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IDW looks like an awesome event–can’t wait to go!

"It's just a dream to go to Information Development World, so I can learn more about content strategy! C'mon gang, let's go!" says Barbie.
“It’s just a dream to go to Information Development World, so I can learn more about content strategy! C’mon gang, let’s go!” says Barbie.

Last year, I was really disappointed that I couldn’t go to the inaugural Information Development World (IDW) conference in San Jose, CA.  I knew, since it’s produced by The Content Wrangler and Content Rules, that it would be a top-notch event. After reading all the reviews and commentary from my friends and content strategy colleagues about how great the event was, I was even more disappointed that I wasn’t able to go.

But it’s different this year! This year, I’M GOING! I’m pretty excited about this, because I know this is a conference that is definitely geared towards content strategists who are like me–someone who not only does content strategy, but also does content management, web design, user strategy, works with customer experience, and has a love of localization and globalization issues as well. Of course, the event is also covering other topics like content marketing, data and analytics, digital publishing,  and content engineering. The point of this conference is to help those who touch content in any way, shape, or form and want to enhance the customer experience through content experiences.  Sounds like my kind of conference, as if it was custom-made for someone like me who is still building her content-based career!

I like that there are several workshops and presentations–80 in all–to choose from. I’m sure there will the dilemma of which ones to choose at a given time slot! While looking at the IDW schedule as it’s posted at this writing, there are several sessions I will have a hard time deciding between that I’d really like to see. For example, how does one decide between Work Smarter Not Harder – Remove the Guesswork from Content Creation and By the Numbers: Making the Case for Reuse Based on Facts during the same time slot? Or how can this former Barbie aficianado miss the Mattel Case Study: Maintaining Barbie’s Brand Fidelity Region to Region presentation?  I know I’ll have to make some tough decisions between a lot of excellent topics that I’d really like to learn more about. The fortunate thing for all those who attend is that this group of presenters is the “cream of the crop”. I’ve seen several of the presenters and workshop instructors in action before, so I know that this will be time well-spent, and I will come home with my head buzzing with many great ideas and new concepts to digest!

The main focus of IDW is customer-centric–which is something that will help a lot of information developers. Having originally come from a customer service/client services background before I entered the IT/techcomm world, I tend to have a better understanding than most people, so it comes a little more naturally to me. Today, content strategy really is all about personalization and making content speak to customers in a way that it feels like the content is talking to each customer specifically. That’s not an easy task. The goal of IDW is to help everyone get a much better understanding of how this is done, and how to make it work most efficiently so that content works for you, not against you. How could you not want to learn about that?

I’m not going to miss out this year. I’m going, and it would take a lot to stop me from going. There’s too much to learn and great content strategists to meet–why would I pass this up again? I’m not making the same mistake twice! It’s a fantastic investment in ME and what I can bring to my clients.

Have you registered for IDW yet? If so, great! If not, what are you waiting for? Register today!

You can find out more about IDW by visiting their website at www.informationdevelopmentworld.com

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More localization and user-friendly features in the new Framemaker 2015

Framemaker2015BoxYou might have heard by now that there have been some updates to the Adobe Technical Communications Suite (TCS) that were released today! Both Framemaker and Robohelp have been updated significantly, while the other programs (Captivate, Acrobat, and Presenter), have had some ongoing updates as well.

Adobe held two virtual press conferences in early May 2015 to let insiders learn about these latest and greatest releases for updating Framemaker and Robohelp. I’ll start with Framemaker in this post, and post about Robohelp in a post coming soon.

The biggest take-away that I took from the Framemaker press conference was that Adobe has worked to make the application more user-friendly so little or no coding is needed, even though access to code is still available, and that efforts are continuing to push forward to make more global and mobile outputs available.

The latest version of Framemaker will be titled Framemaker (FM) 2015. The reason for this is that way, all the versions within TCS will be in synch based on the year that the version was released. So, Robohelp (RH) and the other applications will also be known by the 2015 label for this release. It makes sense, and easier to track than version 10, 11, etc. for different products.

The presentation was given by Kapil Verma, who is the Group Marketing and Product Manager for the Adobe Tech Comm line of products.

Kapil reminded us that in the last four years, there have been a lot of advances in FM, including DITA support, multichannel publishing, mobile publishing, CMS connector API, multiview XML authoring, AEM connector,  native multi-channel device publishing, FM XML author, MathML, Enhanced collaboration w/mobile and cloud based tech, and other productivity boosters. So, while a lot of upgrades and enhancements have happened in that short amount of time, further enhancements found in this update are sure to make technical writers rather happy.

What’s new in FM 2015? There are six main points that were given, and while Kapil did a “deep-dive” into each of these highlights, I’m going to be giving you the highlights of those points.

Framemaker 2015 will allow you to work faster and smarter with several core feature enhancements.

  • Working with tables is much easier and faster now. You can conditionalize columns and rows (formerly only on rows) now, and there are usability improvements to allow arrow keys to navigate cells, tab to insert rows, and drag-drop rows and columns. There are several new table styles available out of the box. When demonstrated it, looked REALLY easy, very clear, and highly flexible.
  • FM writers can now more easily work with conditional text–including applying it at the book level–due to visual indications of conditions applied on tables and graphic objects. Again, when Kapil demonstrated it, it was very clear where color coding was applied so the writer could more clearly see the associations of what conditional text applied in different areas, making it much easier to make appropriate changes and see the changes.
  • You can now generated a “mini” Table of Contents (TOC) in the middle of a document, simply by placing the TOC where you want, then easily modifying it and styling it the way you want!
  • Enhanced Word import provides more options and control, with the ability to map styles for paragraphs, characters and tables while retaining Word formatting for matched styles or inline Word formatting overrides.

Serve a global audience with new right to left language support.

  • Arabic and Hebrew are now included and supported in FM 2015! There is also leveraged support for Right-to-Left (RTL) languages and the ability to create bi-directional documents. This support for bi-directional content means that you can have both RTL and LTR (Left-to-Right) in the same document–you don’t have to choose one or the other. You can have just about any combination of languages in a document now!
  • New object direction properties for document and object such as paragraphs, tables, text flows etc. can be inherited from the direction imported from Word, whether it’s LTR, RTL, or both. You can leverage the direction inheritance model to enable 1-click flip of all objects.
  • You can publish your RTL content into multiple formats including Acrobat, HTML5, HTML, ePub, Kindle, iOS, Android, and Webhelp.

Publish for mobile devices–including mobile apps–natively.

  • FM 2015 has a brand new HTML5 layout with several enhancements, including topic descriptions and breadcrumbs, with the ability to show search results on the left panel for easier navigation. HTML5 layout comes with host of customization abilities including the easy “off/on” functions in which you can choose the component to customize, then view and customize the component properties in a visual/tabular format, allowing writers to achieve frameless outputs.
  • Writers will now be able to publish natively mobile apps using Framemaker that are iOS and Android supported, using PhoneGap:Build, which is an Adobe product. PhoneGap is available for a single app generation for free, while creating multiple apps requires a PhoneGap/CS subscription. The way it works is that once the app is created, it creates a QR code so that a user can scan and download the app, or save the info to your local drive. The content itself can be published to Google Store or iTunes.

Personalized content can be delivered dynamically to your end users.

  • Dynamic content filters are provided in the navigation for the end users to allow them what to see what they want to see. The creation of how to do this reminded me of how taxonomy tags are used in Adobe’s AEM to filter content for readers. This can be done by enabling the dynamic filter in the output, then creating and customizing with the conditional tags used in the content for the end user filter. The Dynamic Content Filter applies to all content, meaning the main content as well as TOC, topics, and search results. Existing tags can be re-used, based on existing conditional tags/expressions functionality.
  • Generate high fidelity ePub outputs by embedding your custom fonts.

XML authoring is easier now for SMEs/Contributors.

  • There was the realization that the current XML authoring workflow in FM 12 has been too complex for SMEs and other “casual contributors”, so a simplified XML authoring environment was created.  This new XML Authoring environment is ideal for SMEs, Casual contributors, and even technical writers who are new to XML/DITA,  as it was created for those who have not been exposed to XML, allowing them to work with common objects rather than elements that will always produce valid XML. The input for these users looks like a form, which is easier for most anyone to figure out.  You can create a free form authoring form, or a guided authoring form where you ask for specific info. (This looked really good, because I could see some benefits for this for a project that I’ve been working on.) This simplified form-like environment allows the end user to enter various types of content quite easily, with a simplified menu and tool bar, an enhanced quick element toolbar which mimics many of the same features as an MS Word text editing toolbar. A DITA toolbar is also provided out of the box, as well as a BYOT (build your own toolbar) feature for your custom application.
  • MathML has been enhanced so you can easily do in-line MathML equations through MathFlow Editor, pick up paragraphs properties so that the equation merges well with the surrounding text, and high quality, searchable vector (EPS) output as opposed to raster (PNG) in FM12.
  • A new connector with DITA Exchange by Content Technologies will be shared natively with FM 2015. An enhanced FM-SharePoint connector with claim-based authentication support and support for SharePoint 2013 is also available.

Enjoy a rock solid product with improved usability and performance.

  • To improve usability and performance, Adobe addressed many bugs from its prior release of FM. In fact, more than 90 bugs were corrected in this release!
  • UI enhancements include the ability to resize dialogs (both TOC, Add/edit and show/hide conditions, x-ref, conref, link-ref), conditional text checkbox behavior mentioned above, and no grey areas when you reduce pod width.
  • Performance enhancements include EDD update performance improvements (same operation has been reduced from hours to minutes!), a smart pod refresh, the FM-Adobe Experience Manager connector  has improved performance with multi-threading support), and contextual in-product tips as needed are now included.

There were SO MANY more details about these new features that I left out for the sake of the length of this post, but if you have any questions whatsoever about this new product, I highly encourage you to contact Adobe. To make it easier for you, click on the ad in the right column of this post to find out more!

As mentioned earlier, this will be part of TCS 2015, which will include the 2015 versions of Framemaker, RoboHelp, Captivate, Acrobat, and Presenter. Buying it as the Tech Comm Suite is a 57% discount from buying buying each of these separately, and you can use these in an end-to-end workflow, so it’s worth getting the entire package!

Pricing & Availability on June 2 (in USD):

Product Full Price Upgrade from last release Upgrade from 2 releases Subscription Price Languages Supported
FrameMaker 2015 $999 FM 12 :$399 FM 11: $599 $29.99/mo English, French, German, and Japanese
FrameMaker 2015 XML Author $399 (no upgrade) $19.99/mo English, French, German, Japanese
FrameMaker 2015 Publishing Server $14,999 FMPS 12: $5999 FMPS 11: $8999 $499/mo English only
RoboHelp 2015 $999 RH 11: $399 RH 10: $599 $29.99/mo English, French, German, Japanese
Technical Communications Suite 2015 $1699 TCS5: $699 TCS 4, 3, 2 or 1: $1199 $49.99/mo English, French, German, Japanese

Overall, as the main foundation product of Technical Communications Suite, Framemaker 2015 looks to be a significant update that will help provide technical writers with the user-friendly, flexible tools needed to truly create the best content possible for their end-users that serve their ever-growing global and mobile needs.

Oh, and there’s a FREE webinar on June 16th, 2015 to launch the product. If you would like to attend that, register on the Adobe Online Event site. The event runs from 11:00 AM-1:00 PM Eastern Time.

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Top 5 Tips for Creating Global E-Learning

I conferred with two e-learning experts to get their input about globalization and localization issues in e-learning. The following recommendations emerged.

Source: www.contentrules.com

Val Swisher of Content Rules, Inc. was kind enough to give me the opportunity to write another blog post for her! This time, it’s about creating global e-learning. I talked to experts Joe Ganci and Clark Quinn about their experiences creating e-learning for various companies, and got their insights.

 

There’s some good stuff here!

–techcommgeekmom

See on Scoop.itM-learning, E-Learning, and Technical Communications

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Book Review: Global Content Strategy: A Primer by Val Swisher

Image courtesy of XML Press
Image courtesy of XML Press

Anyone who has read this blog for a while knows how much I love Val Swisher of Content Rules.  Why? Well, first of all, she’s a lovely person and great friend all around. But that’s beside the point. As a technical communicator, she is one of the foremost experts on content strategy, specializing in global content strategy.  I’ve seen Val give presentations at various conferences, and the thing I like about her presentations is that while her topics might be high-level topics, someone like me who is still learning can understand what she is talking about.  I never walk away from a Val Swisher presentation without feeling like I absorbed something that I can use in my own work–or at least have a better understanding of how it fits into the content strategy field.  I have often credited Val for providing me with the ideas that have helped me get my current job and make an impact there.

So on that note, I was pleased to see that she had written a book on her specialty called, Global Content Strategy: A Primer, which is available through The Content Wrangler’s Content Strategy Series published by XML Press.  This book is easily read in an afternoon, and is loaded with a lot of information.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of hearing Val’s presentations, then this book is a great way to have many of the concepts she talks about in her presentations found in one place. She provides not only the basics of what global content strategy is, but breaks down bigger ideas into simple terms, and includes color images to provide examples, which is a good move. Val explains that globalization is not just about translating content, but also being sensitive and knowledgeable about localization as well. For example, what works in Portugese in Portugal doesn’t necessarily work for Portugese in Brazil. Translations can’t always be made word for word because of idioms and expressions that aren’t universal. Val provides many examples of this applies not only textually, but in imagery as well.

The book also talks about how the translation process can get complex and bungled without establishing a translation memory database and consistency of terminology. Val provides some pointers to help global strategists wade through these issues to keep it all straight, including what not to do as well as what best practices are.

My only criticism of the book, ironically enough, is that it doesn’t seem to be written for a global audience, but rather for an American–or perhaps North American–audience. There’s nothing wrong with that, but what if I was in another country and looking to create a global strategy? Perhaps it’s because as the Internet has grown, it has seemingly been American English-centric, and by writing for an American audience, Val has written for the group that needs to become more aware of the global audience it needs to reach!

I’ve been a team member on a global web project for the last six months or so, and I remember much of what I learned from Val had taught me to the members of my immediate team that would show that even though we were working on a North American section of a website, we had to find that balance between the global and local content. Sometimes my words were heard, and sometimes it fell on deaf ears. Upon reading this book and revisiting the concepts that I’ve heard her present in the past, I do wish this book had been given to someone at the top of the global team to understand that translation alone is not enough, and that localization makes a big difference. They could’ve used this book as a great reference to better streamline the process and the web project. Many global companies could benefit from reading this book to help put their content in perspective.

If you are looking to acclimate to the concept of global content strategy and what that entails, then this is a great resource for you to read. There are a lot of details squeezed into this slim volume that will be easy to understand, and yet you’ll feel a little overwhelmed at first at how many details one needs to consider when creating a global strategy. Fortunately, this reference book breaks it down so that it isn’t as overwhelming as it could be, and helps content strategists think in a more single-sourced, consistent way to provide the best ROI for a project.

I highly recommend this book.

You can find purchasing information about the book at XML Press:
Global Content Strategy: A Primer

Have you read this book? What do you think? Include your comments below.