SDL Webinar Series: Beyond Words – The Reinvention of Technical Documentation

July 9th, 2014 Comments off

When July 15 2014 1:00 PM (1 hour) , Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)

Free Registration

SDL invites you to join this multi-part webinar series on taking technical documentation to the next level to meet and exceed the demands and expectations of your customers.

Many organizations are now faced with the mandate to transform their publications into high quality customer touchpoints to support broader CXM initiatives beyond technical documentation. For many, contextual personalized product content also supports marketing efforts to engage with customers at all points in the customer journey. Not only does this support a company’s overall CX initiative, but it the added benefit of reducing customer support costs through easy-to-find, multi-channel, multilingual documentation.

Yes. It is about Acrolinx!

Great Style Makes Good Content Great

July 3rd, 2014 Comments off

Your company’s personality comes through the tone of voice of your content. Whether you’re selling sewing supplies or supercomputers, your corporate voice determines whether you connect with your audience or leave them cold.

Your voice may even vary based on the customers for each product. For example, you may want to keep technical jargon out of your user guides while keeping it in your systems administrator guides.

Defining Your Voice
Many companies rely on third-party style guides such as the Chicago Manual of Style or the Microsoft Manual of Style. Larger companies often develop their own style guides.

Regardless of who creates the style guide, it typically covers many language issues. The following table describes some of them.

Style Guides Cover Issues Such As:

Pronouns: second person or third person?
Contractions: prefer or avoid contractions?
Pleasantries: allow or minimize words like “please?”
Active voice: prefer active voice and minimize passive voice?
Slang: allow colloquialisms?

Most organizations produce a style guide and ask everyone to read it, learn it, and follow it.

However, compliance varies widely, and even the best writers have trouble seeing errors in their own work. You could turn your best writers into editors who check every sentence, but most companies cannot afford the expense.

In addition, style guides usually focus more on consistency than voice. Does your style guide define a target reading grade level? Does it specify a target level of readability or “liveliness?” If so, how do you measure them?

Need help with this

Categories: News, Tom's Rant Tags:

Abandoned by my new Content Marketing friend

July 1st, 2014 Comments off

I visited a Corporate Facebook page a few months back. The product that the Company was developing (Yes, it is not in production yet) seemed like a very cool piece of technology out of Silicon Valley. They said it could even save my life someday.

Cool piece of technology and it could save my life; I decided to follow the Company. Something unexpected, but much appreciated started to happen, I started to see posts in my News Feed from the Company. They provided product information, beta user experiences and even an occasional post by the Company founder.

Each day I would receive two posts, each of them filled with either a video or an interesting write-up. I grow to look forward to their posts. I started to feel like I was part of the family, and then suddenly they stopped.

At first I wondered why, but like many relationships I began to forget the flash friendship we had. I started to follow a different Product Page and soon they were forgotten.

Guess what? I suddenly started to see posts again landing on my News Feed. Honestly, it would have been better to never have started this relationship in the first place. Their restarted posts brought back my feelings of abandonment. I had to unfollow. I had no choice. They can also forget about me buying that cool tech when it comes out.

The moral of this story is that once you start a Content Marketing relationship with a prospect, you need to constantly publish new material or you may alienate the very people you are trying to attract.

Tom Aldous

http://twitter.com/@tmaldous

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tmaldous

http://tmaldous.com/

Categories: News, Tom's Rant Tags:

Acrolinx and K15t Software Announce Partnership and Product Integration

June 19th, 2014 Comments off

New Ways for Wiki Authors to Create More Findable, Readable, and Consistent Content

Santa Clara, California and Stuttgart, Germany – June 19, 2014 – Acrolinx and K15t Software announced today that the two companies have partnered to integrate their software. Based on the Confluence collaboration platform from Atlassian, the combination of K15t and Acrolinx helps writers collaborate and create documentation that’s optimized for consistency, style, terminology, and tone of voice.

Atlassian Confluence customers may take advantage of this integration by deploying the new Scroll Acrolinx Connector.

“Our mutual customers now have access to the power of Acrolinx, to analyze their technical content against corporate standards for style, tone of voice, and terminology; guide writers to improve their content; and deliver analytics that show their results,” said Tobias Anstett, CTO, K15t Software. “We’re very pleased to offer support for Acrolinx to our customers.”

Acrolinx and K15t will present the joint solution at a webinar on June 24 at 10am ET. And in September, K15t will show its integration with Acrolinx at the Atlassian Summit 2014 conference in San Jose, California, September 9-11.

Andrew Bredenkamp, Acrolinx’s founder and chairman, said, “We’re impressed with the technical documentation capabilities that K15t brings to Confluence. And now that K15t supports Acrolinx within Confluence, they’re bringing the benefits of our platform to wiki-based writers for the first time. This is a great step forward!”

“We’re delighted that K15t is helping our Atlassian Confluence customers make higher quality content, by developing a connector to Acrolinx to be available in Atlassian Marketplace,” said Nick Wade, Head of Ecosystem at Atlassian. “Our Marketplace quickly brings more than 35,000 organizations and their teams to new offerings like Acrolinx so they can share, collaborate, and get more work done.”

The Scroll Acrolinx Connector is now available on the Atlassian Marketplace, and it’s compatible with Acrolinx 4.0.

About Acrolinx
Acrolinx technology helps the world’s best companies speak with one voice – with content that’s more findable, readable, and engaging. Our content optimization capabilities help companies like Adobe, Dell, Cisco, IBM, Philips, and Siemens align, enhance, and enrich their marketing and technical information. Built on a powerful linguistic analytics engine, our technology helps our customers stand apart from their competitors by delivering content with greater warmth, readability, and conciseness. Learn more at www.acrolinx.com.

About K15t Software
K15t Software builds tools and solutions for wiki-based documentation. Their Scroll content management add-ons turn the enterprise wiki Atlassian Confluence into a platform for documentation. More than 1,800 customers around the world use K15t Software’s solutions and Atlassian Enterprise Expert services to make documentation easier for everyone. Learn more at www.k15t.com.

 

Relationships Now Built on Content

June 18th, 2014 Comments off

Buyers complete 70% of their decision process before they talk to salespeople. Until then, buyers develop relationships with companies through content.


And not just marketing content. Many if not most buyers consult technical manuals and similar information before they buy.

Companies are starting to realize that their revenue increasingly depends on content – but their content often sounds inconsistent, long-winded, pompous, and complicated.

To create content that successfully builds relationships, it must be more than consistent and accurate; it must also be warm, easy to understand, and enjoyable.

More info at http://ow.ly/ybD3s

Categories: News, Technical Communication Tags:

Acrolinx Chosen as EContent Trend Setting Product of 2014

May 30th, 2014 Comments off

Santa Clara, CA – May 27, 2014 – Acrolinx, a leading provider of content optimization software, announced today that EContentmagazine has named Acrolinx to its first annual list of Trend Setting Products.

“As the list of available tools of the digital content trade grows, it becomes more important to differentiate between the products that get the job done and the products that are staying ahead of the curve, anticipating the needs of their users,” says EContent editor, Theresa Cramer. “Here at EContent, we turned to our inboxes, to our coverage, and to our contributors to find out what those trendsetting products are in 2014.”

Acrolinx offers linguistic analytics software that guides writers to create more findable, readable, and engaging content. Its capabilities allow organizations to: 1) set up their standards for tone of voice, readability, terminology, branding, and SEO keywords; 2) work within their authoring tools to assess their content and suggest improvements; and 3) produce comprehensive analytics to help executives and managers monitor and improve their content quality and development processes.

Kumar Vora, CEO of Acrolinx, commented that, “We’re in an era where high-quality content matters more than ever to attract, retain, and delight customers. To rise above the noise, companies need to take advantage of every opportunity. We’re proud that EContent magazine has recognized that our software fills a unique role in helping companies consistently deliver superior content.”

About EContent Magazine
EContent magazine focuses on the business side of digital publishing, media, and marketing, targeting executives and decision makers in these fast-changing markets. By covering the latest tools, strategies, and thought leaders in the digital content ecosystem, EContent magazine and EContentMag.com keep professionals ahead of the curve in order to maximize their investment in digital content strategies while building sustainable, profitable business models. EContent and EContentMag.com are published by Information Today, Inc.

About Acrolinx
Acrolinx technology helps the world’s best companies speak with one voice – with content that’s more findable, readable, and engaging. Our content optimization capabilities help companies like Adobe, Dell, Cisco, IBM, Philips, and Siemens align, enhance, and enrich their marketing and technical information. Built on a powerful linguistic analytics engine, our technology helps our customers stand apart from their competitors by delivering content with greater warmth, readability, and conciseness. Learn more at www.acrolinx.com.


MadCap Flare 10

May 30th, 2014 Comments off

Review by Pam Coca

It is a well-established fact that MadCap Flare users are more groupies than ordinary users. Most of us spent so much time in the trenches fighting for software support or trying to do things that the software couldn’t, that when we discovered Flare, we celebrated and immediately became umbilically attached to our rescuer. It seems that is the case whether we started with Flare 7 or Flare 9 or Flare anything. Finally: software that does what we tell it to do. What a concept!

So it shouldn’t be a surprise when the company that makes the product listens to our list of ridiculous desires and delivers on them. But it is. Each and every version of Flare blows away the last. And Flare 10 is no exception.

One of the reasons Flare groupies adore the product is the ability to have all our content housed and worked on in a single location (think re-use/re-purpose) and then to be able to publish it to whatever media we want from there. But what if we could have that content automatically resize itself to fit the output medium; as in tablets and cell phones. Yes, you heard me. The industry catchphrase is “responsive output” and Flare 10 has it. The HTML5 skins in Flare 10 allow you to deliver device appropriate output to your users!

There is even an interactive preview so you can click each medium and see what it will look like. If there is something you aren’t happy with…just turn on the highlight button. Then click an item you might want to change to see its style in the left panel.

And on the subject of how things look in Flare, the start page has a whole new look and there are 20 new project templates that I bet you never thought you’d see in Flare. There are templates for multi-page brochures, eBooks, and more. Some are print only, some are online only and some are for both. I was lucky enough to get one of Nita Beck’s handouts at MadWorld 2014. Flare groupie, Nita supplied her audience with tri-fold brochures (for PC and for Mac) containing lists of Flare 10 shortcuts.  Nita said, “To create the brochures, I started with the Flare 10 factory template called 3Fold_Brochure. Then it was very easy to adapt it for my own needs.” Nita + Flare 10 = awesome. The brochures are fabulous! [http://beck-communications.com]

Slideshows are another newbie in Flare 10. Turn your project into a slideshow or put a slideshow in your project. Find and Replace has been updated to include whole word searches and the ability to save the searches as csv files. Quick Find and Quick Replace widgets integrated into the text editor let you search for text in the file that is open. Flare 10 lets you use Open Type fonts so you can match your marketing materials to your technical docs (PC or Mac). You can rotate body frames and add rounded borders to jazz up your user guides, use the new wizard for importing HTML files into a new project as well as an existing one, automatically re-size Capture callouts in the new project to make sure all of the text is seen; the list goes on and on and on.

Personally, I think this version of Flare has the most changes, enhancements and features of any previous version. These guys must stay up night just thinking of ways to please us. Rock on MadCap!

Categories: News, Technical Communication Tags:

Review of FrameMaker 12 – “Smart authoring meets new-age publishing”

April 25th, 2014 Comments off

So it’s almost instinctive for me to follow every release of FrameMaker and keep up with all the action. And this release being no exception to that, I had a chance to lay my hands on the newly released FrameMaker 12 over the last weekend.

 

I spent considerable time playing around and digging my hands deep into this latest release. My first reaction is that there’s quite a bit packed into FrameMaker 12 – some very significant changes along with a variety of smaller but very effective upgrades and improvements.

 

In a nutshell, this release provides several across-the-board improvements while focusing strongly on new capabilities and workflows for present-day publishing needs. Read on to deep dive into the details.

 

 

New and modern UI

Having seen several interface changes along the way, and some very drastic ones at that, the FrameMaker 12 interface did not jolt me with a completely new look. However, it did make me sit up and take notice – it’s cleaner, easier on the eye, and looks completely enlivened. I’ll credit the cheery looking interface to the new colorful icons – they give the whole interface a sprightly pop of color.

If you, however, prefer the old monochromatic look, you can always switch back to the regular greyscale icons. You also have an option to play around with the icon sizes, and choose from small or large-sized icons.

Apart from the aesthetic tweaks, I found a good bunch of functional improvements that are worth calling out.

 

Close and open multiple files in a snap

There’s a nifty Currently Opened Files dialog that lets you view, save, and close all open files in a single- click. I can imagine this feature getting a “God bless you” reaction from a harried technical writer chasing a deadline and working on half a dozen files.

Numerous user experience improvements

I also liked the addition of the Quick Element toolbar that lets you quickly insert commonly used elements in your structured authoring environment. Other useful improvements include the ability to drag and drop files in empty UI areas, a button to quickly close pods and panels, and the ability to minimize or maximize empty areas by simply double-clicking.

 

Overall, the interface changes are just perfect for a better experience — looks good, helps you work faster and better, and not drastically changed to make you feel like you have to relearn everything from scratch.

Reach your audience anywhere

A few years ago, saying that your content would be insignificant unless mobile-ready would be met with strong skepticism. Today, when we carry the Internet in pocket-sized devices, that statement is no longer debatable.

 

At a time when many Technical Publications departments are struggling to cope with cross-media publishing requirements, FrameMaker takes a huge step forward by letting you publish to print, Web, mobile, and e-reader devices with a single powerful workflow.

 

This new publishing workflow that lets you create eBooks directly from FrameMaker is a move in the right direction. Until now, the only way you could publish FrameMaker content to EPUB formats was by using RoboHelp’s eBook publishing capabilities via the TCS integration. But this was possible only with the additional task of mapping FrameMaker formats to the RoboHelp equivalents. Given the strict standards for EPUB, this was by no means a straightforward process.

 

The good news is that FrameMaker now makes eBook creation perfectly straightforward with an elegant workflow and powerful customization options. I was pleasantly pleased (and surprised) to note the level of customization that is offered with this workflow – making it almost effortless to publish highly stylized content to HTML5, Amazon Kindle, and EPUB formats with different specifications and across different form factors.

 

 

XML-only authoring

It’s long been on the wish list of many users to have an easy to use XML editing interface -a simplified XML editor without the trappings of the Unstructured mode of FrameMaker. Looks like Adobe has heard them loud and clear.

 

FrameMaker now offers a fully standards-compliant XML editor to create content based on DITA or any other custom structure. The FrameMaker XML Author provides a lightweight interface with just the necessary tools required for XML authoring.

 

FrameMaker XML Author is especially helpful when you collaborate with casual XML authors, like reviewers and subject matter experts, who need a simple intuitive interface to create content. What I really like about this feature is that while it’s been designed to be a WYSIWG XML Editor, it still offers you the choice of switching to an XML Code view.

 

You can purchase FrameMaker XML Author as a separate standalone product or use it in FrameMaker XML Author (FXMA) mode within your regular FrameMaker interface. If you belong to a Tech Pubs

 

department where authoring and publishing are distinctly separate groups, having a standalone FrameMaker XML Author would serve you well. Not only will it suit your needs but it’ll also be lighter on your pocket than the full version of FrameMaker.

 

 

Much-coveted MathML support and advanced XML authoring capabilities

FrameMaker’s inability to handle MathML equations has been its Achilles’ heel for a long  time now. In the past, some users said that they’d turned away from integrating FrameMaker as a full  XML editor simply because there was no easy way to work with math equations in FrameMaker.

 

Not any more – with this release, FrameMaker proves all its naysayers wrong. With its integration with MathML from DesignScience, you can work with math  equations in both FM XML Author and the full version of FrameMaker beautifully. When you copy and  paste MathML code into FrameMaker from an external editor, FrameMaker recognizes the math equations within the MathML code and handles the equations flawlessly.

 

MathML

 

 

Apart from MathML support, FrameMaker has enhanced its XML authoring capabilities overall. The XML editor is less cluttered, you can preview topic content from within a DITA map, and white space is handled much better than before.

 

By providing compete support for MathML code and all these powerful enhancements in the XML authoring space, FrameMaker is now an even more powerful XML editor.

 

 

Smart authoring gets smarter

FrameMaker 12 brings several significant enhancements that streamline your authoring workflows and improve your productivity.

 

Enhanced Smart Catalog

The Smart Catalog in FrameMaker lets you find and insert valid catalog elements quickly and easily. Typing the first few characters of the format, tag, style, or element name in the Smart Catalog will filter the list and quickly locate what you’re looking for. FrameMaker provides you handy keyboard shortcuts to insert the catalog elements. This feature is a major time-saver and a great productivity booster.

 

 

 

Talking of productivity boosters, FrameMaker now lets you restore your last session in just one-click. FrameMaker can reopen the view, the workspace, and the last document in focus — replete with pods and palettes from a previous session.

 

Enriched Search

FrameMaker’s Search capabilities have been given a complete overhaul with this release. The noticeable change includes expression-based search capabilities. You can now search for and replace regular expressions as easily as you would do with simple text. Search now also supports expressions/strings for three programming languages – PERL, EGREP, and GREP.

 

Easy QR code generation

Stepping outside the boundaries of conventional content authoring features, FrameMaker provides you the capability of creating and editing QR codes all from within FrameMaker. QR codes have become so popular and commonplace in promotional and advertising content, that I wasn’t entirely surprised to see this feature.

 

 

More effective single sourcing

Conditional Text has always been a strong feature of FrameMaker. Building on this further, FrameMaker now provides a new Conditional Text pod. The Conditional Text pod makes it easier to create and manage conditional text settings with a simple check-box mechanism.

 

 

FrameMaker does a neat job in guiding you with building complex conditional expressions by validating the expressions as you build them. Effective visual clues and the ability to use parentheses in Boolean condition expressions makes building complex conditional expressions seem like a breeze now.

 

 

Shared reviews and collaborations on-the-go!

Reviews play a pivotal role in any author’s life, and any efforts to make the review process more flexible for both the author and the reviewer are always welcome.

 

Greater power to PDF reviews

Knowing the popularity of shared PDF reviews, FrameMaker makes more value-added enhancements to this workflow: you can change the source in FrameMaker while its PDF output is being reviewed and still import review comments correctly. And to keep up with the mobile-savvy reviewers, FrameMaker supports adding comments to PDF-based reviews directly from a mobile device.

 

Content on the cloud

With the changing times, more and more users use DropBox to share and access content on-the-go. Especially when you need to share a bunch of files securely with a group of people outside your network file share, DropBox is a good and popular choice. FrameMaker now provides a direct integration with DropBox making it easy to share your content with both internal and external reviewers.

 

 

Automated Web publishing using FrameMaker Publishing Sever

Clearly this release is all about building on strengths and delivering new features that are most essential to present-day publishing needs.

FrameMaker Publishing Server 12 integrates seamlessly with three industry-standard CMS: Adobe AEM, Documentum , and SharePoint.

 

FrameMaker Publishing Server 12 can also now be provided as a Web service to publish content over the Web. The publishing process can be automated, reused, and allow multiple users to publish simultaneously.

 

The FrameMaker Publishing Server also provides you a new Web API that lets you build an integrated publishing workflow from any CMS to FrameMaker Publishing Server 12.

 

I can evidently see the benefits of these enhancements in large-sized organizations that handle high volumes of content and need automated publishing workflows that produce consistently high-quality output.

 

Other noteworthy improvements

Like I mentioned at the beginning, this release is packed with several enhancements. And there are some very notable ones, like these, which I’ve not covered in detail:

 

  • a redesigned template browser and new samples including a DITA sample,
  • integration with several popular content management systems in the XML and DITA space,
  • integration with Adobe Experience Manager for efficient digital asset management,
  • and much more.

 

While I would love to get into the nuts and bolts of all these features, I found some excellent resources from Adobe that talk of all the features in good detail. So, I’ll list them down here for you to read through:

 

FrameMaker What’s New

 

FrameMaker Using guide

 

FrameMaker Reviewer’s guide

 

Overall verdict

FrameMaker 12 is a big step forward from FrameMaker 11 with some fantastic new features that improve your authoring and publishing workflows, make you more productive, and most importantly meet all your new-age publishing needs.

 

With this release, Adobe has proved yet again that they’ve been listening to the users and the community and making enhancements in the most substantial areas as well as those little things that make a difference.

 

While it’s always difficult to choose a single authoring tool that meets the need of each and every user, I’m happy to say that FrameMaker 12 has surely arrived as the most viable authoring tool of the future. FrameMaker is ready to take on the publishing needs of the new-age world with much élan!

Xyleme and Acrolinx Announce Product Integration

April 22nd, 2014 Comments off

Xyleme Integrates with Acrolinx to Optimize Readability, Accuracy, and Consistency of Learning Content

http://bit.ly/1jDAVTt

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Santa Clara, California and Boulder, Colorado – April 22, 2014  Xyleme and Acrolinx announced today that the two companies have integrated their software. Organizations that use Xyleme can now use Acrolinx to optimize their content directly within Xyleme LCMS (Learning Content Management System).

 

Xyleme LCMS allows organizations the ability to author, manage, publish, and deploy learning content across all print, online and mobile formats. The combination of Acrolinx and Xyleme’s single-source approach ensures granular content is consistent and compliant across output formats.

 

“The ability to integrate the content structure and control provided by Xyleme with the quality assurance and standardization afforded by Acrolinx is what we need to maintain a steady development pace without sacrificing quality or consistency,” commented Gary Scott, Content Development Manager at Esri.

 

“Our customers want to deliver training content that their audiences can quickly understand,” explained Monica Kraft, Director of Product Marketing at Xyleme. “However, during the content development process, problems can arise that reduce comprehension. For example jargon, inconsistent terminology, and overly complicated phrasing can all contribute to confusion and misunderstanding. Multiple customers indicated they wanted to use Acrolinx to alleviate these problems, and now they can!”

 

Tom Aldous, Acrolinx’s SVP of Global Operations, commented, “To deliver a consistently high-quality customer experience, our customers want to use Acrolinx to help them speak with one voice across all their customer-facing content. Xyleme has expanded the reach of Acrolinx to a vital sphere: training and educational material. We’re delighted with this integration, especially since Xyleme is a leading company in its field.”

 

The integration is available now. For more information, please contact Xyleme or Acrolinx.

 

About Xyleme

Xyleme, Inc. is the leader in standards-based learning content management solutions that enable single-source publishing and personalized delivery of training content. Xyleme’s learning platform enables companies to author, manage, publish, deploy and measure learning from the cloud with Xyleme LCMS and Bravais® — the integrated product suite used for XML-based online courseware, instructor-led training and performance support content from any LMS, web portal or mobile device.  The built-in “Tin Can” Learning Record Store (LRS) captures all learner activities and includes rich Analytic Dashboards complete with an open API.

 

About Acrolinx

Acrolinx technology helps the world’s best companies speak with one voice – with content that’s more findable, readable, and engaging. Our content optimization capabilities help companies like Adobe, Dell, Cisco, IBM, Philips, and Siemens align, enhance, and enrich their marketing and technical information. Built on a powerful linguistic analytics engine, our technology helps our customers stand apart from their competitors by delivering content with greater warmth, readability, and conciseness. Learn more at www.acrolinx.com.

 

Categories: News, Technical Communication Tags:

The Content Plumbing Is In

April 3rd, 2014 Comments off

You have been working on your Content Plumbing for all these years. Automating processes have been a reasonable quick win. So Workflow, Content Reuse, Dynamic Publishing, and Leveraging Rich Media is now behind you. Now it is time to look at what is flowing through that Content Plumbing.

What Is Flowing Through Your Content Pipeline?

Acrolinx is all about improving your Content Quality through the use of our Artificial Intelligence Linguistic Rules Based Engine.

Request a demo today. 

 

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