Category Archives: Technical Communication

New at WPMUDev: Previewing WordPress HelpHub

Hey folks, my latest WPMUDev blog story posted over the weekend. It’s a summary and preview of HelpHub, the upcoming home for WordPress.org’s user documentation site.

WordPress logo blue
WordPress logo blue (Wikipedia)

I really enjoyed writing this, as it combines two of my primary interests, WordPress and technical communication. I also got to poke around both the Documentation team’s area on Make.WordPress, and its Slack channel. Yes, I somehow found that fun.

What is HelpHub?

HelpHub has been in the pipeline as a potential replacement for the WordPress Codex since 2015, and the project is (at last) nearing the finish line. The hope is that HelpHub is more like other knowledge bases, a bit more useful to the average WordPress user, and will be easier to search.

The HelpHub Staging site
The HelpHub Staging site

The team could always use some help, so if you have some technical writing skills (and I know you’re reading this!) and some volunteer time to share, click that Documentation Team link in the second paragraph.

I am looking forward to seeing this new documentation site go live in 2018, even if I’ll miss the Codex just a little bit.

Next up: ElasticSearch

In the next couple weeks, I’ll have a tutorial in WPMUDev on enabling ElasticSearch on WordPress. ElasticSearch is a faster, more effective search engine than the default WP search. I’m playing with it now.

Have a few choice words about the current state of WordPress documentation? What would you like to see in the new HelpHub? Anything I  should know about ElasticSearch before I write this story? Feel free to drop a comment here. Try to keep it clean, though!

New on TechWhirl: Publish Help Content on WordPress with easyDITA

EasyDITA
EasyDITA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently got the chance to test out and review easyDITA‘s new WordPress publishing feature for TechWhirl. This web application lets technical communicators create web-based help using the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) and publish that content directly to a WordPress site. They’ve done a pretty nice job.

Read more at TechWhirl.

“Structuring Topics Without Structured Authoring” at WritersUA Central

I’m excited to be speaking on “Structuring Topics Without Structured Authoring” at WritersUA Central in Chicago on October 21.  This conference for technical communicators has long been one of my favorites, but it’s been awhile since I’ve been able to attend.

What will I talk about?

I’m going to outline my history of trying to deliver the right information to software users at the right time, and in the right format. Today that means being flexible in developing help for mobile devices, on the web, and for traditional desktop computers.  Using structured, topic-based authoring is one of the best ways to do that. Traditional help authoring tools like Adobe RoboHelp don’t always give you a direct way to enforce structure, but with some self-discipline, it’s possible.

What else is going on at the conference?

Over two days, you can get a lot of information from some pretty smart people in our profession. For example:

  • Former STC president Nicky Bleiel on Interviewing Subject Matter Experts and Collaborating in GitHub
  • Scott DeLoach covering best practices in several areas
  • Leigh White on Organizational Challenges in CMS Implementation
  • Mike Baron on WordPress as a CMS
  • Joe Welinske (the founder of WritersUA) on a variety of topics

Good stuff, huh?

More fun stuff

Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) in Chicago...
Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) in Chicago as seen from the Chicago river (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The conference is at the Willis Tower, one of the tallest buildings in the world. There’s a visit to the Skydeck on the agenda, so you can see all of Chicago at once. There will be networking lunches, and general fun with available adult beverages at the close of Day One.

So count on some fun too.

Monday, August 31 is the last day for early bird pricing for the conference, so head over to the conference website right now!

Hope to see you in Chicago!