Tag: Technical Communication

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

By Alan J. Porter 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 a factor of 4:1. All this sounds great doesn’t it? – On the surface it is, BUT it could be so much more....

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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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Thinking Outside the (Tech Docs) Box: Structured Authoring as Competitive Advantage

By Jake Sorofman, JustSystems From Cost Center to Value Generator There was a time when technical writing was seen as a cost center—a necessary function, but hardly a key lever for competitive advantage. This is quickly changing as globalization and hyper-competition put customers in control and organizations scramble for new and different ways to strengthen relationships. Today’s customers are the beneficiaries of virtually unlimited choice, with growing expectations for cost, quality and service. In an age of globalization and hyper-competition, the only remaining sustainable advantage comes from the customer relationship itself—specifically, the two-way conversation occurring with customers around the world and around the clock. This conversation is how relationships are formed and how they’re strengthened over time. Each and every day, customers and other stakeholders count on product documentation, marketing materials, policies and procedures, aftermarket service and maintenance manuals, and other content to do their jobs and solve their problems. This information must be accurate, consistent and accessible. When it’s not, the promise that binds the customer relationship is broken, putting loyalty at risk. Structured Authoring as Competitive Advantage Many organizations already know that customer relationships are their most valuable asset. What they may not know is that relationships aren’t built on product or cost advantages—they’re built on this two-way conversation. Relationships are strengthened and weakened slowly over time through a series of subtle and often mundane interactions. Taken...

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Component Content Management: What Is It and Why Does It Matter?

By Paul Trotter, CEO Author-it Software Corporation More and more businesses are expanding into international markets. A critical success factor for this expansion is high quality, cost-effective, and timely translated written content. Responsibility for this typically falls on internal translation departments or localization partners. Translation comes at a high price, exceeding the cost of writing the original content after only a few languages. Current approaches to localization rely on technologies and processes that have minimal scope for improvement. The localization industry is under increasing pressure to find new ways to improve cost-efficiency, quality, and time-to-market. In this article, I will try to explain what content management is and how it can help your organization more efficiently write higher quality and more effective documentation, re-use and share content across documents, have strict control over standards and branding, publishing that content to print, help, and web formats, and significantly reduce the cost of localizing your content. What is Content Management? First, there is no single agreed definition. Content management is a relatively new discipline, and if you ask the many suppliers of content management software they all have different definitions. Of course most of them make the definition suit what their software does. It is fair to say that many people incorrectly regard content management as applying solely or mainly to the management and delivery of web content. This is a...

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STC UK Announces “Content Management Day”

Organizations of all sizes are beginning to realize that managing content can help them deliver the right information, to the right audience, at the right time, in the right format. Every technical author’s dream, right? Well, not quite. Content Management is one of those keywords that everyone in the technical communication world is aware of. And although technical authors/documentation professionals are often called upon when an organization decides to go down the content management route, a lot of us are lost when it comes to implementing it. We seem to be unsure how content management fits in with our current authoring methods or even feel slightly intimidated by the challenges it presents. Whether you are just starting out in content management or are an old hand looking to refine your approach, this event is an ideal opportunity to learn from experienced practitioners and exchange experiences with fellow professionals. Learn more about Content Management...

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