Location of Technical Authors – new data added to the map

location of technical authors August 2014

The Institute of Technical Communicators has kindly provided us with additional data for our Location of Technical Authors map. They’ve supplied us with an anonymised list of the location of ISTC members. These are indicated by the peach coloured pins on the map.

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.

 

Is it ok for technical communicators to experiment on users?

Experiment sign Flickr CC image by jurvetsonBBC News is reporting the OKCupid Website has revealed that it experimented on its users. It decided to reveal the tests after the discovery that Facebook had been manipulating the feeds of its users.

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?

Creating a map showing the location of Technical Authors

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.

We currently have an intermittent problem with our website. If you see an Error Establishing Database connection message, please refresh the page and it should appear.

RoboHelp 11 review (finally)

robohelp logoAdobe 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.

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What would a Technical Author ask from Santa?

Santa Claus - WikipediaSaint Nicholas’s day has passed, which means Christmas is getting close. So what would a Technical Author ask from Santa Claus?

One thing we could request is the ability to embed one Google document inside another. That would mean that Google Docs could support some basic content reuse.

Another would be to request Madcap Flare’s DITA support to be extended, so that you could create edit native DITA files.

We could ask him to provide a standard technology format for providing Help for mobile applications.

We could also ask him for a way to use Siri and Google Voice Search to interact with our user guides.

So what would you ask Santa to bring? Please share your thoughts and ideas below.

The business benefits of DITA – in graphic novel form

DITA graphic novel - page 4We’ve put together a free illustrated guide that explains the business benefits of the DITA authoring and publishing standard.

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.

See: Free illustrated guide to the business benefits of DITA

See also: DITA training courses in London and online

 

How many Technical Authors are in the UK? Here’s the answer

woman reading bookIt’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.
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Getting started as a freelance Technical Author

One of the most common questions we get asked is for advice on becoming a freelance Technical Author. To help address that question in depth, we written an ebook, which you can purchase via the Cherryleaf website.

This guide answers the key questions people have when considering a freelance career as a Technical Author. It is focused on starting out as a freelance Technical Author in the United Kingdom, and in the IT and medical equipment sectors. However, many of the sections will also be applicable to other countries and other industry sectors.

See Getting started as a freelance Technical Writer ebook