What’s Up, EDoc?!
Who Am I?
Neil Perlin - Hyper/Word Services.
– In tech. comm. since „79 at DEC.
– Creating hypertext since „85.
– Creating WinHelp since „90.
– Using HTML since „91.
– Training/consulting on HATs since „95.
– XML, single-sourcing, mobile since „98.
– STC‟s lead representative to the W3C.
Dead but still fairly common.
– ~51% - ref 2002 WinWriters survey.
Maintenance – few new projects.
Current mainstream formats are in or
based on HTML.
– HTML Help
BTW, HTML is now XHTML (XML).
First Moves To XML for Doc
Little use of XML for doc, so far.
– Little demand for XML-based doc.
» HTML works just fine, thanks…
» RoboHelp/WebWorks/etc. meets our single
sourcing needs, so why bother?
– Few doc-oriented WYSIWYG authoring
tools to drive development.
But formats are shifting and tools are
starting to appear.
Increasingly Complex Environment
Can get in trouble if you fall behind.
Be wary of terminology traps.
– Windows Help vs. WinHelp.
– WebHelp vs. Web Help.
– HTML Help vs. HTML help.
– MAML vs. MAML
Dates back to „91 with Doc-To-Help.
Newly hot as we head for auto-output
of content subsets in different formats,
devices, or modalities…
– Anybody doing this?
– Required technology depends on your
single sourcing needs.
» RoboHelp or WebWorks might be enough.
XML In One Slide
– Create custom tags or entire languages.
– Define and enforce syntax rules.
– Basically a master format for conversion to
other formats – e.g. single sourcing.
Content structure and standardization
are crucial for this.
XML Authoring Tools For Doc
“Blank slate” tools –Epic, xMetal…
Word tools and add-ons:
– SGML tools - i4i x4o and Inera eXtyles.
– ePublisher Pro
– Word 2003 (duh…)
XML Authoring Tools
Other or emerging tools:
– RoboHelp X5… maybe...
– Madcap Flare.
– Probably others.
– HTML, rewritten to follow XML syntax.
– Essentially, HTML done right.
– Like an infinitely extensible HTML.
– Has replaced HTML, officially.
– Will there be an X6?
– If not, will X5 be usable for years or will
IE 7 kill it?
– Replacement options – Dreamweaver,
ePublisher Pro, Flare…
Structured Information Design
Simply means info must be structured.
– But defining what that means is vital.
Ranges from using:
– Styles in Word to
– Templates to
– Objects in a CMS repository, extracted
using scripts, and run through XSLTs.
Will be a nightmare for many groups.
Organize and package content for
different uses and users.
– What we‟ve been doing for years.
– Need to sell it more effectively.
Modularizes content in repositories for:
– Access and revision.
– Extraction, conversion, and publishing.
» Proprietary CMSs under pressure from XML-
Seems destined to eliminate us.
It won‟t, but be ready for a fight.
Growth of Industry Standards
ISO, W3C, OASIS, NISO etc. are now
Past standards work created today‟s
Today‟s work is creating tomorrow‟s.
The more we know about that work:
– The more flexible, competitive, and
marketable we‟ll be.
– Speaking of W3C Watchers…
Growth of Internal Standards
Need standards for style, structure, and
content in order to create material in a
Need to support today‟s formats and
tomorrow‟s as-yet-undefined formats.
No more “Ready, Fire, Aim” projects.
Help system for Longhorn (now Vista).
Due out in 2006(?).
XML-based – uses MAML (Microsoft
Assistance Markup Language).
Question of adoption rate for Longhorn –
will web help beat out Longhorn Help?
Flash and Flash Lite
Flash – Market-leading animation tool.
Flash Lite – Flash for mobile devices.
– To create apps for devices that lack the
horsepower to run full Flash apps.
– Macromedia has made a strategic commit-
ment to mobile devices.
Scalable Vector Graphics
XML-based graphics format.
Animation, selective decompression.
May compete with Flash.
– Mixed support from vendors.
“Information about information”.
To find, retrieve, process, and manage
– Some major standards – Dublin Core,
XMP, RDF – in a chaotic environment.
For now, get in the habit of filling out
any property sheets in your apps.
Talk to IT about directions.
Web-based logs/journals - web logs.
Updated more often than a typical web
site - daily or even more often.
Popular service at www.blogger.com
For tools, see:
Hawaiian for “quick”?
– Supposedly named for the luggage cart
service at Honolulu International.
Dynamic, multi-contributor web sites
that take advantage of the sum of the
– See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
Consider problems of group dynamics
and legal risks.
RDF (or Rich) Site Summary.
XML format for syndicating web
– Syndicated content is registered with RSS
publisher that sends it to subscriber sites.
– Conceptually similar to server-push but
with more of a pull aspect.
Similar to, and based on, RSS, but for
Content designed to be downloaded to
and played on iPods or similar devices.
The mobile web failed but people still
want mobile access to content, a la
cell phones and WiFi.
– W3C is trying again with Mobile Web
Ifyour audience includes field service
or mobile users, think mobile devices.
Extends mobile device idea to make
content usable on any device with no
siloing or hand-tailoring.
– Once again, single sourcing.
W3C activity at www.w3.org/2005/di/
As with mobile devices, know your
Demos or interactive simulations based
on screen “movies” rather than text and
– Learning by viewing, then doing.
Createdusing tools like Captivate and
Virtualpeople as help interfaces.
Ubiquitous/pervasive computing or
Some Crucial Questions
Which technologies will take off?
Which will you use?
So what do we do?
– Managers and developers must look at...
Learn the company‟s strategic direction.
Get involved in setting that direction.
Be able to explain:
– Your documentation goals.
– How those goals mesh with the company‟s.
»e.g. why we‟re doing what we‟re doing…
– Then think about tools.
Watch technical trends in the industry.
Focus on structure and standards for:
– Cross- and upward-compatibility.
– Repeatable, predictable, cost-effective
development and maintenance.
Focus on cross-department effects.
Take everything with a grain of salt.
Watch business trends in the industry.
– Technology exists in a business context.
– Content (cool) is replacing documentation.
– “Cool” gets more $, attracting consultants.
Learn to talk “CFO-ish” and ROI to
compete with the consultants.
Content Creation Issues
Focus on users‟ information needs, not
a technology‟s information capability.
– Don‟t do something because it‟s cool.
Our job is to create content, not get
caught up in a tool.
– All cutting-edge tools eventually become
Where‟s the STC Going?
The STC isn‟t the universe.
Many technical “writers” have never
heard of the STC but still have jobs.
Traditional tasks still have to be done.
New tasks (metator) and markets (low-
tech like hospitals) are opening up.
Your direction and marketing are up to