Simple A’s Maxwell Hoffman happens to be a good friend and mentor of mine. I’m lucky and honored to have him as one of my cheerleaders. Maxwell recently wrote and excellent article about structure and semantics for context in content for Simple A’s blog and for the ISTC.
His article starts, Content becomes intelligent, flexible, and capable of scalable personalization through structure and semantics.
Content drives customer experience (CX). In order to achieve optimal CX, we need the ability to manage multiple variations of content components that are dynamically assembled as relevant experiences, based on the context of the customer’s touchpoints. We need the ability to create a content component once, then reuse and deploy it many times, in many ways. This requires structured content with an intelligence shaped by semantics.
Structuring content within a well-defined content model makes content scalable, reusable, adaptable, and measurable. We cannot create real-time, personalized conversations at scale without structured, intelligent, semantically rich and truly accessible content.
He continues the article breaking down how we can create content models based on reusable content (do I hear DITA?) and how we model content has direct impact on user and customer experience. This is the foundation of intelligent content, if you think about it.
It’s a well-written article, and I highly recommend that you take a look at it.
The last few weeks–in fact, the last couple of months–have been so busy for me that I can’t always finish what I need to get done. One of the things on my long to-do list has been writing up a review of the new RoboHelp 2015 release. I shouldn’t have waited, because let me tell you–there are some great things happening with this updated product! Additionally, Adobe has already released an update, which I will include details from that as well in this review.
Back in May, Adobe held a preview press conference to let us know what’s new in Robohelp (2015 release). It was hosted by Maxwell Hoffmann, one of the Technical Communications Suite (TCS) product evangelists for Adobe. I know Maxwell fairly well, as I first had a chance to work with him on the webinar I did for Adobe three years ago, and I know he knows and understands the TCS products very well, especially since he worked for some of these products before they were originally acquired by Adobe! He’s also a master storyteller and pays a lot of attention to what technical communicators have to say, so he’s excellent at explaining the benefits of features to users.
The first thing that Maxwell noted was that like the newest release of Framemaker, the naming convention for current and forthcoming releases from now on will be reflected in year instead of version 12, 13, etc. This allows for some consistency, and it’ll be easier to know if you have the latest version based on the year it was released.
Going forward from that, Maxwell explained that RoboHelp (RH) now offers a new degree of usability to both help authors and their users. There are several new features going on in the 2015 release that I have to tell you, truly impressed me, and I think you will find to be great upgrades as well. The highlights of these new features include:
A brand new user interface
Best in class multi device publishing capabilities
Dynamic Content Filters that enable end users to quickly find relevant content
Single-click mobile app creation workflow
Miscellaneous productivity enhancements
Let me go into more detail about each of these highlights.
Brand New User Interface
Even though RH was already able to have its configuration customized by the user, many of the icons were rather small and hard to see–the interface had a lot going on in one screen. Even so, one of the advantages of RH has always been that you didn’t have to work with code in RH. The new interface, when demonstrated, was significantly cleaner and more concise. Not nearly as busy looking as its predecessor! The interface has a much simpler look that resembles modern MS Office interfaces with the task ribbon, project manager window/frame, and the main designing frame. The icons are larger and much clearer to figure out what they are. You also have a choice over the user interface being light or dark, and with or without color. It’s totally customizable to your preferences. Nice! Maxwell noted that it’s also helpful if you have two instances of RH running to keep different projects straight.
The commands are clustered in the tab ribbons. As the different tab ribbons were demonstrated, I could see this was so much easier to decipher! There is also an icon in the first two tabs called “Pods” which can help you manage the pods you are working on. The ribbons allow you to see all the commands readily available to you in a consistent manner. All the tab ribbons seem consistent with MS Office-style ribbons, so new users should be able to adapt easily to these command choices.
The new Output tab ribbon, which contains one of the most frequently used clusters of tools, replaces the single-source layout pod that was in previous versions of RH. The Primary Output tool icon within the Output tab is customizable so that you can choose what outputs you want to use if you have a certain set of outputs that you standardly use. You can still do output of individual things as well, and the generation of output is faster now. There is also a great “Primary Output View” which allow you to prototype and see what your output will look like before you actually publish.
There are several other interface features that are great enhancements. The Quick Access Toolbar used to display your favorite, most commonly used commands can be easily and quickly customized. The tabs will reformat with window resize, and the ribbon can also autohide.
Within the workspace, table creation is similar to MS Word. Tables can be created in color, and have greater flexibility. When creating a table, just like Word, RH creates a specific tab for formatting and layout tables when needed. When creating content, commands that don’t make sense will gray out. Keyboard tips and shortcuts can be customized. The opening window is much more graphical and easier interface to use to start projects. When opening up a file, it will remember what documents you had open. Of course, if you are used to the old interface, this is an option as well.
With the update released in late August, the layouts have been optimized
Boy, Adobe has really gone all the way with making RH an easier, more user-friendly tool to use! If nothing else, this was the one improvement that in my eyes that impressed me the most, because I think this new, user-friendly layout is much less intimidating than the old one, which will help those who are new to the product or not as proficient on the product more willing to use it.
Best in Class Multi-Device Capabilities
RH now has new dynamic content filters that empower users by allowing them to find revelvant content faster. Adobe created brand new HTML5 layout enhancements which include:
The ability to easily show or hide widgets such as the Table of Contents (TOC), Glossary, Index, or Filter panes
Configure media query boundaries for different screens
Support native social media widgets
Flip to Right-to-Left (RTL) layout by changing language in single-source language
Show or hide branding band for mobile output
The HTML5 responsive layout has easy off/on icon control in layout, which is different from previous RH versions due to the clearer icons in the toolbar. Search enhancements include:
The ability to have topic descriptions and control what that text is to make the description more meaningful.
Breadcrumbs are now also part of the descriptions.
Output search results are available in a collapsible left panel for easier navigation.
Native social media widget control allows Facebook and Twitter icons to appear on the output so that you can share the information. This is displayed as an arrow on the side that can pop out the content as needed, so it’s not in the way, yet still available.
Flip layout to right to left with language attribute for Arabic and Hebrew. This will also work with linked or imported RTL Framemaker documents.
Generate faster, better responsive HTML5 output. Faster loading times reduced by half, smaller sized output–2MB less for every 100 topics, and no flickering screen are the result.
You can maintain the Table of Contents state in the left column, and in fact, you can expand more than one section at a time within that section.
Cleaner HTML5 coding.
Some other bonuses are that custom fonts can be embedded when generating high fidelity ePub, and more skins have been added for output formatting to provide more flexibility and to accomodate for RTL projects.
Dynamic Filters and Faceted Navigation Improve The End-User Content Consumption Experience
The new HTML5 layout and contextual search results can let your end users quickly navigate to the relevant content through dynamic filters. Based on existing conditional tags/expressions functionality, users can use the tags/expressions OR/AND at the build time and display these tags/expressions for dynamic filtering by the end users.
Tags can be grouped and filters shown in a two-level hierarchy. All the content is dynamically filtered (TOC, Index, Topics, Search Results etc.). You can choose a display name for both tags and expressions, which works for merged projects as well. Tags can be shown in the output for better testing (Maxwell said that Adobe is most likely the only one doing that with its product), which is currently supported ONLY in responsive HTML5 output and mobile apps.
Enhancements include the ability to enable a single selection or multiple selections of the tags in final output, and enhanced CSH support through a dynamic content URL, so the filter choices are actually seen in the URL of the output, which is great. In the demonstration given, Maxwell showed how you can navitgate through filtered content so only certain things show for certain audiences, which I thought was a great use of this feature.
Content Centric Apps (developing mobile apps)
Robohelp can publish content as mobile apps for iOS and Android which can be read remotely or downloaded directly on your device. Adobe has made it super easy to create mobile app for your documentation by using a PhoneGap:Build/CS subscription to generate multiple apps for both Android and iOS. (PhoneGap is considered an inexpensive subscription.) Mobile apps can easily be downloaded by scanning a generated QR code that can be shared, although a URL that can be shared, too.
Miscellaneous KEY enhancements
There are several extra enhancements that don’t fall under the other main categories, but are still equally important.
Users will be able to work more productively with a ribbon UI and enhanced search functionality, including bi-directional and multiline searches. The support for languages like Arabic and Hebrew, which was a major feature upgrade in FM 2015, is also included in this RH release. As of the new update released in late August, Farsi is also supported.
The “Find & Replace” functionality and searching abilities are significantly improved. Key enhancements include the ability to find results in Design Mode and open the files directly from search results.
Search scope has been extended, so you can also set the search scope to a current project, specific folders, the current window (including TOC/Index, etc. which is new), and all open files (also new), as well as do a multi-line search.
The standard keyboard shortcut of “Ctrl-F” now works to help do searches.
There are now separate tabs for find and replace. In the demonstration given, we were shown that you can find and replace within design mode instead of the HTML mod. There’s also the ability within the find/replace that if you have a long list of items, and you want to find where a specific item in located within that list, then you can go into the Project tab and click on “locate item”, and it will take you directly to the page in design mode. Really nice!
Search direction support–both forward and backwards– is available. You can also search within the source code as well through the line numbers listed in the search lists, which makes this feature very flexible.
Conditional text control has been improved with tagged output so that you can see what is conditional or not for QA purposes. Before, RH had slashed color tags that made it difficult to read and not always an exact match to what the conditional tag was. Now, it has a more intuitive conditional build tag display that is much easier to read text while editing–the overline color exactly matches the tag. The overline is used as a conditional indicator with better readability than cross hatches, the color of the overline is exactly that of the tag, and easy to figure out the tag boundaries.
Support is now provided for named expressions.
Other enhancements enhancements at the time of the release included miscellaneous search enhancements, better scripting support, remember project state, and “find now” works in project manager frame.
Within the update release in late August, some additional enhancements were made in addition to those already mentioned above. Windows 10 support, online video derived from HTTP URLs can now be embedded in RH output, playback settings for multimedia are available, and more than a dozen bugs have been fixed. They’ve evidently been working hard at Adobe to add such features in a short time since the May release!
Pricing & Availability on June 2 (in USD and AUS):
Upgrade from last release
Upgrade from 2 releases
RH 11: $399
RH 10: $599
English, French, German, Japanese
Technical Communications Suite 2015
TCS 4, 3, 2 or 1: $1199
English, French, German, Japanese
TCS 2015 Release includes RoboHelp, FrameMaker, Captivate, Acrobat, and Presenter–all at a price that is 57% less expensive that buying all products individually. It’s something to consider!
I think the thing that impresses me the most out of all the great new features truly is the new interface. Having a simpler, more user-friendly interface is going to bring more users–especially new users–towards this already powerful product. The continuing development on content design flexibility and inclusion of mobile output helps Adobe keep this product as one that will assist technical writers with creating more user-friendly help guides for customers.
As of TODAY, Adobe is releasing five new tools for technical communication professionals everywhere! Technical Communication Suite 5.0 (TCS5), FrameMaker 12 (FM12), FrameMaker XML Author 12 (FMXA 12) and RoboHelp 11 (RH11), and FrameMaker Publishing Server 12 (FMPS12) are now available.It’s been about eighteen months or so since the last big Adobe tech comm release, so you can imagine there are some new and enhanced features included.
I was privileged to be among a group of tech comm professionals who were invited to get a preview of the products before their release, and I have to say, there were so many new and improved features that it was difficult to squeeze all the information into one press conference! But I’m going to give you the highlights, and I’m sure you’re going to find that there’s something new for you.
In the last release of TCS, namely TCS4, there were several big overhauls of the product, namely that the Technical Communications Suite concentrated on providing tools that supported structured authoring, integrated interactive content, and could support the creation of content for mobile devices while providing searchable, personalized, socially enabled content in a way that would yield bigger results with less resources. It was a major step to enhance these tools, especially in regards to adding mobile and interactive abilities to content. Adobe has continued to build on those major changes with the new features in version 5.0.
The foundation of the Tech Comm Suite has always been FrameMaker and RoboHelp. With the release of TCS5, FrameMaker 12 and RoboHelp 11 have been released with big enhancements that appear to concentrate on making these tools more user-friendly and efficient for the technical writers using them.
For FM12, the first obvious enhancement is the interface. Adobe has improved the user interface to include colored icons and larger icons that look cleaner and sharper in HD. If you like things “old school” in the original smaller, monochromatic colors, that choice is still available as well. There is also more flexibility in customizing your interface. A new “pod” allows the user to access all the currently opened files in one place, from which you can save and close multiple files at one time, while still viewing the unsaved files. There are also enhanced abilities to drag-and-drop to empty areas of the interface, close pods or panels more easily, double-click on empty areas to minimize or expand pods, and searching capabilities have been expanded. These seem like minor details, but when using a product as often as many technical writers use FrameMaker, these finer details can make a big difference! FM12 includes three samples of unstructured content and one DITA-based content sample with the product.
FM12 is not all about a new façade. Adobe has enriched the authoring process with new capabilities. The first thing that caught my attention is that FM12 can generate QR codes now! They can be created for URLs, SMS texts, emails, or to initiate phone calls. QR codes are taking over these days, so it’s great that these can be both created and integrated into FM documentation. Background color enhancements allow uniform height background color and options to specify paragraph boxes. The addition of a new customer-requested feature is the support regular expression coding.
Single-sourcing has been a hot topic in the last few years, and this has been addressed with new enhancements. FM12 gives users a new way to work with conditional text, by using a new conditional tag pod which provides check-box mechanisms with multiple conditions to allow the user to do more complex filtering with conditional text enhancements. It truly simplifies the entire process, that even a newbie should be able to figure it out easily.
Productivity enhancements have also been included in FM12. A searchable smart catalog function allows the user to filter choices based on the valid choices available and phrase typed by the user, while the user can continue to use the keyboard shortcuts as before. There is also a new capability to open all files from the user’s last session in one click, including the last documents and pages in focus, workspaces such as pods, panels and palettes, among others.
Adobe has also taken care to add great collaboration enhancements in FrameMaker. Native connections to any webdev content management system (CMS), such as Documentum, SharePoint, and Adobe CQ are available. Users can now view entire CMS tree layouts, and can access several key CMS functions, such as checking out documents, editing documents, and searching within document, all from FM12. PDF review commenting has been made more flexible. The most proactive steps towards subject matter expert (SME) reviews is that reviews can be done on PDF reader apps on mobile devices, and can also be used on those same devices using cloud technology such as Dropbox for both internal and external reviewers. As mobile devices become more commonplace replacing desktops and laptops, this is a great step forward!
Publishing abilities have gotten a boost on FrameMaker as well. It used to be that if you wanted to create certain types of digital output, such a ePUBs, for FrameMaker content, you would have to export it to RoboHelp, and have RoboHelp publish the document. Now, that step is no longer needed for PDFs, Webhelp, ePUBs, Kindle docs, Microsoft HTML Help, responsive HTML5, or Web help! That’s a big deal, as it allows FM12 to be more efficient by skipping that step of exporting and publishing in RoboHelp. Publishing can also be done through the Web now, too, for multiple users using a FrameMaker server, allowing multiple users to publish simultaneously and automatically to multiple channels and devices. That’s a practical efficiency improvement right there!
With this release, Adobe is introducing a new FrameMaker product for those who don’t need the full version of FM12, but are mostly concerned in having a tool to do structured XML authoring. FrameMaker XML Author is a tool that has been created especially for the structured XML market. Those wanting to use unstructured content will still need to use the full FM12 version. The XML Author is fully standards-compliant for content creation, and supports the most popular XML technology for single-sourcing. It is not FM12 “lite”, but it is a streamlined, easy-to-use version that supports structured authoring without the bulk of the FM12 features that aren’t needed for structured content, yet still integrate-able with the full version of FM12 and available at a lower price. I’m sure that having this tool will be highly beneficial to many companies who are looking for a way to cut costs (it is priced at 40% the price of FM12 “full”) while still reaping the benefits of having a powerful XML authoring tool.
Another customer request that has been granted by Adobe is the integration of MathML, to allow MathML equations to be imported, created, edited, and published with FrameMaker. Adobe is even including 30-day trials of MathFlow (MathML editor from Design Science) with the shipment of FM12 for those who are interested in trying it out. There are several other features that are also included, along with 55 bug fixes, improved performance and launch time for FrameMaker, but I’d end up writing a book at this point!
Of course, with all these big changes to FrameMaker, we can’t forget RoboHelp 11, which also has had a big overhaul.
RH11, like FM12, has a new UI look as well. Based on customer feedback, RH11 has a new color scheme and a more modern interface that looks more pleasing to the eye. It’s a step in the right direction. Adobe has said that further UI improvements are in the works, but this current new UI is the first step in a long overdue makeover for the interface.
The more important feature enhancements with this new release of RoboHelp include advances with HTML5 publishing, printed document enhancements, and collaboration and single-sourcing enhancements.
The HTML5 publishing enhancements are from the perspective that mobile publishing is central, so new single responsive layouts for all devices are available “right out of the box” when downloading RH11. This new single layout feature will work seamlessly across all devices, can be easily customized, will allow for real-time previewing based on the browser size, and can be published with one click. There is a new wizard-based layout editor available to help with this process that shows the added responsive HTML5 output options. You can also preview layouts, and the customization is great because no coding in CSS needs to be done, as you can use the editor instead. To me, this is true single-sourcing creation at its best while simplifying the process! This is a big deal!
Printed documents have not been ignored. Users can now customize headers and footers of printed documents by defining them in the master pages. Headers and footers can also be imported from Word. There is also the ability to specify different headers and footers for the cover, and even and odd pages for different sections of a document. This is great for consistency within branded documentation.
In terms of collaboration and single-source improvements, cloud integration and topic sharing for SMEs has now been included. RH11 now includes a Resource Manager tool that synchronizes folders using Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft SkyDrive as shared locations, and includes filtering for specific folders. This allows the user to manage linked resources within files used in real time across projects and geography.
The Technical Communication Suite 5.0 includes FrameMaker 12 and RoboHelp 11, but it also includes the updated products of Acrobat Pro XI, Captivate 7, and Presenter 9 to complete the Suite. You will notice that Illustrator, which was included in the TCS4 version, is not included. This was a step, Adobe said, to help lower the price. Additionally, from the way I see it, it makes sense, because both Illustrator and Photoshop–another product that used to be included in prior TCS versions–are now affordably available as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. I know that I personally have a CC subscription, and I’m guessing that many active technical communicators do too, so this saves us from spending twice for the same product, which makes a lot of sense. TCS5, FM12, RH11, FM XML Author, and the FMPS12 will also be available both as a subscription and through perpetual license as well. There is separate pricing for the FM XML Author and FM Publishing Server software.
The updates made to FrameMaker and RoboHelp are extensive, as there are many more features, but I think you get the idea. Adobe is taking steps to try to stay on top of technological changes that have taken root in the past couple of years, such as mobile and cloud technology, and is working to continue to make a more robust and user-friendly products for technical communicators.
My recommendation is that if you are looking to try TCS5 or any of the TC products out, or are interested in upgrading your current TCS package or individual products, click on the Adobe advertisement in the upper right corner of this page, or visit Adobe’s TCS product page for more information.
In less than a week from this writing, I will be doing a new webinar that I was asked to do by one of the STC Special Interest Groups (SIGs). I was really honored to have been asked, and it’s about a topic that I think I know a little something about–blogging. After all, this little webspot has been going strong for about 21 months now.
But in putting this latest webinar together, I realized that while I felt that I could whip something decent together, it’s been a while since I had to craft a webinar presentation. This, in turn, reminded me that I had a promise to fulfull, as I sought out a reference in my personal library written by one of my tech comm knitting buddies. Pulling this reference out reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write this review since last spring, but had been side-tracked several times until now–when I really needed it most.
Sharon Burton’s book, 8 Steps to Amazing Webinars, is a slim volume of only 81 pages (and that’s the end of Appendix B), but it’s loaded with very concise information. 81 pages is all you need! Considering that this is a short and concise how-to book, it shouldn’t have taken me this long to write this! I truly try to read any books that I’m asked to review cover to cover, and this was a quick but highly informative read!
There are several things I like about Sharon’s book. It’s short and to the point, as already mentioned. For busy presenters who have many things to do other than solely doing webinars, this is great resource because she gets straight to the heart of what needs to be done. Additionally, one of the things that I’ve found that Sharon and I have in common with our tech comm perspective is that our views are highly customer service-oriented. Before my life in an IT/tech comm world, I came from a customer service/client services background, so much of her advice on the how and why webinars can be great marketing tools geared towards customers made a lot of sense to me.
Sharon’s eight steps take the reader from the point of understanding what a webinar is, through every step of the process of creating and following-up with the webinar, including choosing presenters, topics, technology needed, advertisting the webinar, and all the other preparation steps to creating the webinar. She even includes pointers on how to set up the presentation slides that are most likely going to be used in the presentation.
As I read the book, I was quickly reminded of the first webinar that I did back in 2012 for Adobe’s Technical Communications group (you can find the link on the right-hand column of this blog). I remember not knowing the first thing about how to put together a webinar. At the time, Maxwell Hoffman, who is one of the evangelists for Adobe TCS, guided and coached me through the process, and it ended up being a great success. Looking back, I would not be surprised if Maxwell was already well-versed in the steps that Sharon outlines in her book, because I’m fairly sure that we followed every single step. When I also look back to the first in-person presentation I did, which lead to a recent webinar on the same topic, I realized that I had followed much of the same steps again, and got a great response as a result. These steps are practically foolproof, so I can assure you that if you follow Sharon’s advice in the book–and much of it is really common sense, you should have success in presenting a webinar.
Sharon’s viewpoint in this book is from a marketing perspective, in that webinars are used to drive people to a brand, increase leads, and provide resources to your customers. And for 99.9% of time, this is a main focus for most people who would read this book. But even for people who are academics, for example, who are not necessarily trying to create a brand, but rather disseminate valuable information, this book is still helpful because it put the reader in the right mind-set to create a virtual presentation that is meaningful for his or her audience. For example, while I am promoting my “brand” of TechCommGeekMom, I’m not really selling a product or service the same way that a software company or communications service consultancy would be. (At least I’m not at that stage yet!) Even so, I know that when I present the webinars that I’ve done, there is some sort of value based on the type of information that I’m providing. By referring back to 8 Steps to Amazing Webinars as I prepared for this upcoming webinar, I knew that I was on the right track to maximize the information that I will be delivering. It also made me reflect, based on these steps, what made for a bad webinar, and I’m sad to say that I’ve attended a few of those in my time. I think I even remember one that Sharon and I attended at the same time, and I remember us talking about how disappointed we were with that one webinar, and we had the same sticking points about it.
I highly endorse this book for its strong content and its easy-to-read, straightforward language. Anyone who is doing a webinar–or even an in-person presentation–can gain some great pointers and advice following Sharon’s advice. Hey, it’s such good advice that the book is endorsed by the STC itself, and I know that many of their best webinars follow Sharon’s methods. So that says something right there!
You can find the book on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and XML Press websites. And be sure to follow Sharon on Twitter too– she’s @sharonburton, or on her blog found at sharonburton.com. She always has good information to pass along that goes beyond just how to do webinars!
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.