5% increase for jobs offered outside of London) since August 2016. That’s based on 167 job adverts – again a fairly small population. We also need to bear in mind the salaries in job vacancies can be higher than those for people who have been a job for a long time, and the number of Technical Author job adverts has decreased in the last 24 months.

See also : Cherryleaf’s recruitment service – Technical Authors and other content developer roles

Cherryleaf 2017 European technical communicators survey results – Part 1

Here are some of the findings from our recent survey of European technical communicators. These relate to skills and experience. We’ll look at the findings in more details on the Cherryleaf podcast, and we’ll post the data on salaries in later blog posts.

Download Cherryleaf salary survey infographic

Salary Survey Results - summary

Continue reading “Cherryleaf 2017 European technical communicators survey results – Part 1”

Example project – API documentation portal using MadCap Flare

Note: This post follows on from two previous posts on creating a unified API documentation portal:

We’ve just uploaded an example project of an API documentation portal created using MadCap Flare:

The documentation portal includes API reference documentation that was generated automatically from a Swagger/OpenAPI specification file.

Whenever the REST API specification is updated, that content automatically updates itself in the Flare project.

Using MadCap Flare means you can provide a consistent user experience: for the reference, troubleshooting, getting started and tutorial content. Flare also manage the content, search, linking, pdfs, tables, flowcharts etc.

The steps are:

  1. Generate the API reference documentation in HTML format from the OpenAPI specification file. This could be generated automatically each day.
  2. Import the API reference HTML file into Flare. Select Link Generated Files to Source Files. This creates a connection between the original HTML files and the files that are created as a result of the import. Flare recognises when changes have been made to the source documents.
  3. Fix any initial CSS issues. The API reference HTML file links to a cascading stylesheet file. We found we needed to create a CSS file with the same name, as there were some issues with displaying the top navigation menu bar.
  4. Generate and publish your web site. You can run Flare’s “Build” command from the operating system’s command line. This means you can create a batch file with the necessary commands in it. Then you can use a scheduling tool to run the batch file automatically.

Further work could be done to improve the outputs:

  • We’ve not made any changes to the default styles for the PDF manual.
  • Amending the cascading stylesheet for the Stripe-style API documentation
  • Adding code samples.

See also: Cherryleaf’s API documentation writing services