TCANZ 2010 day 1 – Presentation of Adobe Corporation products

I’m attending the TCANZ Conference 2010 in Wellington, New Zealand. Ankur Jain gave a great presentation on the key trends in technical communication as seen by Adobe, and how the Adobe products fit into the picture. Ankur is the product manager for Adobe RoboHelp. He suffered through a 22-hour flight to get here, all the way from Delhi. That’s dedication! These are the notes I took during the session. All credit goes to Ankur. Any mistakes are mine.

This is what Adobe is hearing from their customers, the technical communicators: Our users want more from us. They want interactive, collaborative, personalised, rich documentation experiences, and on multiple devices.

Disruption in technical documentation breeds vast opportunity for technical communicators.

Ankur talked about the key changes/disruptions in technical documentation:

  • Collaboration and content re-use. Amongst authors, yes, but also between authors and subject-matter experts. Developers. End-users. Technical communicators also want to work with user-contributed content. At a recent technical communication conference in Delhi, a technical communicator said that her team contributes only 30% of the content. The other 70% is written by the users. So it’s a multi-author environment.
  • Content access and search. People need to get the right content at the right time through the right medium. Adobe sees search as becoming more important. It’s not limited to just the search shipped with the product, but extends to blogs, wikis, etc. Technical writers are moving toward the role of content curation, ensuring that users find the right information.
  • Rich media in technical documentation, like videos and 3-D objects.
  • New generation content formats: Ankur concentrated on AIR Help (the Adobe Help Viewer) and ePub for mobile devices.
  • Content personalisation and optimisation. End-users want the information that is relevant to them. Persona-based content is becoming more important. “Optimisation” means the ability to improve your content over a period of time. For example, you can adapt it based on how the users are using your content, which geographic area they are coming from, etc.

From this point in the presentation, Ankur focused on the Adobe products:

  • RoboHelp as an authoring environment, and as a tool for integrating with your CMS, for publishing on multiple devices, and for providing hosting and analytics.
  • Adobe Help Viewer.
  • And all other components of the Adobe Technical Communication Suite 2.5.

Interesting: Ankur asked for a show of hands of people who are using any Adobe product. Most people in the room put up their hands. Ankur said that this is common: Most technical communicators are using Adobe.

Adobe believes in the following model for content creation: Create content, measure, improve, continuously innovate. Ankur focused on how Adobe products help with the “measure” part of this cycle, by providing a passive way to collect feedback from the users.

RoboHelp Server 8 does this for you. You can request the following reports:

  • Frequently-searched content
  • Terms searched but not found
  • Areas of the application requiring help – from the context-sensitive help.
  • Frequently-viewed content
  • Usage statistics for browser, OS, etc
  • Search and content effectiveness and trends in their effectiveness.
  • Help system errors.

Thank you Ankur for a comprehensive, whirl-wind tour of the Adobe products!

About Sarah Maddox

Technical writer, author and blogger in Sydney

Posted on 2 September 2010, in technical writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. This is very helpful, Sarah. Thank you for the recap. I wish I could be there with you all. One day!

    • Thank you Tristan! I’m looking forward to meeting up one day soon too.🙂 This is the first time I’ve attended a TCANZ conference, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
      Cheers, Sarah

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