In a recent survey, 69 tech writers said they often experience “blocked” periods of time when it’s difficult to write.
The grammar police may criticise our doubleplusungood writing, but our loyalty should be with more plausible authorities — our global audience.
WYSIWYG wasn’t just a comfort blanket. It helped writers do their jobs. For structured/web authoring, we can’t go back, but must fill the gaps.
As tools designers, implementers, or authoring team managers, we have to do a better job of assuring authors when they’re doing their jobs OK, and provide clear information on how to fix things if not.
Using a taxonomy makes you look again at what you are writing. You abandon information for its own sake, and instead shape content to fit your customers. Not only does their experience with search and navigation improve; what they find speaks directly to their needs.
Good visual communication is essential, yet graphics are often an afterthought in structured content implementations. We need a new approach to make them work well over an increasing range of screen sizes, devices, and contexts.
Well-thought-out content sets are like a good stew — each chunk has a distinct role. Carrots bring sweetness; potatoes, substance. In the same way, carefully designed information is served in purposeful pages whose structure reflects their intent.
An accessible way for authors, information architects, and schema developers alike to understand or refine a content model.
A mature approach to a structured content implementation has a clear idea of the benefits to be achieved
DITA makes things dramatically easier, but it does not remove the need to define your own processes and architecture. It was never intended to do so. You can’t just fly your stuff from one place to another. The nature of the environment has changed. It’s as dramatic as a frog’s lifecycle from water to land. Put migration aside for now — your content needs to metamorphose, and you with it.
Distributed version control could make collaborative XML authoring faster, more reliable, and clearer. But the piece that’s missing from regular DVCS setups is an XML-aware merge tool. Project: Merge fills this gap. Here’s how I got it working with Mercurial in SourceTree on a Mac.