Category Archives: News

Is The Technical Communication Market Really Shrinking?

Over the last decade, I have heard the warnings that “the TechComm industry is shrinking” and could slowly fade away. I also heard that no young people are joining our vocation. Also, the presentation does not matter, now that DITA XML is our savior … and more.

Let me speak to “The TechComm Industry Is Shrinking” alternate fact. I would like to quote a past co-worker and friend Chris Jastram to start to frame my stance.

“So I’ve recently come to a rather concrete understanding of the odd distinction between “facts” and “truth.” A lot of us have been taught to value facts, myself included. Unfortunately, this is a bit naive. Facts can get you in a lot of trouble. It is a fact that smoking lowers your blood pressure overall. Smoking helps you lose weight (and keep it off). These are facts, shown by science. But the truth is that smoking is bad for you. Facts are a part of discovering truth, but if you only satisfy yourself with knowing facts, you may not find truth.”

We have heard “The TechComm Industry Is Shrinking” from many software manufacturers, tradeshow presenters, consultants and bloggers in our industry. With a very limited scope, this fact could be seen as truth. We may go to tradeshows and see fewer people. Consultants may see less prospect client opportunities. The usual TechComm attendees come from large Companies that can afford to send them to these events. Their Technical Writer ranks may be shrinking due to the efficiencies of implementing structured authoring, managed content, automated workflow, and publishing. Tradeshow presenters come from both the consulting and named Company ranks. They talk about what they see in front of them. They speak about some facts, but not the truth.

I ask you to consider the possibility that most people that currently go to industry events (Tradeshows and Webinars) are the same Companies and individuals year after year. They may bounce between events, so some events may expand while others contract. We do get some new faces, but more older ones fade away. Does this mean the industry is shrinking?

No. I believe this group represents just a minuscule sampling of our industry and substantially under-represents Companies that have yet to move away from manual unstructured authoring or are still stuck in legacy structured authoring environments like ArborText with some modified version of XDocBook. Just because we do not see this group at many events, does not mean they do not exist. These are the groups that will drive our industry moving forward if we find a way to engage them. If we do, these non-early adopters are the reason I believe we are on the verge of what we will perceive as explosive growth. It is just the normal change in processes at these non-visible sites that will lead them to structured authoring, but this time in volume.

If you are experienced in XML creation, management, and repurposing, get ready for the next big new wave of opportunity!

Thoughts?

Thought Leader Thursday Season Finale! “Making the Difficult Choices” with Hoa Aldous

Here is a short promo video about our guest speaker Hoa Aldous

Join us this Thursday at 1 PM EST for our TLT Season Finale! “Making the Difficult Choices”

Our guest Hoa Aldous has led a very interesting life. Take a look at our promo video and for a preview of what host Thomas Aldous and guest Hoa Aldous will be discussing.

Register at http://bit.ly/TLT_HoaAldous

Advanced Content Assembly from DITAToo “Virtual Drive”

Press Contact:
Tiffany Aldous
tiffany.aldous@thecontentera.com
 
FOR RELEASE June 8 th , 2016:
 
Arcadia, FL – June 8 th , 2016 – Intuillion, the makers of DITAToo, have created a major advancement in the way content is managed and assembled with the addition of the “Virtual Drive” feature to the already loaded DITAToo CCMS. “It’s not always about DITA.”
 
DITAToo has been a quiet contender in the DITA CCMS market for close to 5 years now but by increasing ease of use, adding relevant modules and entering into strategic partnerships, their reputation as a must have product for the DITA community is growing rapidly. One thing that the folks at DITAToo have always understood, however, is that it’s not always about DITA. There’s a large number of content contributors outside of the Tech Comm space that don’t have a desire to move to DITA or just don’t know how so that’s why it is important to have a centralized repository that accepts all types of content.
 
Virtual Drive is the future of content assembly. It is easy to use and by changing the way companies can assemble their content, they can increase the reach of the DITAToo CCMS. You can now use Virtual Drive to incorporate ANY content into a publication. Word, unstructured FM, XML DITA, it doesn’t make a difference. Virtual Drive allows companies to continue to publish during the DITA migration process. In the past, you would have to wait to publish until it is all converted, halting publishing by up to 6 months in some cases. Now, you can incorporate any content that hasn’t been migrated to DITA yet while you migrate the rest and still publish to the web, product docs, marketing collateral etc. This will give departments like Marketing and Sales access to DITAToo by allowing them to check content in and out in a way they can understand. Since most Marketing content is usually in an unstructured format, they can now utilize DITAToo features and modules on the unstructured content just like DITA. With the addition of Virtual Drive, DITAToo is now a truly collaborative content platform.
 
Alex Masycheff – CEO, Intuillion Ltd.
 
Virtual Drive is available to anyone participating in the DITAToo 60-days free promo. New customers or anyone trying out DITAToo will have the opportunity to utilize Virtual Drive and experience why day in and day out, DITAToo becomes the right choice for content management.
 
Don’t forget about DITAToo’s 60-day free trial promotion going on right now. Go to www.aldouscms.com/promo to sign up!

Robots and Artificial Intelligence

Robot

It does not take too much imagination to visualize the world in the near future where Robots and Artificial Intelligence replace most positions within our society. The Swiss just voted down a “Basic Salary” for all its citizens. The thought was that if Robots and Artificial Intelligent Entities are going to replace human beings, Governments have the obligation to redistribute some of the Corporation’s wealth that benefit from this Mega Trend back to it’s Citizens. Due to its wealth, if Switzerland was an island, the experiment could have worked. Swiss borders are not closed but are open within the European Economic Union. Until all of the European Union Countries adopt a similar strategy making unwanted migration a non-issue, the time will not be right for the “Basic Salary” concept.

Although we always need to prepare for the future, we very much have to live in the present. The jobs shift cannot be stopped but what we can do is make ourselves more valuable within our corporations while the transition is happening. We need to ensure that we are one of the last people out the door.

Let’s look at how corporations assign value to individuals. Boards Of Directors provide goals to their CEOs. Depending on the industry, those goals could be revenue growth, profitability, market share, brand strength to name a few. Most corporations are built like a pyramid organizationally. These goals parse down to individuals that report directly to the CEO. Marketing may be charged with future revenue growth and brand strength. Sales with current revenue, Engineering with new product development and so on. The Executive Team that reports directly to the CEOs parses their goals to their direct reports and so on until it rolls down to where you are in the organization. Once you understand what’s required and what’s needed by your superiors, you can now align yourself towards those goals.

I’ve had the opportunity to lead organizations and to report to CEOs. The most frustrating thing that I had to deal with was the disconnect between the people who reported to me and their alignment to our goals. I have written them down. I have spoken to them verbally. I have tried to be creative in getting the people to understand and align. Most of the time I am successful, but sometimes I am not. The people that can’t or won’t align are the ones that get replaced.

Should we resist change or should we embrace it as an opportunity? In most cases resistance means job loss.

As the adoption of robots and artificial intelligence begin to replace our jobs. It is more important than ever to understand how we can perform our jobs in a way that aligns with our Corporate goals.

Using Tags as Lightweight Metadata in DITAToo DITA CMS

Having your content stored in a central repository is good as long as you can find what you need quickly and easily.

There’re a number of approaches to organizing content for easy retrieval. One of them is using metadata. Some organizations may have complicated taxonomies with multiple levels. While there is no question that supporting these complex metadata is important, in many cases, you may need something easier to use and maintain.

You can think of tags as lightweight metadata. Tag is a short descriptive label that you assign to a file (whatever it is – a DITA topic, map, image, or any other non-DITA file). A tag can represent whatever you want it to represent: product line, product model, release, information type, subject, you name it. Once files are tagged, you can search and filter by tags.

We’ve recorded this short video to show you how you can use tags to organize content stored in the DITAToo DITA CMS repository.

(YouTube Video): https://youtu.be/9-HMZeN9UVw 

Single Source All Your Content

The authoring, editing and publishing workflow does not have to be disrupted.

In the Technical Communication (TechComm) Industry, we have been promoting single sourcing your content workflow for a while now. What we mean by single sourcing is that source content should be authored and edited in one universal format that eventually gets published in its various output formats like HTML5, PDF, ePub, Mobile Applications, etc. You should never edit the published content directly. If a change is required to the published content, the source should be updated and republished.

This sounds good in principle, but sometimes you need variations of the same content for different publication types. The best way to handle that is by using XML with metadata for conditional publish, managed in a Component Content Management System (CCMS) with Release management and Workflow capabilities. All XML structures are not the same, so which one should you standardize your organization’s content on? Standardize is the key. Using the popular XML Standard that is built from its foundation for content reuse and customization is the right step. That XML Standard is DITA.

If you buy off on this logic, you should have a few open questions.
Can more than Technical Communication Content be single sourced? How about Market and Sales Content?

How do we convert our existing content to the DITA XML Standard without disrupting our current authoring and publishing cycle? Without TechComm, Marketing and Sales Content most products can not be sold.

I heard Component Content Management Systems (CCMS) are very expensive. How do I create an ROI case for purchase? Worse yet, what if we simply do not have the budget for an expensive CCMS? Does that stop us from being able to Single Source our content in the DITA Format? The short answer is that there is a DITA CCMS vendor that is disrupting the current market. Their CCMS costs less than $1,000 for the server license and one user license. Now you can afford to pilot an XML DITA implementation. Prove out the Return Of Investment with real data. The low Total Cost Of Ownership also makes reaching the ROI numbers your Senior Managers require easier. That CCMS is DITAToo HTTP:\\www.aldousCMS.com. Full disclosure I am an equity partner in the firm the owns DITAToo.

When it comes to … can DITA XML content being used to create Marketing Content? Visit my Companies Website at http://www.TheContentEra.com. The complete website is published from DITA topics tied together by a master DITAMAP.

If you are interested in discussing anything about this, please feel free to reach out to me at tom.aldous@TheContentEra.com.

DITAToo Free 60 Day Evaluation

DITAToo Promo

Starting today until the end of May, Adobe Framemaker users will be eligible for a free 60-day evaluation license of DITAToo DITA CMS. Plus a 15% discount off the list price of DITAToo if purchased within the 60-day trial period. If you are thinking of acquiring a CMS or looking to switch to a different one then this is the promotion for you. DITAToo is already an ultra affordable DITA CMS solution you can trust so why not try it out for free and see what all the hype is about?

Visit www.aldouscms.com/promo

to fill out the DITAToo web form and get started on a path to successfully managing your DITA content.

The Content Era redefines web creation by live transformation from DITA to their HTML5 Website

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Arcadia, FL – Feb. 19th 2016 - The Content Era has redefined the phrase ‘Going Live’ with the release of their new website, an adaptive HTML5 site based on DITA using live XSLT. Each page on the new website is created on the fly when it is accessed. Using the latest and greatest responsive web design techniques results in a visually pleasing site that is easy to navigate.

This unique method allows them to make changes to the content without having to re-publish the entire site to HTML5. The DITA source lives on the server, and when changes are made they can be viewed on the site a fraction of a second after the changed DITA source has been saved to their web-server.

“Running the transform on the server allows full adaptation to what we know about your system, your browser, your locale. Even without using cookies or JavaScript running on your device, we can personalize the content to quite a large extent. Just imagine automatic conversion of measurements and temperatures based on your geographic location, so you do not need to do the math or choose a conversion option from the menu. Of course this can be done with JavaScript, but we can do it much faster and much more efficient.” - Jang Graat – Chief Technologist (The Content Era)

“We can adapt the content to what the requesting device needs. If you are watching these pages on a smartphone, we can send low-resolution images and leave out most of the CSS and Javascript, as those are mainly serving options that you do not have available on your phone. It makes loading the pages in locations with limited mobile bandwidth a lot faster. This technology fundamentally changes the way enterprises will think about their workflow.”  - Tom Aldous – Founder and CEO (The Content Era)

The Content Era website will be live as of Feb. 18th, and will feature this adaptive publishing method running behind the scenes. This new website may involve cutting edge technical techniques but functionality and appearance has not been compromised. For more information about how it works, or to contact The Content Era team, visit their new and improved website at www.thecontentera.com.

Helpful Links:

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