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Microsoft has put back the launch of its next operating system, Microsoft Vista. Corporate customers are promised it in November 2006, with the retail version due in January 2007.
This is unlikely to have earth shattering consequences for technical writers, but it is likely to affect some of the Help authoring tool vendors. For Adobe, in particular, who are busy recruiting programmers to restart development of RoboHelp, it gives them an additional six months breathing space to come up with a version that supports Vista.
Electronics Weekly has published a map of technology start-ups in Britain. They define a start-up as one that is less than 5 years old and hasn’t been bought, floated or been wound up.
There are 128 firms featured on the map, up from 110 in 2003 and 32 in 1999. The clusters are Cambridge, Bristol, Southampton and Edinburgh.
Last week we said:
“At the moment, the biggest problem is how to tag particular areas of a diagram (to be called “segmented tagging” or “hotspot tagging” perhaps?), but that’s unlikely to be a showstopper.”
And this week, a Web site went into service that solves this problem!
Does anyone else know what that Web site is ?
A clue – It’s a four letter word beginning with R.
“I got a lot out of the day. I think the standard course is ideally suited to people who are starting out or at the early phases of implementing new online help projects. While the work that our department does is a little beyond this stage, I still found the course, which was tailored to suit our needs, of great value. I had stressed that I wanted to get “back to basics”, and I found that even areas that weren’t new to me were valuable, as it allowed me confirm what we are doing right, and what areas we need to improve…
…In addition, Justin provided well thought out feedback, insights, and critique on issues specific to our department and company in the tailored afternoon session.”
Feedback on Cherryleaf’s Justin Darley from someone in the UK’s largest software company.
What will be the impact of Web 2.0 on technical illustration?
The answer lies, perhaps, in “tagging”, “mashups” and photo sharing.
Wikipedia’s definitions may help you. Tags are “descriptors that individuals assign to objects, in the practice of collaborative categorization”, and a mashup is “a website or web application that seamlessly combines content from more than one source into an integrated experience”.
One possible mashup is between an image tagging site such as Flikr and your technical illustrations. This would enable your users to label diagrams and parts of diagrams using words (or language) of their choosing.
At the moment, the biggest problem is how to tag particular areas of a diagram (to be called “segmented tagging” or “hotspot tagging” perhaps?), but that’s unlikely to be a showstopper.
There are signs that Adobe is planning to breathe life into RoboHelp. They are said to be planning to set up a new development team in India (the former developers were laid off by previous owners Macromedia). Karl Matthews is now Adobe’s Product Manager for RoboHelp, and he is arranging a meeting at the upcoming WritersUA conference with interested parties to determine the future direction for the product.
The questions are:
Is this just talk to stop users migrating to new tools?
If they do plan to act, have they left it too late?
We’ve been tracking Writely for a while, and it’s interesting to see that it’s now been snapped up by Google. It seems likely that Writely will form part of a hosted desktop productivity suite that Google will offer in the near future. The interest for the technical writing community lies more in its collaborative authoring, version control and document sharing capabilities.
Some nice feedback from one our recent Web editing projects:
“I’m very, very happy with the new site content. There are still a few rough edges (like the font sizes, the blog and some of the images/buttons/logos), but our web builder will tackle all that when he’s back from a well-earned holiday next week.
And some good things have happened straight away: our Alexa ranking has started to climb -slowly; our competitors have started really piling in on our Google keyword.
Your work has generated a subtle change that is starting to have a big impact on the way we work with our site. I’ll keep you posted – if this is the effect your work has on sites I think we’ll be working together again soon.”