LavaCon Keynote Speaker Preview:
Karen McGrane on Content in a Zombie Apocalypse

A content zombie apocalypse is upon us! An onslaught of new mobile devices, platforms, and screen sizes, hordes of them descending every day. We’re outmatched. There aren’t enough designers and developers to battle every platform. There aren’t enough editors and writers to populate every screen size.

Surviving the content zombie apocalypse is possible. In this talk, LavaCon Keynote Speaker Karen McGrane will explain how. Interview by Ed Marsh.

Attend Karens’s keynote presentation at the 2018 LavaCon Conference.

Make the Business Case to Attend the 2018 LavaCon Conference

How do you convince your boss that attending The 2018 LavaCon Conference is a smart investment? Build a strong business case that connects your organization’s needs with the LavaCon program. Whether you want to improve your customers’ experience, move towards structured authoring and XML, or strengthen relationships with stakeholders, LavaCon offers sessions and case studies that will help you make a difference in your organization.

Get started

If you’ve never written a business case, start by reading the Intercom magazine article How to Build a Business Case by Jack Molisani and Bonni Graham.

Intercom Cover for Building a Business Case

Next, list all the challenges you encounter in your job and how those situations cost your company time and money.

Then print the conference schedule and highlight all the sessions you think will address those problems.  To write the business case, use a detailed template or a simple one.

Portland Program At-a-Glance

Also, invite your boss to attend as well. Our 2018 program has plenty of sessions and workshops for managers, including meeting with managers from industry-leading companies.

Add supporting information

Include comments from previous attendees in your business case. While you may not make thousands of dollars more in future negotiations as a result of attending as one attendee did, chances are that the data offered in the sessions and workshops offered at LavaCon will make you better informed and more productive. In the long run, LavaCon will save your company much more than the cost of attending.

Have you been working long hours? Back-to-back deadlines? Due any comp time? Mention to your boss that you have been contributing far above-and-beyond a normal 40-hour work week, and that attending the conference will not only result in the cost savings you outlined in the first part of your business case, but it will also pay back some of that comp time you have accrued.

Is your boss still not convinced? Contact Jack Molisani and he will put your manager in touch with others who have sent people to LavaCon so they can speak manager-to-manager about the value of attending.

Best wishes and we hope to see you in New Orleans!

A Review of MadCap Flare 2017 r3 and MadCap Central – The LavaCon Conference: 2017

Guest Author: Hennah Rahman

MadCap Flare’s transition to agile releases allows Flare users to get bug fixes, enhancements, and new features much sooner than the previous release model. The MadCap Flare 2017 r3 release has many new features, but what I think most users can benefit from is the new Style Inspector.

New Style Inspector

The new Style Inspector is especially helpful for those starting out with CSS. Although many of you may be comfortable editing the CSS directly in the Text Editor, this new ability to view the style changes as you make them in the Style Inspector is brilliant. It can be a huge time saver when creating stylesheets for your projects and can decrease overall development time. In addition, the Style Inspector detects the medium and changes the stylesheet accordingly. Local formatting is indicated at the top of the Style Inspector in red which allows you to easily see any local styling that may exist in your topic. Styles that have been overwritten in a topic are marked with a line though the style in the Style Inspector to indicate the local formatting. You can create new styles or edit existing styles directly in the Style Inspector while viewing the style being applied to a topic.

style sheet inspector
Style Sheet Inspector

Continue reading “A Review of MadCap Flare 2017 r3 and MadCap Central – The LavaCon Conference: 2017”

Content Personalization and the Power of Metrics – The LavaCon Conference: 2017

Oded Ilan recently joined Ed Marsh to talk about his upcoming LavaCon presentation, Personalization of Content and the Power of Metrics. Currently the Chief Marketing Officer of Iridize, Oded’s start in content can be traced back to his degree in English literature. When he joined the world of high tech, he quickly learned the experience of writing and telling stories could be used to make a living: marketing and sales is all about telling stories. In the end, it’s content creation.

People working with content know that managers want metrics, but some metrics are easier to capture than others. For example, when there is a change in the user interface, we can measure the impact by the number of clicks. But how do you use metrics to follow a “solution”? How do you measure the effectiveness of support or training materials? When content is used once or twice, there is usually no option to know if an application’s feature was used as a result of the content related to that feature.

That’s where personalization steps in. Personalization is the other side of metrics. When you have metrics that give you an understanding of what people are doing, what types of people are doing it, and what people in the same environment are doing, you can combine that data with intelligent algorithms to launch content to users based on that activity. The end result is personalized, contextualized content.

Analytics show how people behave, which translates into dollars.

Think about solutions that let you see the number of times content is being used. Let’s say you are able to cross-reference that with the number of support calls reduced to the organization. You can then present the amount saved to the organization. When organizations decide to save money, they decide to cut things they do not understand. But they definitely understand money. And they understand numbers. This is a simple demonstration to management of how much you are worth to the organization.

About Our Guest

Even before Oded Ilan had graduated from the university in 1999, he spent 4 years as a high school teacher. Following graduation, Oded worked in various high-tech industries as a business developer. He still believes that his hardest “sell” to date was convincing children to “purchase” education. Getting the message across, creating appealing yet meaningful content and delivering the correct story to the customers has always been a passion of Oded’s. As Iridize’s Chief Marketing Officer, he gets to see, first hand, how technology helps the training and documentation landscape with a new approach.

Iridize is a Platinum Sponsor of The LavaCon Conference on Content Strategy and TechComm Management. Be sure to stop by the booth in the vendor hall and say hello!

About Our Host

Ed Marsh is proud to be from New Jersey. He uses the Oxford comma, and never uses two spaces after a period. He is a technical writer at Goldman Sachs, and the creator and host of the Content Content podcast. Find him at edmarsh.com and @edmarsh on Twitter.

Make a Quantum Shift in Structured Authoring – The LavaCon Conference: 2017

In this podcast, Eric Kuhnen and Michael Rosinski of Astoria Software join Ed Marsh to talk about their upcoming presentation at LavaCon, Making a Quantum Shift in Structured Authoring.

According to Eric, one of the key changes in the content industry has become the inability for multiple groups within a department to share content while using a common set of tools. The technical documentation team works with structured content, and the content repository is often not available to those outside the team. Astoria Software now provides integration with Witty Parrot to enable “rich sharing” and ensure that XML-based content is available to non-XML content creators.

Julie Newcome of Ultimate Software, an Astoria Software customer, immediately saw the appeal of the integration:

When we first saw the demo with Witty Parrot, it really excited us. One of the things we have had to overcome is the challenge of sharing content between departments. The for us is that allows other departments to use vetted content, content that is accurate for a customer-facing audience without having the technical skills to author in DITA, and that’s huge for us.

Ultimate Software is scheduled to go live with their integration of Witty Parrot soon after the LavaCon Conference. You can see a demonstration of their implementation at the Astoria booth; the demonstration includes:

  • Pulling technical content, such as a task or FAQ, from the content repository and sharing it with a customer
  • Generating instructor slides for a training class directly from the source DITA and creating an updated course manual, which is a faster, more efficient, and better managed process

About Our Guests

Astoria Software is a Platinum Sponsor of The LavaCon Conference on Content Strategy and TechComm Management, as well as Monday’s dessert sponsor! Be sure to stop by their booth in the vendor hall and say hello!

Eric Kuhnen has more than 20 years of experience in product research, development and management. Mr. Kuhnen was most recently responsible for competitive positioning, product marketing, and product management at Astoria Software, GoRemote (acquired by iPass), and Oracle Corporation.

Michael Rosinski has been Chief Executive Officer of Astoria Software, Inc., since December 2007 and serves as its President.

Julie Newcome is a Content Management Analyst at Ultimate Software.

About Our Host

Ed Marsh is proud to be from New Jersey. He uses the Oxford comma, and never uses two spaces after a period. He is a technical writer at Goldman Sachs, and the creator and host of the Content Content podcast. Find him at edmarsh.com and @edmarsh on Twitter.

People Love to Give You Money! And Recognition! And Headcount! – The LavaCon Conference: 2017

Chellie Campbell joined Ed Marsh to talk about her LavaCon keynote presentation, People Love to Give You Money! And Recognition! And Headcount!

Chellie started her career as a musical comedy actress and then became a bookkeeper. When she learned that not many people could read their financial statements, she started teaching them, which led her to write books and teach workshops. She has found that most people look at money from the perspective of stock brokers and financial planners, which means they view money with a negative perspective:

These people say, “You’re going to run out of money. You’re not going to have enough money for medical expenses.” It’s a place of fear. It’s ridiculous. You should be enjoying your money. I take the money piece, and I make it fun. Budget means Baby U Deserve Getting Every Thing, and I talk about that in my talk.”

Chellie believes people focus too much on what’s wrong or what’s missing, which means they miss out on what’s right and how to be happy. Her keynote session addresses working with user-friendly people, getting along with people who are not user-friendly, and how to think positively about people and money. Positive thinking and affirmations can help us put together a plan: thoughts followed by actions can lead to results.

Register for LavaCon Portland 2017 today so you can learn more from Chellie!

About Our Guest

Chellie Campbell is the creator of the popular Financial Stress Reduction® workshops, is the author of The Wealthy SpiritZero to Zillionaire, and From Worry to Wealthy, and she has contributed stories to Jack Canfield’s recent books You’ve Got to Read This Book! and Life Lessons from Chicken Soup for the Soul. Chellie is  prominently quoted as a financial expert in The Los Angeles Times, Redbook, Family Circle, Pink, Good Housekeeping, Lifetime, Essence, Woman’s World, and more than 50 popular books.

Learn more about Chellie at chellie.com.

About Our Host

Ed Marsh is proud to be from New Jersey. He uses the Oxford comma, and never uses two spaces after a period. He is a technical writer at Goldman Sachs, and the creator and host of the Content Content podcast. Find him at edmarsh.com and @edmarsh on Twitter.

Listen to the Interview

How MOOCs, SPOCs, and Next Generation e-Learning are Impacting Content Strategy – The LavaCon Conference: 2017

Keith Boyd recently talked to Ed Marsh about his upcoming keynote,  How MOOCs, SPOCs, and Next Generation e-Learning are Impacting Content Strategy. The growing popularity of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and Small Private Online Courses (SPOCs) provides the opportunity for traditional technical communicators to work with other teams and incorporate e-learning into their content strategy, resulting in mastery and deeper commitment from customers. By becoming aware of the options, we are better equipped to have conversations with the other teams, identify opportunities, and deliver engaging solutions.

I’m going to talk about how learning science is impacting our ability to motivate people, to keep them in the game, and to keep them wanting to learn.

Attend Keith’s session, and learn how to make a difference in your organization. Register for LavaCon Portland 2017 today!

About Our Guest

Keith Boyd is a 17 year veteran of Microsoft Corporation, where he currently serves as the Director of Structured Learning Programs in the new Learning and Readiness organization. He joined the Learning Experiences team in 2015 to lead Microsoft’s Online Learning strategy. In that role, he was a member of the team that conceived of the Microsoft Professional Program – a role-based certification program to help fill the technical skills gap using emerging technology like MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses). He subsequently became the leader of this new business, which in its first six-months has attracted 50,000 students to its curriculum on Data Science. There are 15 additional curriculum in development. Prior to joining the Learning Experiences team, he managed technical documentation and samples for developers in both the Windows and Cloud and Enterprise divisions.

Keith contributes to the Microsoft Learning blog Born to Learn, and also posts on LinkedIn (search for Keith Boyd).

About Our Host

Ed Marsh is proud to be from New Jersey. He uses the Oxford comma, and never uses two spaces after a period. He is a technical writer at Goldman Sachs, and the creator and host of the Content Content podcast. Find him at edmarsh.com and @edmarsh on Twitter.

Listen to the Interview

Build a Business Case to Attend LavaCon – The LavaCon Conference: 2017

How do you convince your boss that attending The LavaCon Conference is a smart investment? Build a strong business case that connects your organization’s needs with the LavaCon program. Whether you want to improve your customers’ experience, move towards structured authoring and XML, or strengthen relationships with stakeholders, LavaCon offers sessions and case studies that will help you make a difference in your organization.

Get started

If you’ve never written a business case, start by reading the Intercom magazine article How to Build a Business Case by Jack Molisani and Bonni Graham.

Intercom Cover for Building a Business Case

Next, list all the challenges you encounter in your job and how those situations cost your company time and money.

Then print the conference schedule and highlight all the sessions you think will address those problems.  To write the business case, use a detailed template or a simple one.

Portland Program At-a-Glance

Next, invite your boss to attend as well. Our 2017 program has plenty of sessions and workshops for managers, including a Manager-only networking event.

Add supporting information

Include comments from previous attendees in your business case. While you may not make thousands of dollars more in future negotiations as a result of attending as one attendee did, chances are that the data offered in the sessions and workshops offered at LavaCon will make you better informed and more productive. In the long run, LavaCon will save your company much more than the cost of attending.

Have you been working long hours? Back-to-back deadlines? Due any comp time? Mention to your boss that you have been contributing far above-and-beyond a normal 40-hour work week, and that attending the conference will not only result in the cost savings you outlined in the first part of your business case, but it will also pay back some of that comp time you have accrued.

Is your boss still not convinced? Contact Jack Molisani, and he will put your manager in touch with others who have sent people to LavaCon so they can speak manager-to-manager about the value of attending.

Good luck, and see you in Portland!

On the Road: Enabling Customer Success in Chicago – The LavaCon Conference: 2017

Jack Molisani is on the road! Join Jack in Chicago where he is speaking at the Chicago Content Strategy Meetup on July 19th and the STC Chicago chapter meeting on July 20th. Both meetings feature the topic, “People First Content Strategy: What I Learned From Facebook for Business,” in which Jack shares what he learned from the Content Strategy group at Facebook for Business—a team that enables customer success for billions of customers worldwide.

At this meeting, you will hear about the Facebook case study that fundamentally changed Jack’s own approach to content strategy and his ability to enable customer success. He will also talk about:

  • How Facebook for Business sets the tone for content
  • How they research and identify for whom they are writing
  • How content is just the tip of the Content Strategy Iceberg

Attend the meeting that works best with your schedule and location:

Chicago Content Strategy Meetup

Date: Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Location: Chicago, IL

Details: Chicago Content Strategists Meetup Website

STC Chicago Meeting

Date: Thursday, July 20, 2017

Location: Downers Grove, IL

Details: STC Chicago Website

Can’t attend either meeting? Check out Jack’s presentation at the Philly Content Strategy Meetup in April!

Get to Know: Lukasz Gornicki and Static Site Generators – The LavaCon Conference: 2017

Lukasz Gornicki, a Product Owner at SAP, presented “Static Site Generators are the Game Changers” at The LavaCon Conference in Dublin in May, and we are looking forward to seeing him in Portland! Thank you for joining us, Lukasz!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I started working as a technical writer six years ago. Previously, I was creating content as a Knowledge Manager, but it was not the same as writing documentation for software industry. I quickly grew more interested in content strategy and structure, and that’s when I became a Documentation Architect.

How did you first get interested in static site generators?

About three years ago, we started working on a new software product based on microservices and the cloud. After doing some research, I convinced the organization to start using static site generators. Then I became a product owner of the team that was implementing a documentation solution based on static site generators.

Can you give us a sneak preview of your talk (without giving too much away)?

I want to explain what static site generators are and which big companies are using them and how. I also plan to discuss why they need our attention and what we can achieve with them, such as the Content as a Service concept.

What is a typical day like for you?

Research, playing with new technologies, getting feedback from my customers and making sure my team delivers reliable product.

What would you recommend to someone who wanted to get started with static site generators?

First, define what you need. Do you want to play or find a generator to use at work? For work, you need to answer questions like, what you need it for? Do you have team that will implement it? What is the team’s preferred technology?

For play, I’ve listed some documentation templates for static site generators at https://github.com/derberg/docs-with-static-site-generators. Pick one, follow the readme to install it, and then try it. Play with the code to see how it affects the project and understand how it works. I’m preparing a workshop about “static site generators basics,” so you can also contact me for help. I will organize an online session and help you get started.

The most important thing is: don’t be afraid and think you are not a “technical person.” You do not need to be technical to get started. Instead, be brave enough to try and fail, and try and fail…until you are a pro. For me, static site generators were a career path changer. They pushed me towards programming and at the end, into product ownership. Learning something new always brings good things.

What do you do in your free time or when you are not working?

Plenty of things. I have three daughters, so I try to spend as much time as I can with them and my wife. I also do indoor climbing on Monday later afternoons. I am a huge fan of hiking. We have great mountains here in Poland, the Tatra Mountains. When I go abroad for business reasons, I try to hike over a weekend. This year, I hope I will finally go beyond 3000m and climb Mt. Hood, as for now my highest climb has been Mt. Musala in the Rila Mountains in Bulgaria.

I’m also trying to contribute to open source community when I have free time. When I was recovering after surgery earlier this year, I created a library for the community at https://github.com/derberg/arghun.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I like how I have influence over how people deliver documentation. And that I can innovate and break standards and suggest totally different approaches in writing, generating, and delivering documentation.

What are you looking forward to at LavaCon?

I want people to understand there are many different technologies that they can use. I want to point out the great community behind static site generators is and that others should follow. I hope to get a lot of feedback and to start an interesting discussion. I’m also interested in the other sessions from other people.

Want to learn more about static site generators? Register for The LavaCon Conference in Portland in November!