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UA Europe Conference, 9-10 June, Budapest, Hungary

The Conference for
Software User Assistance
Professionals

in association with:

WritersUA logo

UA Europe Conference, 9-10 June, Budapest, Hungary

Conference Sessions confirmed to date

All conference sessions and workshops are presented in English.

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Concise Writing for Mobile User Assistance

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Joe Welinske (WritersUA)

Writing concisely is one of the fundamental skills central to any mobile user assistance. The minimal screen real estate can’t support large amounts of text and graphics without extensive gesturing by the users. Using small font sizes just makes the information unreadable unless the user pinches and stretches the text.

Even outside of the mobile space, your ability to streamline your content improves the likelihood it will be consumed effectively by your target audience.

This session offers a number of examples and techniques for reducing the footprint of your prose while maintaining a quality message. The examples used are in the context of mobile UA but can be applied to any technical writing situation.

You will learn:

  • How research shows the problems with overly complex text in small-screen and mobile environments
  • How Simplified Technical English and Plain English can improve your writing
  • How aggressive redesign of traditional writing styles can significantly reduce word count and improve readability

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How to Position UA within UX

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Joe Welinske (WritersUA)

User assistance (UA) continues to be an important element in software development. However, many of the activities traditionally performed by a person with a technical communication background are increasingly being absorbed into User Experience. In some respects, this is limited to a rebranding of skills to match evolving design philosophies. In other respects, design philosophies have evolved an expectation of very different skill sets to accomplish UA.

This session provide a brief overview of the world of User Experience (UX), describes the areas where user assistance plays an important role, and offers a discussion of what that means for today’s UA professionals as we move forward.

You will learn:

  • How the field of UX defines itself and its status in software development
  • How user assistance is viewed from the point of view of the UX field
  • What UA professionals can do to best develop their skills and market themselves within the UX field

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Seven Lessons We Can Learn from Google’s User Assistance

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Matthew Ellison (UA Europe)

Google is one of the most successful software companies of all time, providing a broad array of web-based applications and cloud-based services. The company clearly takes seriously the user experience for all of its products and employs a range of innovative and well-crafted techniques to guide and support its users. These include UI overlays, embedded tips, FAQs, and context-sensitive Help. This session provides a survey of these solutions and picks out some of the most effective and successful techniques that you can emulate in your own user assistance.

You will learn:

  • The key features of successful and effective user assistance
  • How Google makes UA a key component of the UX
  • A range of techniques for making your own user assistance more helpful
  • How you can raise your users' awareness of new or changed features

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Introducing CSS Flexbox Layout

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Matthew Ellison (UA Europe)

This session provides a high–level introduction to the Flexbox Layout (Flexible Box) module, a W3C Last Call Working Draft, which aims to provide a more efficient way to lay out, align, and distribute space among items in a container. Flexbox offers a much more powerful way of positioning elements using standard CSS, without having to rely on the limited properties in the current CSS Recommendation. During the session, Matthew explains the most important CSS properties, and demonstrates how flexible web pages can be coded simply and elegantly using Flexbox techniques. With flexible design for a range of different screen sizes becoming increasingly important, Flexbox is an exciting new technology that all technical communicators should be familiar with.

You will learn:

  • What Flexbox is, and why it is significant technology for technical communicators
  • How Flexbox can simplify your code and make your content work better on a range of different screen sizes and devices
  • How to write a simple piece of FlexBox code
  • Where to find out more about this important new technology

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Relationships and Linking: Beyond Hyperlinks

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Dr Tony Self (HyperWrite)

Hyperlinks are a simple idea. As an author, you highlight text in a topic and associate it with another topic. For large information sets, and for single-sourced publications, hyperlinks become hard to manage. After a while, links become broken, or irrelevant, and are hard to troubleshoot. From a user's perspective, links can sometimes cause, rather than alleviate, confusion. There are techniques to overcome these authoring and reading pitfalls, and in this session, we will explore structured links, indirect links, and relationship tables. The techniques will be demonstrated in a DITA authoring tool (<oXygen/>) and in MadCap Flare.

You will learn:

  • What problems are associated with maintaining and using direct inline hyperlinks
  • The concept of indirect linking
  • How MadCap Flare supports automatic generation of structured links
  • The concept of relationship tables
  • How relationship tables are defined in MadCap Flare
  • The concept of separation of content and context
  • How relationship tables are implemented in DITA

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MadCap Flare Under the Bonnet

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Dr Tony Self (HyperWrite)

In this presentation, we will metaphorically look "under the hood" (or "bonnet") of MadCap Flare. All of Flare's project settings and configurations are stored in XML files. And "all" means everything: targets, glossaries, master pages, conditional text, variables, etc. This provides the opportunity for some behind-the-scenes engineering of Flare projects, particularly during migration of content into Flare. For example, a Word document containing a glossary of terms in a table can be reworked into Flare's glossary XML format with a series of search and replaces. Understanding the underlying XML structure can help unlock the potential for big time (and stress) savings, particularly for large projects.

You will learn:

  • How Flare projects are organised into files
  • The basics of XML documents
  • That all Flare project documents, configurations and settings are XML files
  • How to edit simple XML files in a free text editor
  • How to leverage the XML structure of Flare projects to simplify tedious tasks

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Workshop: Don't Write Help Until You Analyse Content!

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Leah Guren (Cow TC)

This hands-on workshop is all about analysing content and making better decisions before starting to write. You'll discuss and practise a range of techniques for focussing on the key content that helps your users to get to their goals. The workshop also helps you to recognise and eliminate superfluous content that potentially distracts users and makes your User Assistance more difficult and time-consuming to maintain. There will be writing/editing exercises and opportunities for discussion and reflection. The techniques covered are independent of any authoring tool and work well with any type of User Assistance content. You'll take away from the session a set of new tips and ideas for editing content that will be invaluable for new authors and a useful refresher for more experience technical communicators.

You will learn:

  • How to perform a content audit and prioritise content
  • How to decide the best way to use the information that is needed
  • How to help users to get to their goals
  • How to find creative solutions to dense content

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Moving UA into the Cloud and Bringing the People Along

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Ronit Mayer (SAP)

SAP strategy is focusing on the Cloud. In order to support our strategy, UA needs to adapt and evolve in kind. A change management project began in 2015 to support the UA organization across SAP. This project focused on identifying gaps based on observable industry trends, as well as, strengthening and enabling our talent. In 2016, our focus will dig even deeper into what we need in order to reach our goals. The UA vision is on its way to fruition. We would like to share with you our experiences, challenges and best practices from this adventure.

You will learn:

  • About the User Assistance transformation that is taking place in SAP
  • Why this transformation is imperative and what activities are happening around the change
  • How the transformation affects UA staff from skills to deliverables
  • About the challenges we still face as we look into the future

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CSS Colours Demystified

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Dave Gash (HyperTrain)

Virtually every technical writer and online author encounters CSS hex colours like #FFFFD0, #008080, or #4DB84A at some point. But how many of us really understand them? This fun and informative session explores the science behind optical colours, covers the hexadecimal numbering system used to describe them, and explains — finally! — exactly how to use those funny-looking codes to get exactly the colours you need. Want to go home smarter than most of your peers? Don't miss this session!

You will learn:

  • The physics differences between pigments and optics
  • Why hexadecimal is perfect for coding colour values
  • How to combine colour values to get specific colours
  • How to use hex colours efficiently in CSS

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Up with Markdown!

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Dave Gash (HyperTrain)

Technical writers are often asked to quickly produce small sections of content for various media. Instead of using large and complex authoring tools for quick authoring tasks, you can harness the power of simplified-notation markdown to quickly and easily produce content chunks that can be exported as HTML and integrated into virtually any parent document. It's fast, easy, and even kind of fun!

You will learn:

  • What markdown really is
  • How simplified syntax works
  • Which tools are available
  • How markdown can help you to be more productive

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DocOps: User Documentation Coming Full Circle with Agile

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Vincent McCaffrey (CA Technologies)

The introduction of Agile development methodologies has been a game changer for tech writers. It has become necessary to adapt the approach to tech writing to accommodate this changed environment; especially the increased velocity of development and releases that comes with it. At the same time, Agile has created many new opportunities which allow increasing the quality and value user documentation can bring.

A focus point of DocOps is to leverage these opportunities that come with Agile, but DocOps is not limited to them as will be shown. A further main point of emphasis is that DocOps is not about tools. While tools are important as enablers, they are not at the center of the DocOps strategy, which is more about the mindset and content strategy in general, one of the main points being the creation of a collaborative content creation environment which is not limited to tech writers.

You will learn:

  • How Agile can positively influence the way tech writers work
  • How to leverage this influence by employing the DocOps approach
  • What advantages DocOps brings beyond the scope of Agile
  • What the challenges of implementing DocOps are

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Building a Closer Relationship with Support

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Sarah Chambers (Kayako)

Do you know what the support agents are doing over in their corner? It’s not all cat gifs and angry users. There’s real value to be found in working together with your support team. They are a direct line to your users! It can definitely be difficult to bridge this gap between disciplines, but your goals are 100% the same: help the customer do The Thing. Because support literally spends all day talking to customers, they have a ton of amazing data about the effectiveness of documentation, and the tasks customers are trying to accomplish.

Building a better relationship with your support team will help you build a better relationship with your users. I’ve seen first hand how coordination drives a well executed user experience all the way from self service to hands-on support. Work together better and see tangible results in your user happiness!

You will learn:

  • The value of having support and technical writing aligned
  • How to break down the silos between teams and work effectively together
  • How to access and use the glorious data that support is already collecting
  • The metrics that matter for support-led user assistance

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Don't Lose it, Re-use it: Working with Legacy Content

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Adam Sanyo

If you work in field of technical writing long enough, you will experience how it feels when a company decides to introduce a new writing tool or structured authoring, for example, by adopting DITA. Making the initial transition can be a real struggle. For writers, the struggle starts when they need to learn the tool, the new tagging, and continues when the old content needs to be imported into the new system. Revisiting legacy content is never easy, but you can prepare for the task with a good plan to make your life easier. My presentation will cover different types of decisions that companies must make when they rework their legacy content.

You will learn:

  • How to separate different topic types quickly
  • How to find the right people for the given tasks
  • How to transfer to writers the skills that they need
  • What are the financial considerations of a rework exercise

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Forget Manuals, Publish Dynamically!

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Ulrike Parson (parson AG)

The traditional approach of publishing documentation as manual or online help that covers one target group, one purpose, and one specific product variant cannot cope with the new challenges on technical communication. These challenges arise with the "Internet of Things". With the growing digitalization, content needs to be delivered dynamically, according to the usage scenario and user context.

The technical information of the future needs to be modular and enriched with metadata so that smart applications can use it appropriate to the context. Technical writers have long since worked with metadata, but mostly for filtering content and controlling publication. But many of us still think of documentation as manuals. We need to leave this confinement and turn technical documentation into bits of knowledge that are delivered to the users dynamically. The session presents the requirements that technical documentation needs to fulfil for dynamic publishing and gives an overview of current technical solutions for content delivery.

You will learn:

  • What content delivery means
  • The importance of metadata and topic-based authoring
  • How to classify content for dynamic delivery
  • Which technical solution you can use to deliver content

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Writing for the Internet of Things

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Pawel Kowaluk (3di Poland)

The "Internet of Things" is the next big... thing. But what is it exactly and how does it influence technical writing? In this presentation I will describe how separating content from presentation is more critical than ever before. In addition to user roles, we have to think carefully about the context of the information we provide, and the line between assistance and marketing becomes blurry.

You will learn:

  • What Internet of Things means
  • What kind of content is associated with it
  • How to write that content
  • What skills are needed and what team members you will need

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Things We Learned from Developers

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Anikó Sebestyén and Róbert Fekete (BalaBit)

Collaborating with developers is key to creating outstanding user assistance. Technical communicators can always teach a thing or two to developers in terms of usability and user assistance. However, we can also learn from developers. Striving to keep up with product changes in an Agile environment, it becomes a necessity to continuously release updates to all user assistance content.

Why not tap into the knowledge that is already available in the company? How can technical writers use the techniques and tools that developers commonly use in Agile development environments? A case study from the technical writers at Balabit.

You will learn:

  • How to manage your document configurations and improve delivery processes using development version control systems
  • How to use continuous integration (CI) tools to automatically build, test, and release your docs
  • How to run automatic tests to check your documents for errors
  • How to flexibly enforce terminology, language, and style-related rules and be consistent with the software

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Text and Multimedia: a successful symbiosis in UA

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Dr Axel Luther (SAP SE)

Classical text-based software documentation is losing its relevance and attractiveness to today's new generation of users. Multimedia elements help to provide an overall UA portfolio that is easy to use, easy to remember, modern and appreciated by the target group. Within SAP, we made the shift from a classical text-based Knowledge Management organization to User Assistance organization that produces all kinds of media as well as UA tools and features. This presentation includes demonstrations of various video formats, such as Inspirational Videos, What’s New videos and How To videos.

You will learn:

  • Why the game has changed
  • How multimedia has become an important additional feature in the UA of SAP software products
  • About future multimedia formats and features that SAP plans to incorporate in its UA
  • Insights on the change management to establish these new concepts within a large team of content developers

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The Innovation Game: fostering innovation in an Agile team

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Audrey Christophory

Innovation is the Holy Grail of business. The CEO may dream of being the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, but that is not enough to make innovation happen. This session will present a gaming model that was developed to foster a culture of innovation in a large software development team. Audrey will cover the different streams of research that contributed to the model and how it evolved.

The focus will be on practical, reusable methods that can be adapted and applied to any environment.

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Great Content and SEO: a match made in Mountain View

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Willam van Weelden (WvanWeelden Consultancy)

There is so much content on the Web that the greatest challenge is enabling users to find the content that you produce. If your content is not in the top 3 Google results, you are not being found. Being found means creating content that does make the top 3. In other words: Search Engine Optimisation or SEO.

You will learn:

  • How SEO helps you reach your goals
  • The difference between findability and searchability
  • The different components of findable content
  • How to structure content for optimal findability

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Designing Effective Troubleshooting: lessons we can learn from DITA 1.3

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Marie-Louise Flacke (Awel-A-Ben)

Users spend 25% of their time dealing with errors, and rarely choose to access user assistance unless they are in trouble (trying to recover from error). Despite these two facts, 33% of user documentation gives no error support at all. As technical commication professionals, we should be helping users recover from their mistakes by providing clear troubleshooting information based on error detection, diagnosis, and correction. DITA 1.3 provides a useful model and offers three solutions that enable you to address any troubleshooting situation. Because it is strongly modular, the DITA troubleshooting topic is usable for either "Agile" or "Continuous development" projects and can also be adapted to the "Internet of Things" by using the "minimalistic" troubleshooting structure. This presentation outlines the benefits of the DITA approach to troubleshooting and describes how the same approach can be used in non-DITA projects.

You will learn:

  • Why troubleshooting information is so important
  • About the three basic steps of troubleshooting
  • About the three troubleshooting categories offered by DITA 1.3
  • How DITA 1.3 helps structure a troubleshooting section that adapts to all requirements
  • How you can apply the lessons learned from DITA to non-DITA projects

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Had I Known Then What I Know Now...

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Leah Guren (Cow TC)

Lean Guren closes the conference with a light-hearted reflection back on her 35 years in technical communication and highlights some of the key lessons that she has learned along the way.

 

 

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