Looking at Software We Use

I  want to try to start a regular addition to the blog – evaluating software that we technical writers use. I’d like to invite you to write a guest post on a tool you find to be especially useful. I’ve been using Flare as an option for creating online help for many versions. WritePoint remains relatively vendor-neutral.

What that means is that we evaluate a lot of tools (not all, but quite a few) on a regular basis and become experts in them – enough to use, advise, troubleshoot, and train, typically. We are, I believe, recognized as a center for expertise in RoboHelp, Flare, and DocToHelp – not bad, actually.

We also have our FrameMaker experts, our DITA experts, and our Word experts – and sometimes all three at once! I did a session showing a large company the features and benefits of the latest version of Madcap Flare and realized that we could probably all benefit from these types of updates. So, in the next few weeks, please join us in a tour of the latest versions of various applications – what they offer you as a documentation creator, and, where possible, their advantages and disadvantages. I’m interested in hearing (and telling you) about the features we as technical writers use.

For example, it’s all well and good that you can make text fly in from the side of the screen, do a wiggly-woo on the screen, and then settle ever so gently in the center of the PowerPoint slide, but that isn’t something that a technical writer should ever incorporate in a training session. I want to cover those amazing features that we find incredibly useful to ourselves and our end-users. Like snippets…I love snippets!

So – this is sort of the intro post – more a call for contributions than anything else. I hope you’ll take a few minutes and evaluate your favorite applications. I think we’ll start with some of the core products – Word 2010, FrameMaker 10, etc., move into the various help authoring tools, and perhaps graphics programs we use as well. We started using a great contacts database application; we’re still looking for the ideal scheduling application that fits our requirements. All these and more in the coming weeks.

And if you want us to evaluate a particular software, let us know that too!

Please join us on the journey – even better – please consider writing a guest blog post to help round out the topics!