Archive for the Analyzer Category

STC in Philly

Posted in Analyzer, Blaze, Flare, MadCap, Personal, Tech Comm, technical writing with tags , , , on June 2, 2008 by Mike

Well, the first full day of the STC International conference is over and I’m back in my hotel room. I’ve ordered room service and a glass of wine. My feet and legs hurt and my brain is going to explode.

It was a very fun day.

The MadCap booth is amazing – 20 feet by 20 feet and visible from anywhere in the large vendor area. Mike took pictures and we’ll have them posted soon. But it’s large and looks great.

We’re doing demos all day on various products and they’re really well attended. The buzz is strong.

As usual when I go to a conference, I have seen lots of people I’ve not seen for a while, so much of my day is spent smiling and hugging people. I really like that part of my job.

Room service is about to appear and I have an entire day of email to catch up on. More later in the week. I need to eat and drink a glass of wine. The day starts at 8:30 tomorrow morning.

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Wow. WritersUA is a fun crowd.

Posted in Analyzer, Blaze, MadCap, Personal with tags , , , , , , , on March 20, 2008 by Mike

WritersUA is about the most fun I’ve had in a while. I got to:

  • see people I’ve not seen in a while, sometimes years
  • meet new people
  • do presentations and demos
  • listen to people talk about what they like and don’t like about our products
  • see some of my former staff
  • crawl back to the hotel room at the end of the day (Tip here: Don’t wear heels if you do booth duty)
  • nearly blow out my voice
  • watch Portland’s SWAT team show up at the hotel

Could you ask for more? Not without being greedy, I think.

So, what did we announce?

Lots of stuff. Here’s a list:

  • Blaze went to public beta Monday morning. I strongly suggest you download it and then attend one of my demos to get started with it.
  • Team Server – a Documentation workflow management tool that goes from content to review to CMS to localization to source control. It’s going to be great.
  • Press – a glossy print product. This one lets you have multiple article flows, automatic jump pages and more.
  • X-Edit – a small document product for people who need to contribute content but shouldn’t have a full version of Flare or Blaze. The documents that X-Edit creates can be brought seamlessly into a Flare or Blaze project.
  • X-Edit Express – a free reviewers tool that either edits or annotates Flare or Blaze topics. It fits into the review workflow for Blaze or Flare.
  • New product manager – Pat Dear is our new e-learning product manager who started Sunday at the show. We figure if she floats, she’s a witch [historical reference here, no Wicca bashing intended or implied]. She’s going to add a lot to our product line with her expertise in the e-learning field. We’re happy to have her!

The product I’m super excited about is Team Server. We’re working on it right now, so if you have ideas about how we can make your workflow easier, send them to me and I’ll pass them along.

People who need people…

One of the first people I saw at the show was Eddie Van Arlesdale whose name I’m sure I’m misspelling but I can’t find the card he gave me. I met Eddie a long time ago, the first time I was in Washington DC. He’s a sweetie pie and I told him I need to come back to DC and see people there. It’s perhaps my 3rd favorite city, right after Rome and Mexico City, in that order.

I also saw, in no particular order, Geoff Hart, Char James-Tanny, Sarah O’Keefe, John Hedtke, Sue Heim, Bonni Graham, Elaine Randolph, the fun Docs group for the client I saw a few weeks ago in Dallas, and way too many other people for my tired brain to remember. For a while it seemed as tho I was spending all my time hugging people. I really enjoyed it. Just so fun to see all of us in one place.

I also met many new people. When the sessions were out, we were swamped with people – sometimes 15 people deep. It seemed that everyone at the conference came around to see our products and talk to us. I tried to talk to everyone but it was hard because there were just so many.

Working clean is harder than not

Mike and I (Mike more than I) presented several products. We also drafted our Tech Writer Paul to do several demos about what Tech writers would like in Flare. He was amazing. He did stand-up comedy in the past, too, but was more successful than I was. He also works clean, which is much harder than it looks. It’s actually easier to work dirty, which is how my material goes. But Paul did a great job and I was pleased to have him helping with these.

The in-booth demos were a zoo. We had people standing all over the place watching. I did 2, I think, and I enjoyed both of them. Very good stuff.

We also did several presentations that showed more detail about our tools. I did Analyzer with RJ the product evangelist for FrameMaker in the back of the room. I was delighted to have him. The room was pretty full and people asked great questions, some of which I could answer! Some of those questions were really technical and I’m going to have to get back to people. The stuff you guys think of…

Past lives, present voyages

I ran into some of my former staff and had a chance to talk to them and catch up. It’s good seeing them. At my former employer, I had the rare fortune of leading a very talented group of people and I miss them still. I want only the best for them and it was fun to see them and catch up.

It was particularly good to run into Don, who I spent 3 months trying to fire. In the end, he was one of the most valuable employees I had and I’m glad I didn’t fire him. I was completely wrong about him and his abilities. I’ve rarely been this happy to be so wrong. He’s a very talented writer and I miss working with him.

No, honey, this time the SWAT team has nothing to do with me …

So I was outside the hotel yesterday afternoon, talking to several people, and said “I’m going to get coffee at the Starbucks on the corner.” I turned around and there was a large group of well armed Portland SWAT team men, all hanging on a SWAT truck, parked in front of the Hilton. Behind them was another truck, another load of well armed men. I looked up the street and saw more. “Hmm…”, I thought. “I better get that coffee right now.”

In the Starbucks, I asked and it turned out that there was an anti-war protest planned to march down our street. Portland police appeared in large numbers to make sure it was a peaceful protest, I was told. Nevertheless, I scurried back to the hotel.

Then I realized that if my husband turned the TV on and saw large numbers of heavily armed SWAT teams in front of a Hilton in Portland, he might flip right out. Husbands can be so tense sometimes. I called to tell him about it. I got to the part about heavily armed SWAT teams outside and he actually asked “What did you do this time?” I think he was joking.

But after they hung out for about an hour and nothing happened, they all piled on their trucks, adjusted their helmets, and left the area. Apparently, the crisis was averted.

And I left for the airport 2 hours later for an uneventful flight home.

Analyzer – Adding stylesheets to your project

Posted in Analyzer, MadCap with tags , on January 24, 2008 by Mike

I was playing around in Analyzer, thinking about some of the questions I get asked in demos and such when I found a neat thing.

What if you have another stylesheet you want to add to the current project? Or you want to apply another stylesheet to a topic?

There’s no reason you can’t do either in Flare (or soon, Blaze) but if you’ve got Analyzer open, why not just add or change the stylesheet while you’re here? Here’s how you do it.

  1. Open a topic in Analyzer.
  2. On the Tools menu, click Stylesheet links.

Now if you click Add, you can add an existing stylesheet to your project.

You can also see what stylesheet is being used by the current topic. If you want to change the stylesheet that’s associated with this topic, just click the one on the left and move it to the list on the right. Now move the one you want from the right to the Current Links area.

Pretty sweet!

Analyzer Tips and Tricks

Posted in Analyzer, Blaze, Flare, MadCap with tags on January 22, 2008 by Mike

I demo-ed MadCap Analyzer today and it went really well. I like Analyzer a lot because it finds and helps solve problems in Flare and, soon, Blaze projects. It’s fun to show it to people so they can understand what issues they can take care of if they use Analyzer.

What Analyzer does is scans your Flare or Blaze project and finds “issues”. Some of these issues may be real problems and some may be housekeeping problems that would be good to clean up but don’t have to be.

One of the things I really like showing is the Topics Not in Index list. Open the first topic you want to start indexing. Then go to the used Index Words list and press F9. Now you see what topics need to be indexed and  your existing index entries for this project. You can start indexing the topics that haven’t been indexed with the existing keywords right there for you. indexanalyzer.png

 

Really, nothing else comes close to this. Not even IxGen for FrameMaker, a tool I love if I’m in Frame. I really hate indexing and I know that a solid index is really needed by the users. This makes indexing a lot easier.