Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Door Stopper

You've must have heard that great technical communication could open doors for you right? Well, there's more. Many years ago, so the story goes, one of VPs responsible for documentation went to visit a client to see how they were using the thick printed manuals supplied with product. Surprise, surprise. You've probably guessed how they were using it by now. If you haven't, you missed the title! Yup. They were actually using the manual as a door stopper!

That's the 'strength' of documentation skills.They not only open doors when opportunity comes calling, but they keep them doors - open!

About 25 folks responded to Guru's call to a User Assistance workshop held on the 25th at the Oracle Office, Lexington Towers. The two part session was very well received. Other than the regular crowd of tech writers, there were UI designers and a content writer as well.

Here's what you missed. Or should I say, here's what you could have learned.
  • Why is there a decline in the number of installation guides being created?
  • What does the UA team in Oracle do? How have they created a niche for themselves? 
  • What does the UA team in Oracle do that other technical writers don't do? Why is what they do becoming a norm?
  • Why is the conversational style of writing being adopted in technical writing?
  • Does this mean it's the end of style guides? Tip: Don't do cart wheels yet.
  • Why is API documentation becoming the must have skill?
  • Why are more and more organizations making their API available to users? 
  • What are the hourly rates of a writer who can create API documentation vis-a-vis with one who doesn't?
  • Why is REST API particularly popular? How easy is it to learn?
  • What is an orchestrated deployment?
  • What are the challenges when it comes to enterprise installations?
  • What is a best practice when it comes to documenting enterprise deployments?
  • Is it a good idea to make installation easier for end users?
  • What are Chef and Puppet? Hint: Not a cartoon.
  • Why were there no Devops team a few years ago?
  • What language is slowly replacing XML? Why?
  • What are some of the ways by which documentation team are addressing user assistance needs without creating traditional documentation?
  • What are developers doing with markdown editors? Is that a threat or is that a strength to the technical writer?
  • Did you know that in just a few years, the average Indian tech writer will lose the cost arbitrage that they have always had over their western counterparts?
  • What is 'first item' help?
  • Why is Confluence being used by many organizations as a knowledge base?
  • What is embedded user assistance? How does it differ from contextual help?
  • When would you use a getting started panel? When would you use a reveal all help bubble? When would you use overlays?
  • Why is it important to look for the right problem to solve when it comes to selecting one of the above methods?
  • Are animated GIFs catching on in documentation?
  • When would you use interactive infographics?
  • What is continuous delivery?
  • What do hypermedia tools do? Which tools are being used in Oracle?
  • What is the big idea behind
  • How do you document single screen UI?
  • What does 'start with the end in mind', mean?
  • What are some of the things that writers need, to remain competitive in such fast changing environments? What should managers do?
No, it is not going to be a total loss. Here are two of the videos shared. There were more.

The Audi A3 does not have a printed manual. See what Audi uses to help users understand the product.

So the heavy printed manual may not be the door stopper anymore. Especially since not as many are being produced now.
The session is a wake up call. Wake up, while you can still do something! Don't end up as a door stopper. Only this time, on the outside.

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