Developing for the unknown lavacon

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Describes the philosophical, programming, methodology, and business standards needed to keep technical communication current in an increasingly technical era.


  • 1. Developing forthe UnknownFuture-Proofing Our Workand Jobs, and Introducing

2. Who Am I? Neil Perlin - Hyper/Word Services. Internationally recognized content consultant. Help clients create effective, efficient, flexiblecontent in anything from hard-copy to mobile. STCs lead W3C rep 02 05. Certified Flare, Mimic, Viziapps, RoboHelpin process of renewal. 3. The Problem In the past, technical change was unexpected. Today, we know its coming, just not the details. Content must be efficiently extensible, including to changes that dont yet exist or are dissimilar. This means we can no longer: Violate syntax and hack code to be cool. Exploit tool peculiarities to take shortcuts. Not understand the future. 4. The Solution Considerthe future, even if unknown. By setting and following standards for: Philosophy. Programming. Methodologies and procedures. Strategic business support. 5. Philosophy 6. Philosophy Rememberour main competitor Think web, web-side access, multi-device, SEO. Local formats fading in a web-oriented world. Think open source, standards compliance. Keep up. 7. Programming 8. In General Automateeverything possible. But never fully trust an automated process. Follow standards and best practices. Use tools properly for future compatibility. Learn about your outputs, tools, technologies. Use styles and style sheets for anything you can. 9. CSS Recommendations KISS and document it, esp any unusual features. Dont assume your successors will understand them. Use CSSs for char styles as well as paras, other. Supported by Flare, RH, others To avoid localformatting, hidetext formattingtoolbar and usestyle pod/pane. 10. CSS (contd) Give custom styles unambiguous names. Review CSSs often to eliminate barnacles. Like H1, head1, and heading1 styles. Dont use multiple CSSs on the same topics elegant but potentially confusing. Validate CSSs for adherence to W3C syntax. Try 11. Validation Example For example, this page: 12. Validation Example Gives this result from the Jigsaw validator thequestion is whether these errors matter. 13. CSS (contd) Checkthe browsers your apps use and see what CSS settings they support correctly. 14. CSS (contd) Switchfrom absolute to relative style size units. Vital for extensible single sourcing. %, Ems, Exes vs. points. % and Ems resizable by browsers, Exes resizablebut not well supported, points not resizable. 15. Why Relative Sizes? Imageat absolute width ina too-narrow space. Note horiz. scroll bar. Relative width in same space. No horiz. scroll bar, width of50% makes browser showimage at 50% of availablespace e.g. relative. In effect, each browser doesthe formatting for you. 16. Media Types/MediumsA feature of the W3Cs CSS2 standard. See Called mediums in Flare. To define alternate style settings for differentoutputs within one CSS easier maintenance. Consider using media types if you single sourceto multiple outputs. Extended in CSS3 to media queries that driveadaptive content. And for HTML5, the basis for hybrid apps, more. 17. Local/Inline Hard to update effectively. Hard to import to new formats. To eliminate, you may have to: Look for local formatting in the first topic. View that formatting code. Replace the local formattingcode with a CSS style in allyour topics in code view. Repeat 18. Table Styles Ifyour authoring tool allows, create and useCSSs for tables instead of local formatting. A table CSS is a standard CSS focused on tablestyles, so a regular CSS works too. A table style editor just makes it easier to visually integrate all the table elements. 19. Topic Templates Definetopic templates to control: Structure of material for each type of topic. Boilerplate content for each type of topic. Applythe CSS to all templates to automaticallygive topics the structure plus the styles. Moves you toward structured authoring even if you dont use DITA. Start by defining your information types. 20. Define Information Types Identifythe types of content you create and putthem in a few standard categories. Concept, task description, reference, process, show- me, troubleshooting, etc. Try to fit all content into