InterChange 2020 Sessions

Ed Marsh

Timeless TechComm Tips

It’s a new world. But as keynote speaker Ed Marsh will tell you, there are timeless tips for you, as a technical communicator, to add value to your organization, even from a distance.

Bernard Aschwanden

10 Ways DITA Can Help Drive a Unified Content Strategy

Prior to DITA, there wasn’t much we could do when it came to strategizing with the rest of the enterprise and pooling our tools, processes, and content. That’s no longer the case; we see more and more DITA adoption from many expected and unexpected divisions, from Training and Support to Academic Publishers, Operations and Insurance.

A unified, DITA-driven, enterprise-wide approach to content can have a profound impact on the enterprise. When content created by the enterprise is treated as a valued and valuable corporate asset, it’s a win-win-win situation. It’s more efficient for the enterprise. It’s easier for content creators. And end users win when they reap the real benefit by getting the content they need when they need it, how they need it, and where they need it, in the format they want.

In this webinar, Bernard Aschwanden will take you through 10 ways in which DITA can help drive unified content strategy.

Velizar Demirev

How to Extract Content from Outdated Systems and Future-proof Your Content With DITA

Moving to DITA provides a wide range of benefits, one of which is the ability to future-proof your content. By creating structured content at a granular level, you are building a flexible content publishing and integration platform. As appealing as that sounds, most of us don’t have the option to walk away from our past systems and investments in our content. This presentation will focus on how to extract content from your outdated systems and what conversion method makes sense for you.

Audience takeaways: Attendees will learn:

  • The benefits of structured authoring in DITA
  • The content conversion process
  • Three methods of content conversion and considerations for each
  • Preparing for content conversion

Viqui Dill

Running with the bulls: How I project managed the project managers and lived to tell about it

My company has a vision for better project management. We have a great record of accomplishment, delivering projects with high quality and within budget, but we often find ourselves challenged to deliver on time. To accomplish the vision, the Project Management Oversight Team was formed to evangelize project management principles and support project managers. This effort included the development of a curriculum of training materials so that our project managers would have a common vocabulary and understanding of processes and tools to have success with projects company-wide. Come hear about our journey and the lessons we learned along the way.

Session takeaways:

  • Don’t be in a hurry to start, be in a hurry to finish
  • Get lots of feedback
  • Overcommunicate

Stanley Doherty

Getting Started with DevOps Doc-as-Code

Why do technical publications groups develop, manage, and deploy documentation apart from product source code? Is it necessary for technical communicators to be working in expensive proprietary or complicated authoring environments that no one else in product development can understand, let alone use? If there are no benefits to integrating documentation with DevOps processes and tooling, why have prominent cloud development companies adopted doc-as-code:

  • IBM Cloud (
  • Microsoft Azure (
  • Google Cloud Platform (
  • OpenStack (

Be certain. If you are not asking these questions, someone else in your organization probably is.

The first step toward understanding whether your organization should adopt doc-as-code involves gaining some experience with it:

  • Reading the current literature
  • Installing the current authoring and deployment tools
  • Testing your content in this environment
  • Soliciting feedback from your peer development and support organizations

To assist you in your journey, Stan will focus on the hands-on components, specifically how you get started with some doc-as-code tools and migrate sample content into it.

Liz Fraley

How to Identify DITA Topic Types (like a ninja)

When you’re new to DITA everything seems hard. Even choosing a topic type. New writers lean away from the specialized toward the generic. Teams get inconsistent structures for similar information across deliverables. In this session, Liz Fraley will show you one strategy for identifying topics—in legacy content and for new content going forward—while unifying your authors so everyone works better together.

Patty Gale

What is Content Strategy?

Technical writer, information architect, now content strategist? What is this Content Strategy thing? Does our team need a Content Strategist? How is it relevant to me? Do I need to worry about it? Or is it just the next fad?

Come learn what Content Strategy is and how it can benefit your organization. Learn about the skills required for Content Strategy. (Hint: You may already be doing some or all of it!) Then participate in a discussion of how Content Strategy is handled differently across organizations, and what this might mean for you.

Liz Herman

Advancing your Technical Communication Career

Do you love technical communication but feel somewhat stuck? Join me to hear about some easy ways to rethink your technical communication career and add some excitement to your 2020 opportunities.

Neil Perlin

Contextualizing Our Content – Today and Tomorrow

Technical communicators have done contextualization for years. Context-sensitive help has been with us since the mid-1990s and responsive design since 2004; both are integrated into today’s authoring tools. But the growth of mobile documentation is creating new models for contextualization. This presentation reviews those models and discusses where contextualization may be going and what you should know about it.

The presentation first reviews traditional context-sensitive help and the code that drives it – the header and alias files – and responsive design and responsive layout and the code that drives it – mainly the CSS file. We’ll then turn to new forms like geographic, chronological, spatial, environmental, personal, and others. These models aren’t new – mobile apps have used them for years – but they are new to tech comm. We’ll look at use cases, emerging implementation procedures and the code, and emerging GUI tools. You’ll leave this presentation with a good feel for where “context” is headed.

Takeaways include the following:

  • Briefly review the code behind context-sensitive help and responsive design and layout as the basis for the advanced discussion.
  • Review different types of advanced contextualization, their use cases, and, as much as possible, their raw code and implementation.
  • Review, as much as possible, emerging GUI tools that support these contextualization types in order to reduce the coding burden on technical communicators in the future.

Brett Peruzzi

Lessons Learned From the First Year of Being a Consultant in the 21st Century

Being an independent consultant has long been a career option for technical communicators. But twenty-first century technologies have introduced some new twists to the process. This session will provide you with an overview of the steps to set up your own consulting business, how you can use the latest technologies to be successful, and what you are likely to encounter in that critical first year.

Lou Prosperi

Tell Your Story the Walt Disney World Way: Adding Disney Imagineering to Your Technical Communication Toolbox

Since the opening of Disneyland in 1955, Disney’s Imagineers have been entertaining audiences of all ages at Disney parks around the world by bringing stories to life through immersive and engaging experiences.

From 1955 through today, storytelling has been at the heart of everything the Imagineers do, and the key to the Imagineers’ storytelling is effective communication.

What does that have to do with technical communication? More than you might think!

This presentation explores a number of Imagineering Storytelling tools – practices and principles used by Walt Disney Imagineering in the design and construction of Disney parks and attractions – and how those same tools can be applied to technical communication and information development to help us effectively communicate with our audiences.

Matt Reiner

Wiki Wiki What? Create Powerful Technical Documentation in Confluence

Writing documentation within an agile team is tricky, and using a wiki for content authoring can become a total mess. Luckily, documentation written in a wiki can be a powerhouse rather than a house fire. As with any other tool and process for creating documentation as a team, there’s a right way to do it and some wrong ways you can easily avoid.

In this talk, I’ll explore how proven tech writing techniques like content reuse, conditional content, versioning, translation, and publishing can be done collaboratively in Confluence wiki.

We’ll also talk about interacting with multiple stakeholders, both inside and outside your team, in an agile way to expedite your documentation creation and delivery.

Deborah Sauer

Creating Mobile-Friendly Content

We all look at mobile devices a lot, so we know there’s a huge audience consuming content on small screens, whether it’s an app or mobile site. You may want to make your information available there, too, or maybe you’re writing for a mobile app. But simply moving existing text to a mobile device isn’t going to cut it. Many traditional writing practices translate well to writing for mobile devices, but there are some key differences and several additional considerations. We’ll take a look at:

  • Screen real estate—how people read content on mobile devices
  • Text elements—defining where the copy appears
  • Writing conventions—creating copy that’s both people friendly and mobile friendly
  • Chunking—it’s the same, but different
  • Images—why pictures are still important
  • Limitations—working around them
  • Localization—accounting for text expansion
  • Common mistakes—and how to avoid them