Wednesday, 24 December 2008

User assistance "sans frontieres"

There's a great example of user assistance that goes beyond the normal frontiers of a printed manual or an online help system on the STC Montreal blog. A current model Pentax digital SLR camera has a dedicated help button on its casing, and it displays brief context-sensitive messages on its screen.

This is a very valuable real-world example of embedded help - it shows that user assistance really can go anywhere it’s needed. Most tech writers I know would be thrilled to help their employers or their clients move beyond printed manuals or online help systems. It’s the companies that need to see that these possibilities exist, and then give us the chance to work with the engineers and interface designers to deliver the embedded help that can benefit users.

Monday, 22 December 2008

I like predictions like these

Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler himself, has asked Dave Kellogg, CEO of Mark Logic, for his top ten content technology predictions for 2009. You can read the article here.

Dave Kellogg's first prediction is that DITA will start making inroads as a document production standard in areas outside the relatively limited technical publications community. Dave's second prediction is that Microsoft SharePoint will continue to grow in importance and strength against other more cumbersome content management systems.

These two predictions are very interesting as far as I am concerned: I am the UK Authorised Reseller for DITA Exchange, a single source publishing and content collaboration platform for small, medium and large enterprises, which brings together the DITA open standard and Microsoft SharePoint Server. If Dave Kellogg is right I can look forward to a busy time in 2009!