ClearPath Content Management Solutions Mon, 18 Feb 2013 19:14:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Writing for Translation Fri, 28 Sep 2012 02:39:59 +0000 It was a pleasure speaking The Geo Group Global Communications Conference in Madison on September 26, 2012.

One of my presentations focused on the basics of authoring content for translation by techical communcation professionals. Talented writers come from a variety of diverse backgrounds: creative, technical, legal, screen, speech, public relations and financial. When creating their communications, writers may never know their work will be translated for a multilingual audience. So, it is important to consciously hone our skills to accommodate the global versions of their work.

So, check out Writing for Translations and let me know what you’d add!

Proofing an XSL-FO Stylesheet Sat, 15 Sep 2012 02:30:52 +0000 Proofing a PDF produced from an XSL-FO stylesheet is tedious, eyeball work and some people get caught up on the content instead of how it is rendered.

When I review outputs for new stylesheets, I lay out printed pages and do a style-to-style comparison. I also use the following checklist to help make sure I hit all the page elements.

  • Cover (front/back/inside)
  • Blank pages (covers/odd-even pages)
  • Inside pages (no header/footers)
  • TOC (check against text, product header, chapter names, chapter numbers, dot leaders, position on page, page numbers, part number, index, warranty)
  • Chapter pages (title position, chapter number, mini-toc)
  • Headers (position, product)
  • Footers (position, page number)
  • Page design attributes (page margins/lines/graphic margins/gutters/side heads)
  • Figure numbers/captions (position, consecutive, restart, wrap text)
  • Text headers (L1, L2, L3, L4)
  • Lists (list types, position, numbers, bullet types, nesting)
  • Consecutive numbering (list, figures, chapters)
  • Tables (position, columns, padding, titles, lines, numbered lists, bullets)
  • Text attributes where applicable (bold, italics, bold/italics)
  • Menu keys (bold, italic)
  • Messages (single quotes)
  • Section reference (double quotes, italics)
  • Safety notice/messages (position/size/type/signal word)
  • Index (check against text, chapter numbers, dot leaders, position on page)
  • Trademark Information
  • Images (size, scale, clarity, position, margins, callouts, full/in column))
  • Image legends (numbered, space, position)
  • Chapter names
  • Chapter numbers
  • Index (letters, chapter number-page number, primary/secondary, wrap)
  • Font checks – E-scale checks
  • Bookmarks in PDF generated
  • Page breaks/bumps

Since every stylesheet produces a custom output, customize the checklist for specifics. Nested lists, for example, may be deep with appearance depending on where used.

Prrofing an automated stylesheet is not really different than any other formatted page. Get it right and leave it alone!

Content Life Cycle Development Mon, 03 Jan 2011 19:14:12 +0000 All my client engagement include developing a Content Life Cycle as a part of planning for structured authoring migration and content management implementation. This effort is always in the form of a workshop and requires input from every member of the team.

Recognizing the content life cycle helps identify business requirement for how content must be treated, handled and processed. Applying the content life cycle presents opportunities for workflow improvement, automation and ways to measure cost. It is also makes a tacit technical publication process explicit. When preparing for a content management system, a clear understanding of the current content life cycle helps team members understand the coming changes in process and technology. It also provides a basis for identifying future hardware, software, workflow and human requirements. With clear requirements and a focus on the re-engineered content life cycle, a content management solution will be geared to the users and not driven by vendors and product software capabilities.

Since the scope of the content life cycle focuses on every content state and the tasks associated with that state, the content life cycle requires interaction with the technical publications team. The primary focus is on identifying core tasks and the order in which they occur. The secondary focus is on identifying who performs tasks and the tools used.

Working with technical publication groups to develop their own CLC is both revealing and great fun. Here are two versions of the same model: authoring only and authoring with translation.

Content Life Cycle: Authoring

Content Life Cycle with Translation

Content Analysis:Keys to Reuse Sat, 26 Jun 2010 05:00:05 +0000 Content Analysis:Keys to Reuse

Documenting a Developing Center of Excellence Tue, 05 Jan 2010 19:50:00 +0000 Over the next few months I’ll be documenting the ongoing development of an Oracle Financial Center of Excellence. The client has asked me to approach the project work as a combination of business analysis and technical communication. So, I’ll start with the responsibilites of a COE.

For the past few months, I’ve worked with a “get it done” management team and their takes on the purpose of their COE are:

  • Support the participating lines of business lines with Oracle ERP. This includes providing services needed and subject matter experts.
  • Guide software development and implementaions with standards, best practice methodologies, tools and knowledge repositories.
  • Shares learning that includes training, skill assessments, team building and formalized roles.
  • Develop metrics to measure the results and value Oracle Financial ERP delivers.
  • Governance that ensures the organization invests in the most valuable projects and creates economies of scale for their service offering. Also coordinates across other corporate interests to deliver value. This requres allocating limited resources (money, people, etc.) across all possible use.
The Content Lifecycle Sat, 02 Jan 2010 06:00:48 +0000 The LavaCon Conference in October ’09 offered a great opportunity to present Understanding and Leveraging the Content Lifecycle. The session focused on several existing content life cycle models then briefly discussed core similarities and differences.  Co-presenter Leigh White shared her specific CLC experience in developing a DITA project.  Then, attendees broke into smaller groups and applied the concepts presented to their own content life cycles.  

clc poster inset

content lifecycle poster inset

One outcome was a user-centered poster.  So, I’m working on an article about the workshop, the concepts discussed in the session and gather comments from participants on how the group reached consensus. Meanwhile, my illustrator is ready to convert the rough sketch into a polished poster.