The Spring 2015 edition of Communicator magazine and its special supplement on the Value of Technical Communication was entered in both the IoIC (Institute of Internal Communications) Awards in 2015 and the APEX Awards in 2016. One of Ellis’ articles (“Creating videos: tips and tricks”) was part of that issue.
We’ve just learnt this issue has won an APEX Grand Award. This is the first time Communicator has won a Grand Award. It has also won an IoIC Award of Excellence in 2015.
“This clean, appealing layout offers attractive spreads, a crisp, legible type schedule, with effective use of callouts, sidebars and captions. Content is equally exceptional, with fully vetted, well written articles on a wide range of professional topics. And the supplement on the value of technical communication is an effective ‘selling tool’ for managements and other key audiences. This magazine is precisely the kind of first rate publication you’d expect from a professional association of scientific and technical communicators.”
Here is a link to a recording of an interesting presentation from Britta Gustafson on aspects of working on documentation in the US Government.
“What if U.S. federal agencies decided to reuse and contribute to open source software projects built by other agencies, since agencies often have similar technology problems to solve? And what if they hired technical writers with open source community experience to write documentation for these projects? That would be pretty cool. Also, that’s my work.”
Technical writing as public service: working on open source in government
The Language of Technical Communication book is a collaborative effort with fifty-two contributors defining the terms that form the core of technical communication as it is practiced today. Cherryleaf’s Ellis Pratt was one of the contributors.
Each contributed term has a concise definition, an importance statement, and an essay that describes why technical communicators need to know that term.
Creating user documentation and online Help in a Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery environment can be challenging for technical communicators and developers.
Last week, I spoke at, and attended, Madworld 2016, the conference hosted by MadCap Software for its users. Here is a summary of what I saw and heard on the second day. These were mostly for advanced users; I didn’t see any of the presentations aimed at new users of Flare.
The results from the Stack Overflow 2016 survey have been announced this week. It identified poor documentation as the second most common workplace gripe for developers.
We’ve started work on a new training course about planning, writing and managing an API documentation project. Primarily aimed at REST APIs, this will help you to organise, plan, author and control your API documentation. This course is aimed mostly at people who are not developers, and no programming experience will be required.
The exercises are based around an imaginary API for hospital management system, as most people are familiar with what a hospital is, and what happens inside.
We have have completed the presentation, bar a few teaks, and we are now developing the course exercises and answers. The slide deck currently runs to 256 slides, which means this will almost certainly be a two day course.
We think this course is probably best suited to being delivered in a classroom. We may also offer it as a live, web-delivered course using webinar software for teams based outside of the UK. We might develop a recorded e-learning course at some point in the future, but it’s not something you’re likely to see for a while.
For more details, see Documentating APIs – training course.
We asked Technical Authors to complete a survey into the issues and challenges they face in 2016 and beyond. There were four main themes that stood out:
- Issues around working in an Agile environment.
- A need to develop skills in creating training screencasts. This included how to use tools, structuring and presenting content, and the ideal length of each video.
- Improving the status of Technical Authors and the Technical Publications department in the organisation. This topic has come up in previous surveys.
- Developing skills in using DITA.
We’ve looked at Agile recently, and we’ll revisit the other topics in the upcoming months.
Thanks to everyone who took part in the survey.