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Posts with the Tag: software

Technical Writing Resolutions for 2011

16th December 2010 Posted in Blog, Documentation, Planning, Technical Writers 4 Comments
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A new year means you get the chance to do things over, to do things better. Whether you’ve been happy with your technical writing team or you think things should improve, it’s time to look back on the past year to see what needs to improve and what needs to be removed from your company for the year ahead. Here are some ideas to get you thinking.

Update Your Software

If you’re still using the old versions of your software, it may be time for an upgrade. When you use old software, you produce possibly dated and unprofessional looking results and you don’t get to take advantage of new or enhanced features. Plus, you may be leaving yourself or your company exposed to security risks.

Look at the software you are using and ask the technical writers when they last updated. If it’s been more than a year, it might be time for a new piece of software or at least an upgrade, where available. Talking with the people who actually use the software often will help you to assess what you actually need and what can wait until a new budget period.

Update Your Standards

Yes, even technical writing styles need to change from year to year. It’s a good idea to start by evaluating the standards you have in place and see whether they might be improved. Again, talking to senior technical writers on your team can help you begin to see what needs to be changed and what might not.

For example, if you have a standard about when to use boldface print and it’s just too distracting, then you might want to look into changing that. Additionally, AP recently updated its style guide for website as a single, non-capitalized word. Times change. Usage changes.

Start a New Testing System

At the same time, you need to be aware of the end users too since they are the ones that will be using the final technical writing products. By creating a new testing system that will help you find out whether a program or guide works or not, you will have a safeguard in place to ensure that only effective and accurate technical writing will make it to the users. In the same vein, if you don’t have a formal peer review process in place for your writers, the new year could be a great time to develop and implement one.

The new year is a great time to start fresh, and that includes your technical writing. Time to break some bad habits, pick up some good habits, and hopefully make sure your improvements last beyond February, unlike most other resolutions that barely make it through the month.

What are some of your technical writing team’s resolutions for 2011 or resolutions you’re planning as a tech writing freelancer? We’d love to hear them – leave a comment!

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ComponentOne Releases Doc-To-Help 2010 v2 for Technical Communicators

10th June 2010 Posted in Blog, Software Tools 0 Comments

Software maker ComponentOne recently announced the release of its Doc-To-Help 2010 v2. A good portion of the technical communications community is familiar with Doc-To-Help, which is used to produce desktop, Web and print deliverables.

The company’s announcement indicated that this release focuses on Microsoft’s current and upcoming releases, Visual Studio 2010 and Office 2010, as well as improvements in usability.

ComponentOne said it has had a close relationship with Microsoft for over 20 years and that Doc-To-Help is the first help authoring tool to support Microsoft Word 2010 (which has not yet been released), Microsoft Help Viewer 1.0 (Microsoft’s newest Visual Studio Help format) and Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server 2010.

Dan Beall, product manager at ComponentOne said the company wanted to make sure that Doc-To-Help will cause no delay when an organization whose technical communicators are using Doc-To-Help decides to upgrade its Microsoft infrastructure. Beall also said that some of the new and enhanced user experience features in Doc-To-Help 2010 v2 include: Word Count, Topic Placeholders and Automatic Update of Custom Table of Contents.

Visit the Doc-To-Help website for more information.

Related:
Technical Writers: How Important is Specific Software Experience?

If you are a technical communicator, what software tools do you use? If you hire technical communicators, how important is experience with a specific software tool when it comes to selecting new hires? Leave a comment!

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