Skribenta

Perfecting the Review Process: Chefs, Tech Writers, and Questions from the Test Kitchen

By Joakim Ström

Many years ago, I heard my colleague (and founder of Excosoft) Jan Christian Herlitz say that reusable content is like food. Each reusable component is an ingredient in the kitchen, and with a recipe we can combine ingredients into a dish—a complete document.

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Skribenta User Experience

Why Reading and Learning in Wikipedia is More Productive with Wikiview

By JC Herlitz

 

When it comes to digesting information, one of the basic human tendencies is the utilization of abstractions. We learn it very early. It’s how, for instance, we’re able to identify the creature standing in front of us as a dog, when we’ve never even seen a Boxer before.

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Information Design Skribenta
Wikiview

Skribenta and The Debated Translation Unit

By Peter Strömbäck

As providers of Skribenta, a CCMS with integrated translation memory, we sometimes receive inquiries from customers and translation agencies who are curious about the possibilities. There’s this one question in particular which we receive rather frequently:

Is it technically possible to output translation files segmented on the sentence level?

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Excosoft Skribenta Tech Writer Tips
category author

The Flexibility You Didn't Know Existed in a Structured Documentation System

By Niklas Thorin

The fundamental idea behind structured documentation systems is that they allow their users to easily find and reuse documentation, and sync up with other systems. A common complaint, however, is that if changes are made to the underlying structure, everything and everybody is affected.

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Excosoft Skribenta

How Granular is Your CCMS?

By Peter Strömbäck

Information re-use is a key feature of all advanced Component Content Management Systems (CCMS). Instead of copy-pasting text or authoring the same content over and over again, publications are built-up from little pieces of information that are created and maintained individually, allowing them to be re-used across multiple publications. Few voice dissent; it’s an efficient way of working, with cuts in authoring and translation costs as the main motivators.

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Excosoft Information Design Info Tech Trends Skribenta Tech Writer Tips

How Can We Help Users Judge the Relevance of Content?

By Jonatan Lundin

It’s not difficult for a user to find information—it’s as simple as opening a user manual or performing a Google search. What users often find difficult, is assessing whether the found information is relevant to their specific information need.  A crucial component of end user assistance is, therefore, supporting the user in judging the relevance of what they find.

Are you a technical communicator working as an information architect to increase your content’s findability, with the goal of creating a happy user experience for your customers? Then this article is for you. Read on to find out how you can better support users in making accurate relevance judgments by designing your content for enhanced findability.

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Excosoft Information Design Skribenta

Put the Tech Doc on Management's Agenda

By Niklas Thorin

Something that’s really stuck out for me in my two years working with technical documentation is this enduring friction between technical documentation groups and business managers— they just don’t understand each other. While management chronically undervalues the very purpose of the tech doc, frustrated technical documentation groups are silently teeming with knowledge of it’s hidden potential.

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Excosoft Info Tech Trends Skribenta

Machine Translation– Friend or Foe?

By Peter Strömbäck

Machine Translation (MT) is a major force to be reckoned with in the field of technical communication today. Whereas the human translator works for a salary and at their own steady pace, Machine Translation gets the job done for next to nothing and with unprecedented expediency. It’s no wonder so many are looking to Machine Translation to cut costs. However, despite such savings there exists a trade off when it comes to the quality of the end product. For documentation departments, or other purchasers of technical translations, some insight into Machine Translation may be valuable. What follows is a simple primer on the basics.

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Excosoft Info Tech Trends Skribenta Translation

How We Built Excosoft: The Importance of Keys

By JC Herlitz

It’s worth taking a moment to pay tribute to the tools of the time, when EXCO was first coming into being. EXCO was developed in the context of a key-centric, terminal-based computer era— a stark contrast to today’s mouse pointing, screen-touching navigational approach. Let me paint a picture of what working on computers was like in those days.

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Excosoft Skribenta

3 Things All Tech Writers Struggle With

By Niklas Thorin

Being in the technical documentation business, we naturally maintain close contact with the inner world of technical documentation and the users of our product—the tech writers themselves. In the interest of being able to offer the best product possible, it’s our job to understand the everyday life of tech writers: How they work, what they're aiming to achieve, as well as what challenges they encounter most.

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Excosoft Info Tech Trends Skribenta User Experience

Could Forming an Office Music Band Optimize Teamwork?

By Peter Strömbäck

I’ve recently made a curious discovery about my fellow co-workers. Whether it's a lunchtime break or the rare after-work, for some reason our conversation tends to gravitate toward the subject of music. One employee will say, “I used to be an opera singer.” Another will volunteer, “I play the guitar.” Me? I play the oboe. Even the CEO is in on this peculiar pattern,  we eventually find out, with his lifelong devotion to playing the piano.

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Excosoft Skribenta User Experience

How We Built Excosoft: The Early Adopters

By JC Herlitz

EXCO for Programmers

Back at Ericsson Radio, following my 1980 summer holiday, I presented EXCO Editor to my colleagues. It was very well received and programmers started to write hierarchical code.

This technique later became known as Literate Programming.  In Literate Programming, the real code is wrapped inside pseudo-code, i.e. descriptive titles which document the code. Pseudo-code can be wrapped in higher levels of pseudo-code, thus creating higher levels of abstraction.

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Excosoft Skribenta

Managing Variation in Reused Content with Configuration and Automation

By Joakim Ström

It’s time to wrap up this series on Managing Variation in Reused Content. We have investigated some basic techniques in part 1 and part 2. In part 3,  I made the case that heavily customized documentation is often best handled in separate version branches. Before concluding, let’s take a quick look at two advanced topics: configuration, and automation.

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Excosoft Information Design Skribenta

4 Tips for Translation-Friendly Tech Writing

By Peter Strömbäck

As a fairly new member of the Excosoft team, I’m honoured to add a few words to our blogosphere. My background isn’t foremost in engineering, but rather in linguistics, translation, and technical writing—so I'll be contributing on those topics.

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Excosoft Information Design Skribenta Translation User Experience

A CCMS for the Content Providers

By Niklas Thorin

Technical specialists are the content providers in the world of technical documentation. Whereas technical writers take on the role of editing product information for optimal user comprehension, the content providers are the inventors, product owners, and technical specialists standing closest to the product itself. They possess in-depth knowledge of how a given product works, why it exists, and what solutions it has to offer its users.

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Excosoft Info Tech Trends Skribenta User Experience

How We Built Excosoft: The Dawn of the EXCO Editor

By JC Herlitz

An Electronic Engineer Turned Programmer

In 1975, Stansaab, a company outside of Stockholm, got a big order from the Soviet Union: 3 air traffic control systems for Moscow, Kiev, and Mineralnye Vody. USSR wanted to be prepared for the increased air traffic expected in 1980, the year of the Olympic games in Moscow.

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Excosoft Skribenta

Managing Variation in Reused Content with Version Control

By Joakim Ström

In part 1 and part 2 of the Managing Variation in Reused Content series, we covered two basic techniques: Injection, and Conditions.  Injection is a method where values, or small pieces of text— often names or measurements— are extracted from topics, and stored as variables. When the topics are to be published, the values are loaded from the appropriate variables and injected into the correct place in the text. Conditions function as filters, sifting through parts of a topic, and adapting it to a given context. 

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Excosoft Information Design Skribenta Tech Writer Tips

Managing Variation in Reused Content with Conditions

By Joakim Ström

In part 1 of the Managing Variation in Reused Content series we investigated the basic technique of Injection, in which interchangeable names are extracted from topics and stored as variables, which are then injected back into a given topic when it is published. Injection is extremely effective in some situations, but many content variations are more complex and require a different approach. A more versatile technique is the use of conditions.

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Excosoft Information Design Skribenta

Managing Variation in Reused Content with Injection

By Joakim Ström

For technical communicators, the concept of reusing content is easy to understand. Chunk the content up into smaller, self-sufficient units that can be used independently of context, then combine the units as needed to assemble different documents. This is the fundamental idea behind topic-based authoring. One question that often comes up is, how small or large should the chunks be? This can be approached from two different angles: by considering either what is relevant for the reader, or what is practical for the writer. Ideally we should only consider the needs of the reader, but is that really possible? It depends upon the answer to another question: how is variation managed in reused content?

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Excosoft Information Design Skribenta

The Catch-22 and the Super Manuals that Saved the Day

By Niklas Thorin

Metso Minerals and their technical documentation department were snagged in a catch-22. The renaissance of the mining industry had presented them with a great opportunity to thrive and expand, yet a time consuming technical documentation process was threatening their competitiveness in the marketplace.

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Excosoft Information Design Info Tech Trends Skribenta User Experience

Turning the Tables: Putting Technical Communicators in the Driver's Seat

By Joakim Ström

The role of technical communicators may be about to change. Corporations are increasingly making use of the knowledge production capabilities built up within their technical documentation teams to drive business processes, and create value beyond the documentation itself.

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Excosoft Information Design Skribenta User Experience

Do You Have a Get-Online Strategy for Your Tech Doc?

By Niklas Thorin

All companies want to be on-time to the market. Just listen to the commentary being exchanged in the corridor, like “We must launch this in an APP”, or, “I saw that in company X’s new series they can control their system from a tablet… why can’t we?”

Why not be among the first with an online solution? Upgrading your technical documentation is an easy first step, and can act as a seed of expansion; leading to seamless integration with other critical business systems, and resulting in a truly holistic online solution for both you and your customers.

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Excosoft Info Tech Trends Skribenta

Upgrade Your Unfriendly User Manual and Tune-In with Your Customers

By Niklas Thorin

You've spent a lot of time and resources developing a comprehensive user manual, catering to every thinkable question a user might have about your product. So whywhy, you may ask, are my customers calling my support department again and again, seeking answers to simple questions that have already been addressed?

 

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Excosoft Info Tech Trends Skribenta
category author

The NS Loop: A Story of Rediscovery

By Befrin Showani

When I joined Excosoft in 2006, no one had told me about the NS Loop function. It had kind of been forgotten at Excosoft, or at least buried at the bottom of the toolbox. I happen to have a passion for reuse, and enjoy scouring the archives of technical documentation for those lesser known tools which can be reapplied to new challenges. The NS Loop was one of those rediscovered tools, and this is what I learned about it:

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Excosoft Information Design Skribenta