January 14, 2013

Technical Writing Tools

Posted in Content Management, writing tagged at 1:27 am by mknight1130

Technical writers need flexible tools to collaborate with their peers and to ensure their words reach readers. No longer do writers and readers confine content to a piece of paper. They interact with content and reuse it in a variety of contexts. To meet these demands, a technical writer requires a good content management system. Confluence and Framemaker are examples of two such applications.

Confluence, created by Atlassian, combines desktop editing  functionality with dynamic capabilties to interact with other team members. Confluence users can edit documents quickly by using macros to replace content and to automatically upload documents. Writers use Confluence to keep the look and feel throughout a set of documents and to pull excerpts from one section or file format to another.  This tool allows content to remain fluid and usable among different types of content, while still maintaining the overall integrity of the document. Confluence power allows more than one writer to edit a document while maintaining the changes from each. Writers can use confluence to assign and manage tasks, obtain comments from their peers, contribute feedback, and track their content evolution. Confluence allows team members to search for particular content and task status while notifying others of updates. Writers can use this tool to look up technical requirements, forming the backbone of help content. Confluence users will find a power and ease in writing about and accessing technical knowledge.

Framemaker , produced by Adobe.com, uses XML (Extensible Markup Language) and DITA (Darwin Information Technical Architecture) to define and use content elements. Content from one document can be searched and applied to a different context, such as a pop-up from hovering over an image. Through XML and DITA, Framemaker enables the writer to specify a hirearchy of elements, allowing for consistency among descriptions and content placement. Readers in return, can easily access documentation through a variety of media, including cell phones and Kindles. Moreover, Framemaker authors can upload a variety of media, including videos and images, to enhance their writing, making content dynamic. Content, created through Framemaker, can be transferred easily across different file formats and documentation structures, while maintaining consistent terminology.

Framemaker and Confluence provide technical writers tools to make content dynamic and accessible by a wide audience.

 

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