Camp is Over! Winners and Wrap Up!

Thanks to everyone who was able to participate in this year’s TC camp! Here’s a shout out to this year’s winners!

Michael Hahn who came all the way from Kansas, won some glow sticks read “Awesome” for going the distance! You really are awesome Michael!

June Harton won glow sticks that read “Cool” for finding new places to publicize TC Camp.

North Bay Communicators brought a bus full of people all the way from the north bay (north of San Francisco) and they won a package of glow stick necklaces to wear on their journey home in the dark!

Susan Allen won the coveted Smores’ Maker for having the most social media promotions in the most channels! We hope you enjoy your tasty morsels of chocolate marshmallow heaven Susan!

Smores MakerWe were so excited with all the positive feedback from TC Camp that we wanted to share some of the comments left on the evaluation forms!

  • “Wonderful networking opportunity. Excellent presenters, panelists. The unconference format offered us a chance to cover a lot of material and explore a number of topics.”
  • “Great time management. Great topic discussions and food and drinks!”
  • “Nice Vibe.”
  • “Small focus groups. Best $30 spent for the knowledge gained. Collaborative and friendly. Excellent ideas which can be used immediately.”
  • “Spontaneous management and unconference like atmosphere.”

Notes from the camp are now published! Check them out!

  • Session 1– How to use video effectively- HTML 5- Reusing content  with tech pubs, training, marketing support and other organizations-Strategies for using Bookmaps and maps in DITA-Deep Dive into Adobe TechComm Suite5-Writing/formatting best practices
  • Session 2-Visual presentations, writing content that isn’t text- Going mobile- Techinical Editing Fundamentals- Thinking like a librarian- Controlling/harnessing MS Word in the move to XML- Content vs. Documents
  • Session 3– Jobs/job search: How to break into a new industry; portfolios and how to construct them-Deciding what goes into a doc or mobile version of an enterprise software app-Documenting APIs-Metadata and categorization strategies-Taking your content strategy to rest of org- Improving Search
  • Session 4– Leveraging LinkedIn-Content Architecture and Design- Document Review Process- DITA vs. Docbook- TC and Agile- Writers and product usubility

Session 4 Summaries – 25 January 2014

Leveraging LinkedIn

Scribe: R. AYALA

  • LinkedIn Issue maybe too many people asking to be invited Responded to uninvited.
  • How do you leverage
  • Resume
  • Documents you have authored. Profile length does not matter recommendations are important, cooperative 3 job entries
  • 2-3 recommendations very important, makes recruiting happier. Recommendations can be denied or not used.
  • People have too many recommendations. Too many endorsements maybe getting too many. Be overt about getting support from last job, currency insight from peers, a major plus. Need evidence from former coworkers, recommendations.
  • Pay premium: suitcase icon looking suppress you want to be anonymous go into option, profile to none, and to first level.
  • Recruiter look at site giving a talk to use as an advertisement make you much more visible suppress people you viewed, embed key words into your profile basic ‘SEO’ key points.
  • Leveraging
  • Forums – Keep up to date meet new people 2008-2009 layoffs, keep in touch with old friends
  • Research what people are doing evaluation, look at dialogue and links to
  • Job boards – jobs are sometimes 350 for 30 days
  • Proactive recruiting identify key people, go out and find people, getting contract workers two way tool – recruiting people moving around a lot of lateral moving, keep profile up to date.
  • Look up company and look for key people, news tailored to certain customize rolodex, concern about privacy change profile, before contact info. Be careful and keep updated.
  • Recruiters use LinkedIn a lot
  • Profile complete and current
  • Portfolio easy accessed that is not difficult to see.
  • 7,000 – 10,000 a year paid, people don’t want to found privacy is strong on
  • Membership levels can be huge, keep profile current premium attachment stating differ gears part open LinkedIn network “lions” open network people
  • Use key words very important in profile. Populate with key words, need to be sound, make yourself more visible by making recruiter work easier.
  • Big Data, Mobile primary tool for recruiters. They are not capable. Search on Key terms, be very specific, need to stress the key job entries. Don’t recite responsible. Stay projects and skill set.
  • Privacy issues on your profile, make sure you don’t give away too much information.
  • Conceptual reference 3-5 content
  • Index
  • Table of Content
  • Don’t name product or substitute important TM with DISNEY
  • Portfolio: put disclaimer
  • Tech support, Help me
  • Quantity specific actions
  • Writing is needed, looking for quantifiable outcome.
  • We need to stress the desired outcome with these results.
  • Blog posts need to show numbers of visitors.
  • LinkedIn will help you get a new job. Brag about this experience where you helped your company.
  • How did you find a way to develop and show that you have transferable skills to possible jobs.
  • We can stress your attitude in overcoming challenges at previous job.
  • Playing up: On LinkedIn we have continued Education. Can share about workshop @ TC CAMP “I can be proactive”
  • For profit,
  • Be careful with blind calls from people you don’t know. They asking to mine your network. LinkedIn premium for a month.
  • Suitcase visible, in mail
  • Send message to anyone not connected
  • In mails obligated to see
  • Long list of people to use
  • Re-use with list.
  • Must elect to use suitcase
  • Introduction: is a request to see a person
  • Referral: request to be in network
  • Recommendation: from former coworker and can help them clarify with letter.
  • Span: endorsements are not counted for much you are trying to connect to these people.

Content architecture and design

Scribe: tonie

Who has control architectures?

  • Documentation based on implementation/industry
  • S1000D standard (data modules)
  • Existing SharePoint structure
  • Examples = structuring information templates

Way to get a handle organization

Mike Biggers says TOC locks you into structure

Content vs. context / movie example

Google, etc. statistically figure out the content that will make you happy

Getting away from book paradigm is hard

Useful chunks

Publishing – printers with duplexing – compare 3 not the same as books

Distributed model = smaller chunk than a chapter or book


  • Exchanging info with another entity
  • Existing tools and techniques
  • Accept a standard so you don’t have to define one
  • Outside of unmonitored
  • Wiki– no one is responsible for the content; content junkyard

Document review process

Jac – Review process

Small firm merging to big firm – challenge how the review can happen

Dave Gardner – N+N/30 yrs of TN

  • Different places
  • Cisco systematic plan
  • EDCS
  • Review process is in both level of hierarchy review process.
  • Look into the document. Keep track of changes

KYOCERA – English to Japanese – Translate, submit – Japan

  1. Feedback
  2. Technical
  3. QA Review
  4. Freeze

Susan – Betterway

  • Review process from QA/Engineer
  • REST A PI – Technical
  • Review (Technical Review) was a process

1998 – Cisco had process

  • Information gathering – is easy – Review existing documentation
  • A new person is trained well in cisco review process
  • Editorial Review within team
  • Technical Review is done by Engineering
  • Disagreement was solved by Engineers
  • Have interpersonal skills to finish the review the documents
  • Have informal review process and build rapport
  • Share PDFs on server and it sends a link to PDF
  • Have the rule, how the process
  • Chunk the information the review
  • Page review
  • Online review
  • User feedback was given to author
  • Direct user feedback helps author to analyze and improve writing (technical) Doc Review
  • Interesting
  • Educational Process

DITA vs. Docbook

Scribe: Victor Buccieri

Docbook 2000 elements/DITA 500 elements.

Conversion to Docbook (fm ???) was easier than DITA.

Docbook Constriants ??? Inability to easily change minor elements within ??? (below 5 levels down)

Filtering, text entities and file entities discussed.

Dita solutions include filtering and ???

Bob Staton ??? Bush experts.

  • Topic Based Authoring eliminates the numbering and a steep learning concept for non-XML formats.
  • Mini maps allows you more ??? re-use
  • Discussions also discussed customization and types of style starts you consideration
  • CSS and FO differences discussed at length
  • DocBook is letter used for less ??? and re-use.
  • DITA and ??? are letter ??? you more variations and re-use of content

Common source Database

TC and Agile

  • Definition of Agile: Small iteration cycles/rapid changes + incremental
  • Need to tech writers
  • Need roadmap of what product can do before starting (collaborative with team)
  • So that whole team commits to each “sprint” goal


Either (1) Everyone pitches in to get doc done by each sprint (if needed)

(2) TC commits to “placeholders” + lags behind a couple sprints

Agile is great for:

  1. Quick changes with developing products that need to change if design doesn’t work
  2. Enables rapid feedback as to what we’re doing is
  3. Small iteration cycles/incrementing
  4. For TC-Doc is no longer an after thought
  5. Fix “the pain” if there is any

Writers and product usability

Scribe: Wendy Shaffer

  • Weaseling in – your entry point
  • Error message, labels, on screen help
  • Be involved in the design process – tech. writers often get involved too late.
  • Usability is about time – an unusable product steals time. (Eric)
  • Build alliances with user experience team.
  • Importance of demonstrating value.
  • – articles on showing value viral marketing and social media – a bad product creates bad vibes and good usability creates butt.
  • Metrics
  • User success is the most important metric.
  • Style guide for design
  • Web applications can give you metrics about whether the user completed the task.
  • Example: ecommerce site – did the user complete their purchase.
  • Ten hundred word editor – write text using only the thousand most common words in the English language
  • How to train QE people to do usability testing.
  • Agile – it is very dependent on an effective user advocate being in the room during the demos.

Three principles:

  1. Consistent
  2. Minimal
  3. Familiar

General Assembly in San Francisco teaches weekend classes in usability

Don Norman, “The Design of Everyday Things”

Session 3 Summaries – 25 January 2014

Jobs/job search: How to break into a new industry; portfolios and how to construct them

  • How to break into a new Industry: portfolio and how to construct them who should be technical writers?
  • Is this a growth industry? Some lucrative, domain, gaming well-paying profession goes with the level of the industry.
  • Program graduate looking for more experience
  • Traditional Tech shop how to transition into new direction
  • What teams need to know or different skill sets
  • Recruit, Andrew Davis in Silicon Family what skills are applicable, think, create relevant content understand proper Audience
  • how Portfolios are created and accessible.
  • Media concepts Video Portfolio
  • Should be online, Phone interview
  • All content, linkedin membership
  • Examples, show context need to specify, limit liability, project over weeks
  • University work how to frame work
  • Disclaimer: to what would you have done differently. How am I better. Before/After work, Redline critical eye important need to be careful, redact, use x replace content with fake
  • State the problem objective, how did you create, 2 to 3 pages concise, table of contents glossary, written for different users, showing range don’t give too much proprietary information.
  • E-learning for Video content, training make companies, structure instructional classes
  • former manger, publisher, transition into project manager.
  • Bio-tech 20 – below mark pay
  • IT and Engineering Department where to start
  • Marketing has money now
  • Technical background important
  • Hide information, make content cover letter these jobs, take skills to new job
  • Grad. School technical writers information interview SDC contribute Silicon Valley SDC San Jose, meet on Monday Jan. 27 (more focus on certification is needed). Content meta data specialist. Technical Content Manager. Use screen shots of work need to be careful. ‘Content Audit’ important concept. Start as a consultant ask Jas, information
  • Joanne Lasselle good contact
  • People working on changing careers, c-suite valued
  • Hot market, Big Data, Mobile
  • Open source
  • Great documentation, very detailed and sophisticated astounding pay to use wikis, markdown, open source (not non profit)
  • Regulated work in companies, content similar in other companies.
  • How to Break into a New Industry
  • Link SV
  • Venture capital
  • Seed level
  • Linked into list
  • Help preparing presentations
  • Help engineer to ??
  • Collaborate with new companies, companies need help with skill set, buy $10 a day. 1,000 characters on what company does
  • Start ups don’t know what to do. Big opportunity 17 categories, for us to break into partnership
  • Humor, Politics, all professional work
  • At URL: Personal Interests not good liability, not important. Never include personal, Health you volunteer.
  • Age discrimination no clues to location, do Region Don’t live in area, don’t put City Ghost phone number for area New York, New York area code.

For more information

Product details:

upgrade details:

Deciding what goes into a doc or mobile version of an enterprise software app

This session had no attendees, see notes on go mobile discussion.

Documenting APIs

Scribe: Karen Aidi

  • REST APIs, 3rd parties can
  • What does good API look like? Is there a common standard? No – it’s all over the map.  Take a look at the programmable web for examples. What are consumers of APIs looking for?
  • Programmers seem to want to scroll endlessly instead of clicking of API doc.
  • Click insanity – Brandon Phillips backs up this point of view.
  • Depends on what code you have to document
  • Does the writer need to be a programmer to write code samples? No, not necessarily.
  • Many job descriptions seem to want writers to write code samples.

Tom Johnson actually does write JavaScript code examples.  However, he writes very simple examples.  Joanne Grey uses a USB recorder that creates an MP3 file and then she listens to it over and over again.  Some writers leverage their existing code.  There are classes on APIs,; Jim Bisso is giving a workshop on it.  Google code review can be open source explorer tool: Swagger used for doc review purposes. Don’t use JSON; you can transform.

Are there any strategies in creating code samples? It helps to be able to run the tool yourself. Is there a code reviewer tool? Twitter has well written API documentation template structure and uses no tech writers.  Many companies have a notion of private versus public APIs. It is, therefore, possible to turn API documentation into a formulaic structure.  It’s important to leverage code samples from company blogs, etc.  it is surprising that there are not more classes in API documentation. Write the docs conference à this is a conference for developers to encourage other developers to write.  Look at query. What are some of the best practices? Look at Google, twitter, QA is a great help in figuring how. Twillo is a good example to look at.

Metadata and categorization strategies

Scribe: Richard mateosian

  • Around the table:
  • Lufkin: sit in. interested. Stuff on computer categorized
  • Luke Lyons: reuse graphics – can’t because graphics folder is under individual doc.
  • Tom Magliery: 30K photos in folder – not so good. Tool doesn’t do it. Looking for best practices.
  • Doug may – proofing since young. Doesn’t want to reproof. Wants tool that helps training.
  • Susan aged – does tagging on user community
  • Gwaltney Mountford – navigate while aggregating reports
  • Lori cookie – using SharePoint.  Wants to find stuff.
  • Robin smith – works with Luke. Took course from librarian.  Looking at what users might ask. How would you organize refrigerator
  • Tom – hierarchy doesn’t work. Need metadata to find stuff.
  • Luke – use CMS and metadata
  • Tom – Dublin core – standard for categorizing (OCLC led design)
  • Luke – different searchers have different needs
  • Gwaltney – categorize for reports.  Tagging, not hierarchy, but implement hierarchy with copies
  • Luke – 9/16 screw – can use in lots of places. Have to decide on granularity.  Might have trouble with synonyms.
  • Lufkin – resource mgmt vs. content mgmt.
  • Doug – use checkboxes vs. text in summary field.
  • Luke – many ways to capture same thing – big spreadsheet plus eyeballing.  Problem with checkboxes – too many with unique names.  Need categories.  Something like Dewey decimal system
  • Gwaltney – geography organized bookstore
  • Lufkin – beauty of metadata – separates categorization from storage hierarchy
  • Tom – filtering
  • Luke – Google search.. may not catch cup vs. mug vs. beverage delivery system
  • Doug – metadata also good for process – ensure all boxes checked.

Taking your content strategy to rest of org

Scribe: Julie Phaviseth

explained user scenarios with limitations and solutions

  1. How do content to people locked in bank – give embedded help
  2. How to provide help to people who can google – give video demos
  3. Enterprise shared content between groups – give “cadillac” of docs

For example

  • Techpubs placed with support and training – how to give info to everyone. Post-sales/pre-sales
  • Think of roles and give appropriate amount of information e.g. don’t overwhelm  sales with technical detail and don’t give sales into technical people.
  • Can also give access to everything and letting people filter info for themselves.
  • Define audiences and build deliverables for them out of content
  • Example: evaluation guide taking, info from installation guide but provided into about configuring for example scenario
  • Limited scenario to guide users through evaluation
  • Example, Illumina used MadCap to let scientists specify what they want to do and create document
  • Confluence Wiki – good for sharing info internally for projects but not mature enough to handle content management like single sourcing, multiversioning without use of third-party plugin

Educational tools

  • Sharepoint – have to educate company on what to share, how to place it so it can be found by others and find values
  • Implementation – how it changes how write online help, link to content, what users expect. translation saved is big driver.
  • Have to be persistent in enforcing your content tools and strategy. Especially with new hires. Changes use case . finding requirements. Different needs.
  • Need process for ideas to change process with governing council to decide how to implement and it should be implemented.
  • Customers feedback – doc feedback, reps to user conferences, survey, talk to supporting customer reps onsite to test tool. customer given scenarios to walk through.

Improving search

Facilitator: Tracy Baker

Scribe: Guy K. Haas

  • Tracy is her company’s information architect
  • Level of expertise? Light
  • First instinct: go to Google
  • Use ?? like site:
  • Priority (for Google) goes to H1 content
  • Metadata field of PDF
  • Include audience in search <> need tags on content
  • Study of Taxonomy
  • Take your doc’s words and feed it to a word cloud tool to see what the big-count words are.
  • PDFs are search-opaque – to make them findable, you need to enter metadata into the properties
  • (If document is being localized, should the metadata info be translated for search?)