Lightning Strikes at the New England Chapter

The first program of the 2021–2022 season was a round of lightning tool tips offered by new and returning presenters.

Screenshot from October 2021 program featuring presenters (left to right) Mike Nelson, John Garison, Steven Jong, Steven Greffenius, and Jannetta Lamourt
October 2021 program presenters (left to right) Mike Nelson, John Garison, Steven Jong, Steven Greffenius, and Jannetta Lamourt

On 27 October 2021, STC New England offered as its first program of the season a virtual collection of lightning tool tips offered by veteran presenters Steven Jong, John Garison, Steven Greffenius, and Chapter President Mike Nelson as well as newcomer Jannetta Lamourt. During the program (rescheduled from last spring), each presenter took 10 to 15 minutes to offer tips on a range of publication tools.

Steve Jong, a Specialist Technical Writer at Hitachi Vantara, offered “one weird trick” for versioning graphics. His company’s environment DITA is RMS (formerly SDL) Publications Manager, Oxygen, and Snagit, but the principles of archiving art source files and versioning changes are valid in any environment. By retaining all versions of a graphic, unwanted changes can be backed out (but don’t tell the SMEs how easy it is).

John, a Lead Technical Content Strategist at Medidata, a Dassault Systèmes company, demonstrated how the company uses Atlassian Confluence and premium add-ons and extensions for internal documentation, as well as for all their end-user docs. John explained how everything worked to provide a full-serve application for documentation. It took some time to get used to the environment, John said, but now he loves it.

Janetta, CMO and CTO of Quantivpro, showed many uses for QR codes and how to generate them easily. QR codes are popping up in more and more places, including TV advertising, and offer “no-touch” accessibility. She described them as flexible, fast, and fun. Lamourt offered more than two dozen uses for QR codes and shared a URL for a site that generates them for free.

Steve Greffenius, principal at Puzzle Mountain Digital, showed tips to create topics in Madcap Flare. The tool is complex enough to offer multiple ways to accomplish tasks, and he compared conventional methods to create new topics as well as alternatives that saved time and effort.

Finally, Mike, Documentation and Training Manager at KVH Industries, showed how to use JavaScript to build dynamic PDF forms. Using sample names appropriately drawn from Stephen King novels, he dazzled the audience with form fields that calculated values, appeared or disappeared, or changed defaults depending on how they were filled in, and then went through the code that powered each field.


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