Tc dojo presentation writing mobile documentation

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Information about Tc dojo presentation writing mobile documentation

Published on March 4, 2014

Author: NeilPerlin



Discusses whether content to be viewed on mobile devices has to be cut, rewritten, or both in order to be most useful. My March 3, 2014 presentation for TC Dojo.

Writing for Mobile Rewrite? Cut?

Who Am I?  Neil Perlin - Hyper/Word Services. – Internationally recognized content creation and delivery consultant. – Help clients create effective, efficient, flexible content in anything from print to mobile. – Writing for online since 1986. – Working with mobile since Windows CE and WML/WAP c. 1998 – Certified – Viziapps, Flare, Mimic, RoboHelp.

The Issues  How should we write for mobile? – Rewrite our existing material? – Cut our existing material?  Question goes beyond “writing” alone due to technical side of today‟s tech comm. – A more complex version of the “no dumping” theme of the early „90s.  Must first define “mobile” in your context.

What is “Mobile”?

What is “Mobile”?  “Mobile” is essentially = the “undesktop” » Images from,

What Type of Mobile?  If apps, they‟re usually function-centric.  Differ from “normal” tech comm…

What Type of Mobile?  But some apps are contentcentric, effectively tech comm. – With a lot of text in this case.

What Type of Mobile?  What about this?

So Can We Write for Mobile?  Yes, depending on what mobile we mean. – A laptop is a PC. – A tablet is a small laptop without a keyboard, can show PC-type content in browser windows. – A smartphone is completely different.  And depending on whether we‟re talking about: – Web apps – browser-based. – Native/hybrid apps – platform-based or both.

A Design Fix For the Undesktop design – display-agnosticism.  For example, from RoboHelp 11.  Responsive

But Consider…  Cross-device/format/authoring tool issues: – Images may be too wide for phone screens. » Can size them relatively to fit available screen. » But are they still legible? » If not, can you conditionalize them out? » If you do, does that affect the content? » May call for greater granularity of content… » And need a CMS to deal with the greater # of content chunks even if traditional help did not. – Ditto tables.

More… – Consider SWFs. » Won‟t run on iOS – must be MP4 or HTML5. » Are text captions legible or must you replace them with audio = creating 2+ versions of each movie. » What happens to interactivity with no mouse? – Minimal table support in ebook formats. – “Invisible” problems of content in snippets. – And more…

Dealing With Text-Heaviness down text – not fat but real text – to the bare bones, such as:  Cut – – – – If 1, land. If 2, sea. Ride. Spread alarm. » With apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.

Dealing With Text-Heaviness  Have you reviewed your content lately for legacy content? – Mechanical, like how to use a mouse? – Domain knowledge, like accounting principles in accounting software? – Stuff that‟s just no longer applicable?  Can you delete content that may not apply to mobile but that may still be necessary?  If so, where do you put it? For example…

The Battle of the Sunda Straits  Created a multimedia project in „93 about a little-known naval battle from 1942. – Had 15 frames describing the action, with ~30 paragraphs of text. – Boiled down from 75 pages in Morrison‟s History of US Naval Operations in WW2. – No web in „93, so the cut 70+ pages were lost. – Can your cut material be made available if users need it?

Summary – Rewrite or Cut?  Both. – Cut to shorten the content and to account for technical limitations or requirements. » But make the content available if still important. – Rewrite the remainder to account for the cuts and to improve the writing in general.  We still want good writing, just less of it and more focused on the user‟s needs.

Hyper/Word Services Offers… Training • Consulting • Development  Flare • Flare CSS • Flare Single Sourcing  RoboHelp • RoboHelp CSS • RoboHelp HTML5  ViziApps  Single sourcing • Structured authoring

Thank you... Questions? 978-657-5464 Twitter: NeilEric

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