Operation Cleanup: CSS refactoring for InfoDevs

Hey, fellow writers who work in MadCap Flare! Have you ever opened your CSS style sheet in a text editor and checked if it contains conflicting entries, style duplicates, or empty style definitions? Maybe there are unnecessary repetitions of a property assigned to child elements, but this property is already assigned to a parent element? (I had this problem with fonts and colors).

Being unsure of what is going on with your CSS, you might be surprised to find that, for example, after you changed one property, half of your document inexplicably changed its color or indentation level. And there you are wasting time trying to apply a quick fix that most probably breaks something else. It is only then that you finally realize that the CSS refactoring time has come. Continue reading

Book review: Logic made easy. How to know when language deceives you?

Logical thinking is high on the list of qualities expected from any Information Developer. But what exactly is “being logical”? If my writing is seemingly clear and makes sense to anyone who reviewed it, am I thinking logically? My layman’s definition of “logical” used to be “making sense”, but recently the book Logic made easy has come my way and added a lot to my understanding. Continue reading


Color theory: the mystery unveiled

Today I want to share with you a brilliant post covering all the basics that an Information Developer should know about how colors work, brought to you by Dave Gash, a Technical Writer at Google.

In a nutshell, it’s a great read—both fun and educational—that explains how colors work. It’s all there – physics, optics, additive and subtractive color systems, hexadecimal arithmetic (!) and, most importantly, demonstration of how it all works together in real life (I mean, in a real-life CSS).

Believe it or not, CSS color codes really are intuitive. You’ll be surprised to see how obvious it is that “#000000 can’t be anything but black“, and “#ff0000 cannot possibly be anything but bright red“. On top of that, there’s a quiz, real-life CSS examples, and links to useful resources and tools, which all adds immensely to the post’s educational value.

Thanks to the author for gathering all this information and presenting it in such a fun and easy way! That’s rock’n’roll, folks.

View at Medium.com

Book review: “The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything… Fast”

In the ever-changing work environment, Information Developers must constantly acquire new skills to stay professionally relevant. I assume that we all have our learning strategies and strive for perfection. As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect”. But how often do we give up the mere idea of learning just because we remember the popular theory of 10.000 hours of practice that inevitably separates us form perfection?

Today I would like to share my impression of the book “The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything… Fast” by Josh Kaufman, one of the world’s top 100 business authors. In his book, Kaufman explains that quick acquisition of any practical skill is possible within just 20 hours – or even less. The book, first published in 2013, became a bestseller right away. Since then, the idea that quick learning is possible keeps making a significant shift in the minds of aspiring learners. Continue reading

interviewing SME

Interviewing SMEs: Prepare, Talk, and Troubleshoot

Interviewing subject matter experts (SMEs) is one of the key soft skills that an Information Developer should possess. Our job is to get the technical input and turn it into a clear and usable output: decide on what is crucial and what is irrelevant, structure the information, and illustrate it with examples or graphics. Still, the much-needed input resides in the minds of the SMEs, and we need to act wisely to retrieve it—in other words, to master the art of interviewing.

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Book review: Be a better writer. Tips to improve your writing – no matter what you write!

As Information Developers, we need to perfect the skill of writing well, and the scope of our writing is not limited only by creating technical instructions. We should be equally good at creating web content, articles, or blog posts. Besides, one day we might even need to write some sort of a document that we have never dealt with before, for example, a business report or promo brochure. In this situation, we can spend hours googling and processing tons of contradictory or ill-structured information. Or, get our hands on the book “Be a better writer. Tips to improve your writing – no matter what you write!” by Suzanne Lieurance, saving us time and giving us quick directions.

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Technical Accuracy: Who Does the Testing?

Technical documentation is an integral part of a software product and must be regarded as such. We all know what happens after a software feature has been developed: it goes through a code review, and then it is thoroughly tested by a QA team. Before each release, the entire application undergoes multiple tests.

Technical documentation goes through a similar process: with each update, it passes several rounds of reviews. However, what about testing software documentation as a finished product? Among various roles in a project team, who is responsible for doing that?

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8 Things TechComm Has Changed in Me

Recently, I came across a post on Reddit that was named “How a career in technical communication has ruined me as a letter writer”.  It was a fun story about the way the TechComm best practices eventually changed the topic starter’s behavior in private life. In comments, people of other professions shared similar experiences. It was amazing how, even after decades, work skills still largely influenced the people’s actions, in that particular case—their writing style. It was both fun and true, but more importantly, this text made me wonder if my work has triggered any changes in my behavior outside the office walls.

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