The latest versions of help authoring tools like Flare and RoboHelp have moved far beyond their online help roots to become powerful multichannel authoring tools that can single-source output to ebooks, web apps, HTML5-based web apps, and even native Apple and Android apps. The mechanics of moving traditional help projects to mobile are surprisingly simple. It’s in interface design, information design, and content features that things can get messy.
In this session, you’ll learn about:
- The three main types of mobile supported by help authoring tools and the importance of defining your specific mobile outputs.
- The main interface differences between traditional online help and different types of mobile.
- Content analysis to determine what help authoring tool features work, may work, and won’t work in different mobile outputs.
- Time permitting, we’ll also take a look at the emerging set of GUI tools that can convert a traditional web site to mobile form and the problems that can arise with legacy content.
After a decade of false starts, mobile has taken off in the mass market. Tens of thousands of apps are available for iPhones, Android phones, and other devices; is there room for more in this seemingly saturated market?
Surprisingly, yes. Many of those existing apps are simply variations on a theme; search for Angry Birds in the App Store and you’ll get 1,142 hits. But those apps may not address the specific needs of internal business markets —think Internet vs. intranet. Who’ll create these new, customized apps to address these internal business markets? More to the point, can technical communicators create them?
Until recently, the answer was usually no because app creation required a professional programmer. Today, however, new GUI mobile app development tools are emerging. These tools hide most or all of the coding and let the authors focus on the app’s content, functionality, and appearance. (Think about trying to create a help system by working directly in the XHTML vs. working with a GUI tool like Flare or RoboHelp and you’ll get the picture.) In this workshop, you’ll try it. In four hours, you’ll create a simple but functional native app with no coding. You’ll:
- Do this using a GUI native app development tool called ViziApps Studio.
- Leave with an overview of app design principles and an actual app with data you can modify without being a programmer.
- Get a good sense of what you can create and the initial knowledge needed to research other tools.
- Work hands-on, alternating between viewing explanatory slides and actually creating the app.
- A laptop running Windows XP or above, preferably Windows 7, or a current Mac, and IE 9, Firefox, Chrome, or Safari.
- An iPhone running iOS 5 or an Android phone running Android 2.2 or above.
You’ll receive specific setup instructions about a week before the workshop. Setup will take under an hour and is free.
Neil Perlin is an internationally known consultant, strategist, trainer, and developer for online content in all forms ranging from traditional online help to mobile help to mobile apps. Neil helps clients define their strategy, design their content, select outputs, understand the coding, and select and learn authoring tools. To do this, he brings 34 years of experience in technical communication, with 28 focused on online in formats and tools past, present, and future (having represented STC to the WorldWide Web Consortium for four years).
Neil provides training, consulting, and development services for online help and documentation in general, Flare and RoboHelp in particular, single sourcing, structured content development, CSS, and GUI mobile app development through his company, Hyper/Word Services, at www.hyperword.com.
Neil is Madcap Certified for Flare and Mimic, Adobe Certified for RoboHelp, and Viziapps Certified for the Viziapps Studio mobile app development platform. He is the author of Essentials of MadCap Mimic 6 and Advanced Features in MadCap Flare 8.
Neil writes columns and articles for STC’s Intercom and is a popular conference speaker for STC and other professional societies and conferences. He is an STC Fellow and the founder and manager of the Bleeding Edge stem at the STC summit. You can reach him at email@example.com.