HyperCard was a hypertext program that came with Apple Macintosh in the 1980s. It allowed you to create “stacks” of online cards, which organsiations used to create some of the first online guides. It also contained a scripting language called HyperTalk that a non-programmer could easily learn. This meant HyperCard could do more than just display content: it could be used to create books, games (such as Myst), develop oil-spill models, and even dial the telephone.
It confirms the locations where there are shortages of Technical Authors, with the exception of two areas: Birmingham and Glasgow. It also suggests new clusters: one around Colchester and Ipswich, and another around Cardiff.
It’s possible for anyone to run experiments on web pages, including technical communicators. You can display one page for 50% of your audience and a different page for the other 50%. Organisations carry out these tests to see if there is any change in user behaviour as a result of making a change to the site.
According to Christian Rudder of OKCupid:
“It’s not like people have been building these things for very long, or you can go look up a blueprint or something. Most ideas are bad. Even good ideas could be better. Experiments are how you sort all this out.”
So is it ok for Technical Authors to experiment on users? If it results in the creation of better, more effective, Web pages would you, as a user, object? Clearly, most of us would object to a website manipulating us or causing potential harm – could that ever apply to the type of experimentation a Technical Author might carry out?
Sarah Maddox’s post on how she has added “techcomm titbits” onto an interactive map, prompted me to look at whether we could create a map showing the location of Technical Authors around the UK. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for years, and Sarah’s post suggested it was much easier to do these days, thanks to Google’s applications.
The map needs data, so if you are a Technical Author, please add your details to the map:
We will not include your name or email address on the map. However we do need your name and email address in order to check the integrity of the data and to update you of any developments. You can use the postcode of a neighbouring street, if you wish.
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Adobe released its latest version of RoboHelp Version 11 (and Technical Communications Suite 5), a while back and asked if we could write a review. There have been a number of excellent reviews, so we’ve been wondering what extra we can say. We’ve decided to address some of the questions we’re often asked by organisations when they’re deciding which Help Authoring Tool to choose.
It’s suitable for Technical Authors and non-Technical Authors.
You’ll find this guide is in graphic novel (or comic) format, comprising 18 colour pages.
You can download the guide from the Cherryleaf website in EPUB, PDF and MOBI formats.
Shortly, we’ll be adding new details on DITA training courses, to the Cherryleaf website: one for beginners and one for advanced users. This will include dates in the autumn for classroom courses. These courses will be held in Westminster.
Contact us if you’re interested in online DITA courses. We may have some details to reveal shortly.
It’s quite difficult to know how many Technical Authors there are in the United Kingdom. The profession doesn’t have its own Standard Occupational Classification code, so there are no official statistics.
We can estimate the number of Technical Authors in the IT sector. One way to do this is by looking at the total number people working in the IT and the percentage of permanent IT job vacancies that are advertising for a Technical Author. Continue reading →