Do you experiment?


by Liz Fraley, CEO of Single-Sourcing Solutions

Last month Tom Johnson of the I’d Rather be Writing blog interviewed me about why I started TC Camp. He wanted to know why I started something that was so obviously energy and resource intensive?

It’s true that I have a lot of things going on. Single-Sourcing Solutions is 11 years old this year. I sit on the board of 3 non-profit, community-based, educational organizations: TC Camp (4 years), the SF Bay ACM (17 years) and I just volunteered to be the Program Chair for the East Bay STC chapter. And I started the TC Dojo, the community-driven webinar series (4 years) and Mastermind groups (going on it’s 2nd).

Occasionally, I get the question: Why would you do this to yourself? The answer is this: I thrive on two things:

First, I have discovered that I derive an intense satisfaction when I am able to improve the capabilities of the people in my community. This should come as no surprise to any of our customers. This ethic is in everything we do and how we approach the work we do. Customers learn when they work with us. Rather than growing increasingly dependent on us, they grow into competent, fully independent and self-sufficient practitioners. We function like a part of their team strengthening everyone in the process. It’s amazing.

Second, having a wide variety of experiences helps me make connections. This is where the experimenting comes into the picture. With TC Camp, I took a model that worked for Silicon Valley programmers and moved it to the techcomm venue. The result? Something none of us expected. TC Camp has grown 20-30% in attendance every year since we started it. We’re bursting at the seems and it’s always, always different.

The TC Dojo webinars were another experiment. We took the standard webinar format but gave it a Camp influence by asking people to vote on the webinar topics. The result was a webinar that asks the audience what they want to learn, rather than single-mindedly pursuing a marketing plan that tells people why they should grow and learn (and buy a particular product). And the icing on the top is that it has been a lot of fun to highlight other professionals, other companies, when we solicit experts to be the ones teaching the topics the community has asked for.

Don’t even get me started on the Masterminds. That has taken things to a whole different level!

Where else do you get that?

Why does it work? Well, because I am willing try different things out. Because we’re a small company with a strong community service streak, we have the flexibility to do things like TC Camp and TC Dojo.

You never know what results an experiment will bring. That’s why we do them. That’s why UI/UX professionals run user experience trials (those are just controlled, observed experiments). It’s why Marketers run campaigns and do A/B testing.

You should be experimenting whenever you can. If you’re always doing the same old thing, how do know you’re doing the best thing you can? Technology changes. Experience levels change. Your users grow up (or get younger and have totally different starting levels than those docs that were first conceived 12 years ago).

In most cases, if something doesn’t work, you can always do an update or change it in the next round. Not a lot of harm done. If it does…there’s usually an award, promotion, or recognition around the corner.

Arbortext Version 7.0 Released

Arbortext 7.0 was released last week. We saw a preview of what was coming last month and have been eagerly awaiting the release. There’s some big improvements with this release and some special treats for the early adopters.

What’s in the release? Support for DITA 1.3. A new JavaScript IDE for APP source in both Styler and APP. And a host of other features, including one that our customers requested!

7.0 will require new license generation, but 7.0 licenses are backwards compatible and will support older releases at the same time.  If you have an active maintenance contract, you can download Arbortext 7.0 at no additional cost from the PTC website.

We’re testing 7.0 for our customers right now and we’ll be talking about what we find in the Mastermind session in October. Come to the Mastermind if you want a look at 7.0 before you start testing your environment and getting ready to upgrade.  If you need any help testing your customizations or stylesheets, we can help! Join the Arbortext Mastermind or contact us at

For now, this post will take you through the highlights of the release. Details on each feature and specific bug fixes contained in the release can be found in the release notes on the PTC website.

If you want details about what’s in the release, read on… Continue reading Arbortext Version 7.0 Released

Interview with Gareth Oakes, GPSL

Early in 2005, Arbortext acquired Advent, the makers of 3B2 publishing software. That year at the annual AUGI conference, the greater Arbortext community got their first look at the capabilities that 3B2 brought to the publishing table. For the most part, we were stunned. A lot of the things we’d been told you couldn’t do — or rather shouldn’t do — you could with 3B2. Today, it still feels as though we only had the briefest of glimpses of what it could do. The powerful impression of capability remains even though most of us never really saw the product again.

Since that time, PTC acquired Arbortext and 3B2 was renamed Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher (APP).  As soon as we started supporting APP, we reached out to GPSL to add specialized support to our partner network.  GPSL was founded by former Advent employees. If you’ve been a part of the 3B2 community for any length of time, you certainly know GPSL. If you’ve never been an APP/3B2 user, it’s likely you’ve never run into GPSL before.

This past June, PTC released Arbortext 5.4 and it included a free technology preview of APP with Styler. Users finally get the chance to use this product they’ve wanted to touch and feel for a very long time. Continue reading Interview with Gareth Oakes, GPSL