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Technical writer’s pick of presentations from Atlassian Summit 2010

Technical writer's pick of presentations from Atlassian Summit 2010

Technical writer's pick of presentations from Atlassian Summit 2010

Last week I attended Atlassian Summit 2010 in San Francisco. Summit is a conference hosted by Atlassian (the company where I work, though I’m in the Sydney office) for our customers. Because I was “on duty”, I didn’t get to attend as many of the sessions as I would have liked. The conference was awesome, and the sessions were of a very high standard. Luckily, they’re available on video.

There are a number of videos on the Atlassian Summit 2010 site – one for every single session. I’m sure you’d love to watch them all, but that will take a bit of time. Someone told me they amount to 40 hours of viewing!

So I’ve had a look at the videos and picked out a few that I enjoyed and that are particularly relevant to technical writers:

  • Confluence at NASA: Where No Wiki Has Gone Before, by Nick Smith of Freedom Information Systems. Nick has two aims: Firstly to inspire us, by letting us know that NASA uses the same tools as we are using. In particular, Confluence wiki. And secondly to let us in on the things they’ve learned from using the NASA wiki. Nick’s talk is a case study of the Ares Preliminary Design Review that took place in 2008. They created the “Ares Reviews Wiki” using Confluence. Thousands of people used the wiki to review a set of 75 documents (large, complex documents) over a period of two weeks. The documents were the design specifications for Ares I Rocket, a replacement for the Space Shuttle. Nick tells of the success of the project and runs through the lessons they learned from the project. Very useful, and an engaging presentation style. Good work Nick!
  • Building a kick-ass Confluence page in 10 minutes, by Matt Hodges of Atlassian. This is an awesome lightning talk where Matt shows us how to use some advanced Confluence features to build a complex page in 10 minutes. I attended this session in real life, so I know it was great. A definite must-see.
  • Felt the earth move when I read your docs, by Sarah Maddox of Atlassian. Rumour has it that I attended this one too. 🙂 This was my presentation, taking up the first 22 minutes of the video. It’s all about using social media to engage your readers in the documentation. I’ve also written a summary blog post with links to the download files and video.
  • Confluence as a Support Knowledge Base, by Jeremy Largman of Atlassian. Jeremy and I shared a session. Jeremy’s presentation is in the second half of the video, starting around the 22 minute mark. He talks about using Confluence as a support knowledge base and the tools the support team have built to extend Confluence. His presentation is awesome and packed with information. Well worth a watch.
  • Labels Magic – Using Labels in Confluence to Manage Information for a Release Cycle, by Anthony Pelosi from the San Francisco User Group. One often-cited problem is how to find content and information in the wiki. Anthony gives a great demonstration of using labels and the content-by-label macro as a flexible approach to organising and finding information.
  • No Coding Necessary – Building User Macros and Dynamic Reports Inside Confluence, by Charles Hall of Astrium. This session is for more advanced and technically-oriented Confluence users. Charles Hall starts with a great introduction to user macros, what they are and what you can do with them. No coding necessary… well, except a bit of jQuery and… ! Now Charles rolls up his sleeves and gets serious. This is an excellent session for people who want to do more with their wiki.
  • Building Awesome Dashboards with Confluence, by Jim Severino of Atlassian. In the second half of this session shared with Charles, Jim Severino describes how to build awesome dashboards with Confluence. He starts off by showing some of the Confluence pages we use at Atlassian, showing graphical reports and data in a dashboard-like format. Examples are product revenue dashboard, a build and infrastructure dashboard, customer services graphs and so on. Next Jim tells us about the free plugins available that you can use to manipulate data, all created by customers and available on the Atlassian Plugin Exchange. Jim goes on to tell us how to use the plugins to create graphical data dashboards on Confluence. A very interesting and informative session, again for people who want to do extra magic on their wiki.
  • Mastering JIRA Workflow, by Christina Bang of Atlassian. This is an awesome in-depth look at JIRA workflow, by someone who really knows her stuff. JIRA is a web-based tool for project management and issue tracking, developed by Atlassian. Watch the video then download Christina’s expert guide to JIRA workflow. The PDF file is linked above the video. Essential viewing if you want to change the basic, default workflow to suit your team and your procedures. In particular this is relevant to technical writers who may need to adapt the default, software-development-based JIRA workflow to create a different set of steps and statuses, issues and tasks more suited to documentation development, review and publication.

There are some other really great sessions that I haven’t mentioned here, with lots of useful technical and procedural tips. In particular, if you’re interested in agile software development, you may find some useful sessions on the Summit site. I hope my selections give you lots of happy viewing.

Social media in technical documentation – a presentation

Last week I attended Atlassian Summit 2010. This was a conference in San Francisco focusing on Atlassian products such as Confluence wiki, JIRA issue tracker and more. At Summit, I presented a session on using social media in technical documentation. We also got a bit emotional about the docs. 😉

This was pretty cool. It’s the first time I’ve given a talk at an Atlassian conference. I was totally stoked and very nervous. Apart from a technical glitch or two (basically, Twitter was borked and my presentation was supposed to use Twitter) all went well. The audience was great. Thank you guys!

Downloading the presentation and watching the video

If you like, you can watch the video of me doing the talk (yes, they filmed me!) or download the slides:

  • Watch the video of me giving the presentation on the Atlassian Summit 2010 site. You’ll see two big picture boxes in the right-hand half of the screen. The top one is the video. The first 22 minutes are my part of the session. In the second half of the video, Jeremy Largman talks about using Confluence as a support knowledge base and the tools the support team have built to extend Confluence. His presentation is awesome and packed with information. Well worth a watch. If you’d like to bump up our ratings, click the “Like” button just above the video. Let me know what you think of it too. I’m quite pleased with the way it turned out. I was expecting far worse! I was quite nervous, and my mouth got very dry. They’ve done a really great job of compiling the video with me and the presentation slides in one single view.
  • See the slides on Slideshare: Felt the earth move when I read your docs (Slideshare)
  • Download the slides in PDF form (1,901 KB) from this blog post that you’re reading now: Felt the earth move when I read your docs (slides only)
  • Download the slides with notes in PDF form (1,907 KB) from this blog post: Felt the earth move when I read your docs (slides with notes)

Summary of the presentation

My talk was called “Felt the earth move when I read your docs“. Actually, it was originally called “Felt the earth move when I read your docs, mate” but someone with a fair bit of influence 😉 suggested that I remove the word “mate” from the title. You may notice that the word sneaked into the presentation itself anyway! Here’s a still image that I grabbed from the video:

Social media in technical documentation - a presentation

Social media in technical documentation - a presentation

It’s all about using social media to engage readers in the documentation. It’s also about fun and games and a bit of emotion in the docs. We looked at these tools:

  • Confluence wiki
  • Twitter
  • Flickr
  • Wufoo

And we saw how we can use them in technical documentation:

  • Using comments and forms to get actionable feedback from readers and customers.
  • Linking to external blogs from within the documentation.
  • How you can set up and manage your documentation while allowing external people to edit it.
  • Using Twitter as a medium for release notes.
  • Encouraging customers and readers to tweet hints and tips, and publishing the Twitter stream in your documentation.
  • Holding a doc sprint.

To round it off, we looked at the Atlassian Dragon Slayer documentation, which combines a game, social interaction and a laugh with good solid well-tested technical writing.

More

The Atlassian Summit presentation is related to one I gave at AODC recently. If you’re interested in a lot more detail about each of the topics covered here, then take a look at my earlier post: AODC 2010 day 2: Engaging your readers in the documentation.

Craig Smith snapped a cool picture of me giving the presentation. He also wrote some great summaries in his Atlassian Summit 2010 Day 1 Wrapup.  Thanks Craig!

At the end of my slides are a number of references and links that I hope you’ll find useful. They include links to blog posts by other technical writers who are experimenting with social media and other adventures in the docs.

The Atlassian web site has a lot more Summit presentations, including a number about Confluence and how people are using it.

Attending this conference was a great experience. I’m really lucky to have had the chance to be there and to meet all those great people. Thank you to all the attendees for the ideas you brought and the fun we had.

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