Get Trained on Arbortext Styler — from someone who cares about you

We’re launching a series of online training sessions designed to facilitate better Stylesheet design using Arbortext Styler. Why? Well, if you saw my outburst on Facebook, you can probably guess the reason. Continue reading “Get Trained on Arbortext Styler — from someone who cares about you”

Same mess, different tools – Liz Fraley on the Content Content Podcast

Summary: In her interview, Liz Fraley talks in detail about the history of structured authoring and how her opinions have changed over 17 years in the technical writing industry.

Last month I had the opportunity to talk with Ed Marsh of the Content Content podcast. I’ve known Ed for a couple of years but we’ve never really had time to sit down and talk. It’s funny how much you realize you don’t know when you really get the chance.

We did a series of podcasts several years ago: We interviewed long-term Arbortext users to capture the spirit of the many community members who work to help each other. I interviewed people at all different levels–developers, first time users, experienced integrators, stylesheet professionals, tool masters, and many others. And learned a lot.

Good interviewers expose great information

When Ed Marsh asked me to be on the other side of the interview for his Content Content podcast, I was honored to be included. It’s unusual for me to be the center of attention; it’s just not in my nature. I was the “other bride” at my wedding. I like to learn about what other people are doing. Our customers know that it’s never all about me. Until recently, whenever I presented, the “about me” slide was at the end because I always felt that it was more important to make sure you got what you came for before I advertising myself.

In any event, there’s no getting out of the spotlight when you’re the subject of the interview. Ed’s a good interviewer. He asked all the right questions for a good profile piece. In fact, it was interesting to me as well. We all forget what we know. We take it for granted. We forget that other people don’t know what we know even if we think, “hey, everyone knows this…”

What surprised me most was how much we’ve done here at Single-Sourcing Solutions, how we’re different, and how much knowledge is buried in our own heads.

I’ve been in the technical communications industry nearly two decades at this point. I’ve seen structured authoring develop and change. I’ve seen SGML and XML and DITA rise and DocBook decline. I’ve worked with military documentation and with high-tech software docs with a lot of pre-generated content. I’ve programmed stylesheets and used a lot of tools.

And over those two decades, my perspective and opinions about what to do have changed. A lot.

Where to find the interview

Listen to Episode 19 of the “Content Content Podcast” the podcast about “the people behind the content” for my interview with Ed Marsh.

I hope you enjoy it.

A brief sidebar

I refer to a lot of different topics during the interview. The links are here for your convenience:

Publish High-Quality, Print-Ready DITA in less than a day

Summary: Everyone says, “Publishing DITA is Hard!” But the truth is you can publish DITA content for ePub and Print output with very little work. The promise that vendors (like us) have been giving for 20 years is real today. I published Arbortext 101 in less than one day for less than $1400 all-in and I’m including software, time, and effort. A 100% indie published book. I did it and so can you. Here’s how.

My first book went live this morning: Arbortext 101. It is also the first book about Arbortext that was not published by PTC.* Arbortext is an extremely simple XML authoring and publishing suite of programs. It’s got an editor, a styling tool, a server-based publishing application, and a content management system. It’s 20 years old this year.

In my career, I’ve used nearly all of the XML/SGML tools out there. I like different tools for different purposes. I’m a big fan of the “right tool for the job” as it were. When I approached the project, I decided that I’d distill the 5000+ pages of technical documentation that gets published with the product into a short book that documents the best practices that we’ve developed over the 15 years as users and customers of Arbortext.

A couple of things happened close together…

Continue reading “Publish High-Quality, Print-Ready DITA in less than a day”