Month: February 2007

SlideShare: Understanding Simplified Technical English

The folks at Tedopres International have made available this slide presentation desk on Simplified Technical English (STE) available for your review. Simplified Technical English standardizes vocabulary and style, aiming to improve consistency, eliminate ambiguity and reduce complexity. It also provides objective criteria for quality control. Simplified Technical English includes a general dictionary and a set of writing rules. It’s a hot topic among technical communication professionals and a good starting point for those hoping to adopt content...

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Doing Today’s Jobs WIth Yesterday’s Tools

If you’ve ever felt trapped by technology—limited by the information management capabilities of software products—you’re not alone. Patrick Dubroy can feel your pain. “While the amount of information that the average person deals with has increased dramatically in the last 20 years,” Dubroy says, “file systems have hardly changed at all.” What we need, he says, is “a system that will make it easier to manage and navigate the large amounts of rich and diverse information that people deal with every day.” In an article for Boxes and Arrows, Dubroy proposes a new “information management platform” that is built on a common information management framework that other applications can build upon. “Having a common platform for developers to build upon would give us greater consistency between applications—they would have the features we expect, and these features would work in the same way,” Dubroy writes. “Integration between applications would be much easier, as they would have a lingua franca for exchanging rich information. Different kinds of data could be mixed together, allowing users to easily organize their data in a way that makes sense to them.” Read the...

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How To Create A FAQ Page Your Customers Will Love (And Might Even Use)

By Rahel Anne Bailie, special to If you think a FAQ page is where customers find handy information about their needs, a place where customers go to look for answers to frequently asked questions, think again. In an informal survey of infrequent to always-on computer users, respondents unanimously agreed that FAQ pages were generally of little to no use in actually answering their questions. The feedback included frank comments: The information isn’t organized so I can find anything. I keep going around in circles. It’s just recycled information from the site. I don’t know whose questions they’re answering, but it’s never my question. I stopped looking at FAQ pages because they’re usually useless. What FAQ pages have become are elephant graveyards of non-information, the equivalent of the Miscellaneous file folder, the place where information-we-didn’t-know-where-to-put was dumped. The challenge of creating a FAQ page that customers will find useful has several aspects to it, but can be accomplished with a lot of planning and a little strategic work. Step 1 The first step toward creating an FAQ page is to understand what an FAQ page actually is. FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions, and implied in that acronym is that the questions are frequently asked today. Frankly, if you’re still answering the same questions today as you were last year, your customer will likely assume that the problems your...

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New DITA Users Organization Aims To Help Writers Author DITA Content

DITA Users, a new individual membership organization for folks interested in the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA), has been announced. For $100 US you can become a member. According to the organizers, the value of membership includes: Your own DITA workspace folder and the ability to create DITA documents using the built-in DITA Storm web-based editor or your choice of desktop editor Access to and collaboration with other DITA Users with similar interests Access to working demos of software that supports DITA Discounts on DITA conferences, workshops, and seminars The organization will also offer members discounts on “DITA Mentor support” (chat, phone, or screen share). The cool factor: A free online demo of DITA Storm (the DITA-based wiki) and DITA Open...

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Web Content Management: Is Your Data SaaSafe?

By Diane Wieland, special to Shopping for a content management system (CMS) can be challenging. With hundreds of self-defined CMS vendors offering myriad solutions to choose from, it’s safe to say that selecting the right system for the job can be fraught with obstacles. Attempting to decipher and understand the CMS marketplace means mastering terminology and industry jargon used by software marketers, consultants and other industry insiders. One concept that is increasingly associated with content management is Software as a Service (SaaS), sometimes referred to as “hosted” or “on-demand” content management systems. SaaS is an alternative to purchasing traditional software licenses and installing programs directly onto your servers or individual PCs. Instead, content management systems that follow the SaaS model are hosted remotely—by the software vendor—and are delivered to end-users on a subscription basis over the Internet. This model is being adopted by software vendors attempting to get their slice of the content management market. Analysts predict the on-demand method of delivery is the way most software will be provided to users in the future. They predict established CMS vendors will increasingly move away from traditional software sales models to the SaaS model. Some have already done so. For organizations hoping to make the move to content management, selecting a CMS that is delivered as a service is an attractive option for many reasons, most of which are...

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