Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?

Technical writers are starting to pay more attention to UI/UX because documentation is part of the user experience. Technical writers, who explain user interface elements and design how-to documents for user tasks and procedures, know when a design choice will have repercussions. We can recognize when a design choice is similar to one we’ve encountered previously and that we know will result in additional documentation to compensate.

Our experience in writing documents to explain odd, weird, and outside-expectation placements and behaviors gives us insight. We are part of the UX continuum:
Continue reading “Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?”

12 tips from UX designers that Techcomm folks should know too

Next to API docs, UI/UX is one of the fastest growing sub-domains in technical writing. Not surprising, because documentation contributes to the user experience and explain how to use a product’s user interface.

In May, I spotted an article by Robert Hoekman, Jr. that I’ve now read several times. He called it a “UX Reality Check” for designers. It’s easy to get distracted by your product and forget to look at the world through your user’s eyes.

As I read through, several points stood out as being just as applicable to technical documentation. Here are the bullet points from the article that stood out to me the most. Continue reading “12 tips from UX designers that Techcomm folks should know too”

Common Questions: Customization

The API for Arbortext is open. The possibilities are enormous for anyone with an energetic tools team or IT group.

This week’s topic: Customization

Last year we discovered that something we think everyone knows about Arbortext is almost totally unknown. It was a weird thing to discover because, for most of us, this “thing” was a major influencer in our decision to become Arbortext customers in the first place.

I’m talking about the power of the Arbortext platform, the open nature of the fully-documented API that gives an Arbortext developer nearly complete access to every part of the application (editor, rendering tools, and component content management system).

Now, there’s a lot of reasons it’s become less well-known. Arbortext is a complete system. All the pieces required for content creation and delivery exist in the Arbortext system. It’s the only end-to-end, fully integrated system of it’s kind. Because all the pieces are there and because they all know how to talk to each other, there’s no work you have to do to make the tools work together out of the box. All you have to do is learn to use the tools.

We always talk about the ease of use and out-of-the box advantages to Arbortext suite of products. What we don’t spend enough time with is talking about the cool things you can do. The API for Arbortext is open. The possibilities are enormous for anyone with an energetic tools team or IT group.

Here’s a good example. In October last year, the Arbortext User Group had a presentation from a long-time customer who created “An ACL Tool to Find and Replace XML Attribute Values”. For them, it was a tool that improved the lives of authors every day. For those of us who know Arbortext inside and out, it’s a great example of some of the “Uber Geeky” things a tools team can do in Arbortext.

How about another example? Did you know that you can change the GUI and script any of the Arbortext products, from Arbortext Editor to Arbortext Content Manager and through every step of the composition pipeline?

For us this knowledge comes as second nature, but for those out there who are new to the eco-system, it may not be apparent. This is why we started the Arbortext Monster Garage web series. We want everyone to know all the things you can do if you’re an Arbortext customer.

Arbortext provides a lot out of the box. But it’s a pretty big box. If you’re really interested in the power of the Arbortext platform, you might want to don a shop coat and step into the Arbortext “Monster Garage”.

If you’re not sure you’re ready for the garage, or if you just want a peek at what’s possible, take a look at the recording of the webinar we did in November. Read our earlier “common question” posts about Arbortext Editor or Arbortext Publishing. Still want more? Take a look at one of the related links attached to this post.

You won’t be disappointed.