Matt Sullivan presented the last individual presentation for Adobe Day at Lavacon 2013, and it was a little different than what I had seen before. To me, it was like Portland’s Crystal Spring Rhododendron Gardens, because while Portland is known for its rose gardens, here’s something that’s different, but not out of place either.
Matt recently co-authored the book, Unstructured Framemaker 11 with Sarah O’Keefe, and took the time to show us some of the more special features of Framemaker 11, specifically in reference to the use of rich media and XML. What made this a different presentation from what I had seen before was two-fold. First, Adobe prides itself in presenting these Adobe Day Thought Leadership events as the antithesis of a long commercial for the Adobe Technical Communications Suite applications, so having this presentation about Framemaker specifically seemed to go against that. But the deeper the presentation went, it was obvious that it wasn’t as much about how to include rich media in Framemaker (although that was certainly presented), it was about opening up minds to the idea of using rich media in digital documentation, and Framemaker happened to be the tool used to demonstrate this. Matt Sullivan is one of the foremost experts out there on the use of Framemaker (he did co-author a book, after all, and I’ve seen the book–it’s a hefty tome), so this made a lot of sense. The second part that seemed different was that it was a demonstration at all. As mentioned before, I was a little confused that an aspect of Framemaker was being demonstrated. For those who were familiar with the product, it was easier to follow along. For those who weren’t as familiar with the product, they could keep up, but it didn’t necessarily have the same impact, but opened eyes to possibilities.
All that aside, Matt gave a lively demonstration of how one can produce rich media output from DITA/XML. Because this was a live demo, it was hard to track all the nuances of the presentation, so there weren’t a lot of notes taken as it would be difficult to describe the processes step-by-step as he was doing them. The audience went along for the journey through these processes, and we could see how Matt used Framemaker to include of rich media. Matt showed us how one can place videos, flash components, and other multimedia into Framemaker docs. He also showed us how to integrate these into the DITA map, and how a PDF document can be produced for both print and interactive versions. One of the best examples Matt showed us was how 3D models can be used in Framemaker documents in addition to control tables. Matt explained that the beauty of the ability to add rich media to documentation is that it’s all about the single-sourcing features to be able to integrate the rich media. The other part of what makes it optimal is that rich media can be saved to online formats. He stressed that rich media can be used in unstructured Framemaker as well as structured Framemaker.
Matt has also done several Adobe webinars covering much of the information presented in this presentation and more. As a refresher, he offered a 45-minute demo with the details found at http://wp.me/p1KX8V-4P, which is also available on his blog at http://mattrsullivan.com.
While it was a little difficult to cover and summarize this presentation (no fault of Matt’s–he did an excellent job), as I said before, this was something new for me to experience at an Adobe Day. I learned not only about how to include multimedia objects in Framemaker specifically, but Matt was also showing how valuable rich media can be when used correctly and methodically in almost any kind of documentation and content out there, which is really the more important part of the bigger picture. As technical communicators, we need to remember that we don’t have to be limited by text and stand-alone images.
(Matt, if you need to correct anything I’ve said here or would like to add anything, please feel free to add in the Comments section!)
Next in the Adobe Day -Lavacon 2013 coverage: Val Swisher’s presentation.
(Yes, I’m going backwards with how everything was presented. Why? Because I can. 🙂 )
It’s been more than a week since I attended the 2013 Adobe Day at Lavacon, and like the previous two Adobe Days that I’ve attended in the last year or so, it certainly exceeded my expectations. There’s a lot to digest and write from my notes, plus I’ve been busy with my job, so it’s taken me a while to get things started. I appreciate your patience, as I hope that these upcoming summaries will give you the full flavor of this always free, thought leadership event!
The theme for this Adobe Day seemed to change mid-campaign prior to the actual event. Originally, the day was promoted as being an event in the “City of Roses,” alluding to one of the nicknames of the hosting city, Portland, Oregon. Later, the event was touted as being “a conference at the confluence of 2 rivers,” again referencing the location of Portland. Since this was my second visit to Portland in which I had an opportunity to see much more of the city and surroundings than during my first trip, I decided that I would adhere to the original theme for my postings about the event.
As always, I find it best to start my summaries of Adobe Day with the panel discussion that ended the event, as it provides an excellent starting point for the issues discussed throughout Adobe Day. The panel discussion was titled, “Preparing Your Content for Multi-lingual, Multi-Channel Global Delivery–Challenges and Opportunities.” In thinking about this theme, it reminded me–sticking with my floral theme of the “City of Roses”–of the International Rose Test Garden in Portland. The International Rose Test Garden is the most famous of all the public gardens in Portland, having the most colors and varieties of roses found anywhere for all to enjoy. The Adobe Day panel consisted of several thought leaders in technical communication that resembled this rose garden, as it was full of variety in experiences and opinions.
After an audience drawing for door prizes conducted by Maxwell Hoffman of Adobe for “Made in Oregon”-type prizes, the always nimble Scott Abel (aka The Content Wrangler) moderated the panel. I will admit that questions and answers were going by so quickly as to squeeze in as much information as possible that I was unable to tell you who said what for the most part, but I’m going to provide you with the main summary of the lightning fast conversation. I’d like to thank the following people for also tweeting the event, which helped me confirm my own information as well as fill in some blanks for information that might have slipped by. I’ve included some of their findings in this post:
(Be sure to check out all the Twitter connections of these fine people and the panelists! Lots of good ideas shared by these people!)
Questions and answers were as follows:
Q: What does it means to be global ready? A: Global ready means being able to operate anywhere in the world, ready to be translated easily, and that content being to be able to be structured, simple, and consumable. Other benefits includ knowing your audience well, as this way, content will be more consumable by both native and ESL (English as a Second Language) speakers.
Q: What is the single biggest challenge preventing us from reach global audiences?
A: The current mindset, rapid change, and a lack of strategy were listed as the top challenges. It was also noted that the voice that companies use now, such as cheeky language, isn’t working. We aren’t thinking strategically, so we need to think about the whole life cycle of projects and getting out of thinking in “silos”.
Q: What can we do to prepare for both human & machine translation?
A: Simplifying sentences in a grammatically correct way is a big way to help. Sentences should be 24 words or less. We need to also decide whether to use original content or not, what kind of content, what volume, etc. Content needs good globalization methods with translation and localization.
Q: Is it possible to create consistent tone and voice that will translate well across cultures, and if so, should we?
A: We may not be able to do it for all audiences, but you need to try.
Q: What is multichannel publishing exactly?
A: It is making maximum use of technology to create translation of content. This includes writing code to code, spoken to written, etc. You need to create a single, consistent source for what you are doing. As we break content into chunks for reuse, we have to take into account corporate culture and practices.
Q: What are the biggest challenges facing organizations that seek to publish content to multiple channels?
A: The biggest challenges listed were internal obstacles, such as no one wanting to change, “this is the way we’ve always done it” attitude. The is a need to understand that times are changing, so content needs to change with the times. Content may be outdated and it need to keep up. Writers can be a problem as well, as the content we create isn’t necessarily the content we consume. Customers can consume content in ways that we (the writers) don’t, so we need to be mindful of that. The people who are consuming content today are not the people who were consuming it 5 years ago. The content that you put in your help files also has to be on Google, after all. It was recommended that writers use SEO words in Google that customers use, and that will help writers understand context and how to craft our documentation for customers, as “Google-ability” affects context. Keywords are often created post-publishing, so we need to be proactive before publishing to have the advantage. If you manage your keywords, you can help with findability.
Q: What are the not-so-obvious opportunities of multichannel delivery?
A: Opportunities taking advantage of non-text items are the best opportunities right now, such as automated graphics that adjust to a device display. A table of contents for video can actually help in documentation, since end-users don’t have a long enough attention. Indexing multimedia should be made as part of the product. Further action also need to be taken to expand on the idea of being able to start on one device and continuing on another, like Kindle, as this has not explored enough yet.
Q: What’s the biggest mistake an organization can make when moving to a multichannel global content delivery?
A: Organizations tend to look internally, instead of getting outside input, such as learning things from conferences (like @LavaCon ). Mobile delivery is very different in different countries, so we need to do it in ways other than American. We need to find balance if one aspect is overfocused. The biggest mistake is thinking that everyone is like us (Americans/North Americans). They’re not! Strategy and planning from the start is key! We need to also learn from what’s working and what’s not, and go from there. It’s important to stop and assess procedures, and then add on more. There is a strong need to clean up practices. It comes back to knowing your audience–its symbols, language, culture. Testing is the best way to see if your audience are getting the benefit of the content you are putting out, and making sure it’s usable.
Q: How does one write consistency to reap those benefits and be consistent with SEO?
A: Writers need to know what language your customer is looking for you, and find a balance between translatability and vocabulary. Metadata is important inside as well.
Q; Are there tools on the horizon that will help with those symbols, icons, etc. that could not be good for translation?
A: At this point, no software as of yet. It’s mostly people based right now, but evolving software does exist. Precise content has its benefits including accessibility as well as fluid machine translation. Interaction types (voice, touch, text) will be a big part of how you integrate with content for global audience in mobile, although it’s not limited to mobile. Consideration of various screen sizes will be key. Think your online help is the first place your users go for answers? Unless your help shows up on Google, think again.
You have to admit, it sounds like quite the conversation, and it was!
Next in the Adobe Day -Lavacon 2013 coverage: Matt Sullivan’s presentation.
A little more than a month from this writing, Adobe will be hosting an Adobe Day event at the 2013 LavaCon Conference on Social Media and Content Strategies. It will feel a little sentimental for me, because I felt like I had come into my own when attending the same event last year. I remember my excitement at hearing all the speakers and learning so much information from them as a newly-minted technical communicator. All the information that I soaked in during last year’s Lavacon Adobe Day was put to good use, as I was able to use the information when speaking at interviews when I was job searching. I’m confident that the information I learned at the event helped me get the job I have right now.
Now, I’m excited that Adobe is bringing the event back to Lavacon this year. I think I’m just as excited as last year, to be honest! Having now attended two Adobe Day events (the other being the one at the 2013 STC Summit), I know I’m in for a great time.
Adobe has adopted a theme around the location of the Lavacon Adobe Day, namely around Portland, Oregon’s nickname of “The City of Roses.” I got to thinking about this, and it seems totally appropriate. If you think about it, technical communicators are the gardeners and landscapers of content and technical communication. We need to sow and care for our documentation as if they are our gardens and plants. I know that I grow with each event with my own knowledge, and that’s why I like attending them.
And how is it that we describe growing roses? I believe the expression is that roses are “cultivated”, which implies to me that they aren’t just grown, but they are carefully tended to, bad stuff weeded out, and they are pruned until they are just right, much like technical communication should be. If these steps are done correctly, diligently, and thoughtfully, rose plants should bloom in full. The same applies to our documentation–our gardens! The speakers at Adobe Day will be helping us learn the tools and methods we need to make our “gardens” grow!
I’ve seen many of the speakers listed for the event before, speaking about different topics. They always have fantastic insights. I’m also looking forward to seeing some other presenters that I haven’t heard from before. The great thing about Adobe Day events is that isn’t never the same thing twice. Topics change and shift with the times, and the talks reflect of that reality. World-class experts helping us all learn how to make our “gardens” grow on a global scale? Priceless. The fact that the event is FREE and that it’s not a big info-mercial for Adobe is an added bonus. Adobe makes a very concerted effort to make sure that the event is topic-centric, not software endorsement-centric. Their goal is to help technical communicators grow in knowledge, and the thought leadership they gather for each of these events are top notch. Who wouldn’t want to go to something like that?
As I said earlier, I feel that I grow each time that I attend an Adobe Day event. I’ve already seen how it has helped open my mind, and that knowledge has given me a boost both in job interviews and in the workplace. I bring back the best ideas to help me not only grow my own career, but to also help the company I work for grow with the times as well. The last thing any company needs is to be in the weeds, and these talks definitely help with the weeding process of what best practices are to be used. The best ideas are cultivated and presented to us!
So, if you are going to Lavacon this year, or if you are going to be in the Portland, Oregon area on the morning of October 20th, I strongly encourage you to attend this great event. I’ll definitely be there in full force, and I’ll be covering the event live through my Twitter feed as well.
Adobe Day at the 2013 STC Summit was really great. It took me a while to digest all my own notes and relive the moments promoting the rock stars of tech comm. But like all good music festivals, the “Coachella” of tech comm had to end, but with great memories of fantastic information that will stay with me for a long time. Hopefully you enjoyed this “magical mystery tour” as well!
There were several people from Adobe that were truly instrumental in making this event a success, but I have to “give it up” for the two Masters of Ceremony of the event, Saibal Bhatacharjee and Maxwell Hoffmann.
So many people know them from the Adobe TCS webinars, blogs, and other social media outlets. I know they’ve been two of my greatest supporters, so I want to thank them for inviting me to the event, and as always, making me feel welcome both during Adobe Day, as well as during the STC Summit.
If you missed my series for this Adobe Day event, here’s a recap, so you can relive the day yourself:
I hope you’ve enjoyed all the articles. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below!
The next time there is an Adobe Day near you, or if you have the opportunity to go to one, I strongly encourage you to go! I’ve now been to two of them, and both were different. It’s amazing to see how perspectives change on the “hot” issues of tech comm in a mere few months! I was glad to hear from leading experts on the pressing topics of the day. And I have to say, I’ve learned so much from both visits. I can honestly say, as well, that both provided information that were applicable to my job, even as a new technical communicator. Keeping up with current trends in technical communication is important, because technology is changing fast, and technical communicators need to keep up with not only the technology itself, but the needs that new technology presents. Adobe does a nice job of bringing the best thought leadership from around the globe to talk about these issues for free. How can you pass that up?
Thanks again, Adobe, for an amazing opportunity to attend this free event!