Tag: Technical Communication

Marking Up The Fab Four: Just Imagine What XML Could Do For Your Books

By Alan J. Porter [This post is the first in a planned series of articles that examine how the traditional book industry could benefit from adopting XML.] Yesterday I posted on Twitter a couple of figures from the Association of American Publishers report of November 2009 book sales. The good news was that sales overall had in fact increased by 10.9%, but what really stood out was that in November of last year the sales of eBooks exploded showing a 199.9% increase and that they now account for about 2.5% of the revenue generated by book publishing. When you consider that most eBooks are cheaper than their paper equivalents, then the market share based on actual sales numbers is going to be even higher. I’m not sure why I was surprised as the industry figures in some way reflect my own recent experience. Back in September of last year I took the step of offering my biography of the Beatles’ teenage years, “Before They Were Beatles”, as an electronic book on the Kindle. As I no longer had to worry about covering print costs, carrying inventory, processing orders or shipping, I posted the book at a greatly reduced price. Sales of the electronic version have been growing each month, and on average in the last five months sales of the electronic version have out paced hard copy sales by...

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10 Irresistible Potholes Writers Find On The Road To Globalization

By Mike Dillinger, PhD, Translation Optimization Partners (with contributions from Laurie Gerber) Previously published in ClientSide News Optimizing the translation process has two basic components: improving the writers’ source texts and improving the translators’ process. For the moment, we’ll focus on the writer’s job. Dear Translator: Please remember that most writers never had any training at all about translation and usually know one lonely language. Many of them can only rely on the limited writing advice that they got in school. They’re never aware of how they can make life hellish for translators and for international readers. So, don’t...

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Usability, Mobile Devices, and the Future of Higher Education: Interview with Robby Slaughter

In this exclusive interview, business process re-engineering consultant and usability evangelist Robby Slaughter chats with Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler about web-based courseware systems, mobile computing devices, usability, and the future of higher education. Read this interview and you’ll learn why dramatic website redesigns can be detrimental to user experience, why innovation most often arises from working with something old in a new way, and what the future holds for those of us dependent on technological innovation. TCW: Robby, thanks for taking time to chat with us today. For those of our readers who don’t know who you are nor what you do, tell us a little about yourself and the company you work for. RS: I run a process consulting and methodology engineering business, Slaughter Development. We help organizations to analyze workflow and rebuild business processes through a comprehensive, bottom-up, stakeholder-driven change methodology. Since most of our business is based on individual client relationships, I mostly work with part time contractors on a project-to-project basis. There’s usually between 3-5 people actively engaged at any one time. TCW: Your website says you specialize in usability, software development, process and methodology, technical communication, and data architecture. That’s an awful lot for one man to handle. Can you tell us what tasks you are you are best suited to perform and why folks might want to consider hiring you instead of...

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Making The Move To Creating Structured XML: An Interview with Thomas Aldous

Scott: Thomas, thanks for agreeing to chat with us a little today about making the move to structured XML. For those readers who don’t yet know who you are, tell us a little about yourself and your experience in the content industry. Thomas: Thanks, Scott. I am a principal owner of a company called Integrated Technologies, better known as InTech. We began as a UNIX training company back in 1989. Within a few years, we made major inroads in the Engineering, Financial and Telecom industries. One of our first financial clients was Solomon Brothers. You may remember them. Solomon Brothers was a very large investment house that was purchased by Smith Barney, who was then purchased by Citi Bank. We had an exclusive contract to train their employees on how to use their Sun Workstations as a desktop and train their Systems Administrators how to administrate them. Solomon needed a desktop editor that was cross-platform compatible and decided to standardize on FrameMaker. They liked our training style, which is based on a system my partner created that we called “Edutainment”, which has a foundation built on the fact that you can’t teach them if they are asleep. Solomon Brothers asked us to get Certified as an Authorized Training Center and added FrameMaker Training to our contract. At this time, I was bored with only working on the business development...

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You Got Your Technology in My Typography!!!

By Jean Kaplansky It is fairly well known that content authors, graphic designers, and technical data developers often wind up at odds. XML stylesheet technology often jokingly referred to as “rocket science.” These disparate groups of individuals have a lot to learn from each other, however. Especially when it comes to the topic of single source, multiple outputs content publishing with XML. How can we cross the understanding divide between these three groups of individuals? Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler, himself, recently posted the following question to a message board: “‘XML, like movable type, is primarily an economic innovation… we can extrapolate from 15th-century reactions to movable type to guess about how the shift to XML will go.’ What do you think?” Scott came up with the question after reading Sarah O’Keefe’s “What Do Movable Type and XML Have in Common?” (PDF) article published in the December 2008 issue of Intercom, the magazine of the Society for Technical Communication. At the time I read Scott’s question I was, coincidentally, in the midst of reading Ellen Lupton’s excellent typography guide, Thinking With Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students (New York, 2004). I asked myself: just what is it about XML, and the technical publishing solutions that storing content in XML enables, that makes non-technical, design-oriented people in publishing want to run for the hills while screaming...

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