“Sprints include writing docs! We need more people like you in the community, come and network!” was Jon Pugh’s reply to my tweet, when I was wondering if coming to this year’s New York Drupal Camp was right for content people like me.
NYC Camp 2013 was my third Drupal Camp, and from a content professional’s perspective, the best out of the three.
What is Drupal?
Drupal is an open-source, Web-based Content Management System (CMS or WCMS). Its competitors include free tools WordPress and Joomla!, and proprietary systems Adobe CQ5 and Microsoft SharePoint, among others. Unlike WordPress, which was initially developed as a blogging platform, Drupal is more of a framework to create web sites, on which additional functionality, called modules, can be added. Most modules are created by developers in the Drupal community, though the most useful often make it into the base installation, known as “Drupal core”. Continue reading A Tech Writer’s Thoughts on NYC Drupal Camp 2013
In the past two days, I’ve had two experiences at work that make me wonder if search has killed the table of contents (TOC). Continue reading Is the Table of Contents Dead Online?
At the excellent STC Mid-Atlantic conference sponsored by the Philadephia Metro chapter, security expert Ben Woelk suggested to the audience that they set up a Google alert for their name, so they know of any possible breaches or security issues. I did this awhile back, purely for security reasons (yeah, let’s go with that). Career Sherpa Hannah Morgan also noted at the conference that it’s important to search for yourself to see where and how you come up when prospective employers search for you. Afterward, I found that Google actually makes it easy for you to search for yourself on an ad-hoc basis. You can do this right now:
- Log in to your Google account at google.com/settings.
- Expand the Account section on the left, and select Me on the Web.
- Click Search Now.
On the same page, you can also have Google send you alerts when new information about your name or email address appears online.
Ben also spoke about the phishing emails that frequently look like they come from financial institutions or other businesses, whose goal is to get your account information and passwords. Many of these emails can look quite convincing.
I’ve found that an easy way to check if email is legitimate is simply to drag or move the email to your spam or junk mail folder. These folders turn hyperlinks into text, so you can see where exactly the email is coming from, and the sites to which they are linking. If the Web address doesn’t look obvious, such as bankofamerica.com, then don’t click on it.
Have additional security tips? Let us know in the comments.
I often get frustrated when people ask in technical communication forums and email lists what are the “current trends in help”. Why limit help to such a small, self-enclosed space, when we have an incredible wealth of knowledge that is current and also contains what users want: the Web.
There’s really no reason that help has to look like traditional “help”, and not like a web site, especially since framesets, the “technology” that creates the tri-pane TOC/content/navigation most help authors are familiar with, went out of style in, oh, 1999. MadCap is finally taking the lead here with frameset-less output, though I suspect Adobe’s RoboHelp isn’t far behind.
Continue reading Leveraging jQuery scripts and CSS3 in your Online Help #techcomm
This story is for intermediate to advanced help developers. It requires knowledge of HTML, CSS, and a help authoring tool such as MadCap Flare or Adobe Robohelp.
Have you ever been bored using Georgia, Tahoma, Verdana, and (sigh…) Arial over and over in your help projects? The font-face property has been available for some time in Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), but browser and font foundry support are only now allowing use of fonts other than those that ship with operating systems and applications, without workarounds like sIFR and cufon.
New technologies have sprouted up, with Google creating its own font API, and Adobe announcing font support through TypeKit. However, you can also save and host freely available font files on your company’s web server, or install on your users’ PCs, and use these fonts in your WebHelp projects. The web site Font Squirrel creates the CSS for you, using only free, embeddable fonts.
There are thousands of free fonts out there, but not all font creators support font embedding, so be sure to read any license agreement before using them in your projects.
MadCap’s Flare help authoring tool (HAT) uses CSS to style its WebHelp, so you can easily embed fonts into your help. This should work similarly in Adobe Robohelp. Continue reading How to Embed Fonts in MadCap Flare WebHelp