Archive for X-Edit Family

Briefly

Posted in Analyzer, Blaze, Flare, MadCap, MadCap Blaze, Madcap flare, MadCap software with tags , , , , on December 4, 2008 by Mike

We released updates to Flare 4, Blaze 1, Analyzer 2, and the X-Edit family of products yesterday.

If you own these, you’ll see a prompt when you open them (assuming you’re connected to the internet). Just follow the prompts and you’ll be automatically updated.

Mostly these are performance fixes and import fixes, many of which were reported by our users. A shout out goes to our Dev team for making this happen. Good work, guys!

On a personal note

The day started yesterday with the awful news that Adobe laid off up to 600 people. My heart goes out to those laid off. It’s never good and in this economy and with Christmas 3 weeks away, this is just bad all the way.

And AT&T announced layoffs this morning – I have a friend there. I hope he gets thru this OK. Just bad.

We at MadCap wish all those laid off a swift and painless journey to your next good thing. I’m so sorry this has happened to you.

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Another Saturday morning

Posted in Blaze, MadCap, MadCap Blaze, MadCap software, Personal, technical writing with tags , , , , on November 22, 2008 by Mike

And I’m still jet-lagging. I pass out at 8pm and then wake up at 4:30am. I really tried to stay awake last night – I fell asleep sitting on the couch. Next thing I knew, Current Husband woke me up and sent me to bed. At 8:15p. I felt like it had to be really late.

So here it is, 6:30a and I’ve been up for 2 hours. I’m a relentless 2 to 3 hours off my current time zone and it’s annoying, to say the least.

Driving along in my automobile

Yesterday, I went to Sylmar (yup, 100 miles away) and showed Blaze and the X-Edit family of products to a customer. They’re interested in using the workflow in these products to do a better job of writing, managing, and producing proposals.

The VP of Engineering wants to save money and do a better job of more accurately producing proposals for their projects. In the current recession, this is a very reasonable thing for the company to want. They need to still get new projects but keep costs down on the bidding for projects part.

Workflow improvements

I showed how breaking the proposal into bits (topics) and then essentially assembling them on the fly (using Outlines) would let them leverage the content they already have, reducing the cost of new proposals. They can send the bits out for review from Blaze, using X-Edit Review to review those bits and then get the comments back into Blaze.

We talked about Snippets and how these let you make even smaller bits, like company information, reusable and would reduce errors in this content, while letting you reuse in many proposals.

They liked that they could still let people author content in Word and it would import into Blaze. They also liked X-Edit Contribute, letting them author in an easy to use Blaze template.

Content is different than format

They also liked the part where Blaze separates the content from the formatting. They sometimes need to build a proposal with their company branding but sometimes they need the proposal to have the parent company branding, for example. They liked how easy this would be to swap out in 2 easy steps.

All in all, it was a great look at Blaze and X-Edit and I had a great time showing our products. It made the 3 hour drive home worth it.

Funny story from Germany

I had one day to really see Munich, my last day in country. It was a lovely late Fall day, the temps were in the low 50s and the sun was shining. I walked to the Residence and spent about 3 hours looking at this amazing museum and walking the garden. Great time.

As I was walking around the central part of Old Munich, I saw a banner on the Glokenspiel that said: “german word, german word, Nazi, german word, german word.

Well, I thought, that combined with all the police and police vans and the barricades must mean something. But who knows? And it’s all in German so I’m sure it doesn’t affect me at all. I’ll just go into this wonderful book store I wanted to visit and see if I can find a book.

When I was done at the bookstore, I started back to my hotel. I was about 2 blocks from the hotel when I saw a whole bunch more police and barricades being set up and police vans. And another banner that said: german word, german word, german word, Nazi, german word. I looked behind me and there were a lot of people marching towards me.

So I asked a man standing at the corner with me. He said: “There is a pro-Nazi protest coming from over there (pointing to from whence I came). There are anti-Nazi protestors marching from there (pointing to where I was going). They will meet here (pointing to our corner).”

Ah, I thought. So I’m Belgium right now. Perhaps I should just go back to my hotel room and hang out for a while. Maybe pack and read my new book.

So I did.

Later, I found pictures on the Internet from this protest. Yes, much shoving and police force and such. My absense went unnoticed.

The plan

It’s supposed to start raining this week so I need to get the yard set up for winter, get new tires on the car, and do other household sorts of things this weekend. I’d also like to stay awake after 8pm.

They’re modest goals but they’re my goals. We have to start somewhere.

Beta, beta, everywhere

Posted in Blaze, Flare, MadCap, Tech Comm with tags , , , , on April 7, 2008 by Mike

Last week was busy for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was 3 products being released into beta.

Blaze Early Experience Refresh

I want to thank the people who have beat up Blaze so far. We really appreciate the efforts. We’re releasing a refresh to the Early Experience. When you download the refresh, uninstall any previous version you may have and reboot before you install.

If you haven’t looked at Blaze, sign up to participate in the public Early Experience. Go to our website at http://www.madcapsoftware.com/products/blaze/ and sign up. We’re offering great prizes to those who find the most verified issues, such as gift certificates to Amazon. If this product is going to do what you want it to do, then we need you to help us know what that is. So go forth, download, and work with it.

X-Edit beta

X-Edit allows anyone to contribute content into your Flare or Blaze workflow. Now the everyday content contributor can open your Flare or Blaze topic templates and start creating content. This allows “casual contributors” to create short documents and add content using the correct styles and other project formatting options.

X-Edit Express beta

X-Edit Express is the free tool for reviewing content sent to you from a Flare or Blaze project. Using X-Edit Express, you can easily open topics created by the Flare or Blaze user. Depending on the options set by the Flare or Blaze user, you can annotate the topic or edit it. When you’re done, just email the topic back to the Flare or Blaze user to get your comments into the project. 

Go to http://www.madcapsoftware.com/products/xedit/ to sign up and download one or more of these products.

Why do you care? Workflow. Better workflow = more time for content development, that’s why

These products support and improve your workflow. It goes like this:

X-Edit helps when you have a workflow where people are contributing content. I did a project once where I took the HR content that other people developed and put it into a help project. The people writing the content knew nothing about the tool I was using and I knew nothing about their HR policies. This is a common workflow.

X-Edit lets these people just write content that they send to you. You just add their content to your project, do what indexing, etc you need to, and you’re good to go. No converting from Word, no dealing with everything in Normal and hand formatted. Just easy to import content.

X-Edit Express is used in review time. Send a topic for review inside Blaze or Flare 4. The reviewer downloads the free X-Edit Express, opens the topic and makes the level of changes you allowed – either annotations or directly edit actual content. One click sends it back to you when they are done.

X-Edit: Creating templates for your X-Edit users

If you want, in Blaze or Flare 4, you can define a template for your X-Edit users. This is really useful because it limits how and what formats your users can use. No more wacky formatting. They can still hand format stuff, but this should reduce that, hopefully.

When you create the template, you can also specify what items are locked in the template. Why would you want to do that? Well, in our HR example, say all documents must have certain sections. You can add a locked heading for each and the users can’t delete it.


The headings with the gray background are locked. The users can’t delete or change the text in them. The narrative text under each heading can be deleted and new text added. Locking headings means that you may spend less time chasing people down, reminding them that these kinds of documents need that sort of information. It’s right in the document.

Templates can be stored on a network drive somewhere with a name that reflects what they are for. Then tell your users to go there and get the template for the kind of document they want to write.

Easy pleasey.

 

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.