Delighting users by killing XML robots


The Force Awakens! Or in this case, my ongoing battle with DITA-XML awakens! In the 1st and 2nd episodes of my controversial “Killing XML” trilogy, I explored the rising external forces of social media and mobile apps. But in this 3rd episode, with the rise of socio-mobile, I’ll explore the rising internal forces of human voice and user delight, which are often choked by content cost and maintenance.

Recently, while catching up on old PDF issues of Intercom, the monthly magazine by STC, I found a February 2015 article that advocates this “delightful” approach for technical docs. In his article, Barry Grenon observes that technical writers “default to a formal style” that sounds robotic and encourages “remaining invisible”. By focusing on cost and maintenance, writers fail to engage or delight users.

STC Intercom: February 2015

STC Intercom: February 2015

Hi, my name is Jay, and I’m an IBM TRIRIGA information developer at IBM. Let me ask you this. If you’re anything like me, a seasoned technical writer with years of DITA-XML experience, how do you know if you’ve forgotten to “delight users”? Well, it’s easier to see it if you’re also a blogger. But if you’re not, do you notice yourself stripping away your unique voice or personality from your content?
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Rewriting the rules for TRIRIGA docs


Veni, vidi, vici! TRIRIGA, TRIRIGAFEEDIA, and TRIRIGA UX! But to start off, happy anniversary! Believe it or not, November 2015 not only witnessed the 2nd anniversary of my quiet “bright blue” tech blog at jay.manaloto.ibm, but also the 10th anniversary of my tech career at TRIRIGA. From the old TRIRIGA days of co-locating at the office to the global IBM days of telecommuting from home. Not a bad deal.

So why have I returned? To be honest, I was always going to return. But this year has been especially consuming, fascinating, and satisfying with my exploration of new TRIRIGA territories, namely TRIRIGAFEEDIA and TRIRIGA UX. With the former, if you remember, I created “an experimental WordPress hub that collects feeds”. With the latter, I recently dove into the world of Google Polymer.

TRIRIGA UX Article 1

TRIRIGA UX Article 1

Hi, my name is Jay, and I’m an IBM TRIRIGA information developer at IBM. I’ve always been pretty transparent about the origin of my TRIRIGAFEEDIA blog. But now that IBM has announced the releases of IBM TRIRIGA 10.5.0 and IBM TRIRIGA Application Platform 3.5.0 with its UX Framework, I can finally reveal the origin, design, and development of my TRIRIGA UX Articles. Wanna find out?
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Bouncing into responsive IBM design


Responsive web design! By now, if you’ve been casually following the social media activity across technical communication, content marketing, and content strategy, you’ll know that responsive web design (RWD) is one of the hotter trends and topics this year. In fact, if you recall, my first mention of RWD was back in July when I reviewed the IBM Service Engage portal. My review was rather mixed.

Since then, I began to wonder how other IBM and IBM-partner websites have tackled, or not yet tackled, RWD. After all, websites “that are designed to be swipe-friendly on a mobile browser might not necessarily be scroll-friendly on a desktop browser”. The exploration was enlightening. While some of you might applaud my praises, others might heckle my harsher criticisms. Just being honest.

IBM Design

IBM Design

Hi, my name is Jay, and I’m an IBM TRIRIGA information developer at IBM. With the eyes of a casual surfer, I’m going to sail through a handful of websites, and gently pull on them until they either fall apart or bounce back into place. Will IBM websites do well or poorly? Will IBM-partner websites do better or worse? Will RWD save websites from mobile-app domination? Let’s see what happens.
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Killing clunky PDF with mobile EPUB


A couple of weeks ago, a former colleague asked me for advice about embedding a video into a PDF file. She had tried MOV and MP4 video formats, so I suggested FLV format. But in each case, only the audio played, not the video. I’m not sure if she eventually resolved the issue, but I suspect it was related to her Adobe product versions. This episode led me to wonder about PDF files.

Specifically, why are we still stuck using the clunky PDF? First, in terms of being “trapped by this traditional paper-based expectation”, the PDF is looking more like a locked cage. Second, in terms of the “rapid evolution of social-media and socio-mobile technology”, the PDF is behaving more like an aging dinosaur. Not even a video-embedding PDF feature can slow the mobile EPUB momentum.

EPUB document on Moon+ Reader 2.4.1 mobile app

EPUB document on Moon+ Reader 2.4.1 mobile app

Hi, my name is Jay, and I’m an IBM TRIRIGA information developer at IBM. While there are probably countless comparisons between PDF and EPUB documents on the web, I’d like to highlight several articles that caught my eye. From there, I’ll toss my own two-cent thoughts on the troubling PDF-related issues that IBM might be facing, if not now, then soon, or sooner than we think.
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Burning XHTML bridges to WordPress


Three months ago, in a November post, I explored the “top 3 most-popular and most-reliable WordPress.org security plugins” at the time. Although some might blame the WordPress.org community for any security vulnerabilities, it is also the responsibility of the user to “actively maintain and update the software”. In other words, “your blog is only as strong as its weakest plugin”.

Later, in a December post and January post, I investigated the possible “downfall of topic-based XML authoring and topic-based information architecture” and the “growing impact of WordPress as an enterprise CMS and enterprise SaaS”.  If XML CMSs mean extinction, I also wondered whether “XML-oriented integrations… will forever be incompatible with PHP-based CMSs like WordPress.”

Madcap Flare: Topic XML view and text view

Madcap Flare: Topic XML view and text view

Hi, my name is Jay, and I’m an IBM TRIRIGA information developer at IBM. In my ongoing journey to explore topic-based DITA-XML authoring and its relationship to social-based WordPress strategies, I stumbled across a fascinating five-year-old solution that allows you to import your DITA-authored XHTML output into your WordPress.org installation.
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Killing XML and IA with social media


Back in October 2013, the IBM editor for my writing team forwarded her enlightening observation about the meteoric rise of mobile media and the potential fall of topic-based authoring. I hadn’t created this blog yet, but I knew that her thoughts might be the seed for an intriguing post someday. Over a month after creating my blog, I still didn’t know how to frame the subject. This is, until now.

With over 20 years of IBM experience, my editor wrote: “Highly technical information that’s delivered on YouTube is widely accepted by technical users… More and more, users will be accessing our products from mobile devices. To learn something new, would you rather watch a YouTube video on your mobile phone or read several topics in an information center?”

TRIRIGAPEDIA: Hosted by the MediaWiki-powered Wikia.com

TRIRIGAPEDIA: Hosted by the MediaWiki-powered Wikia.com

Hi, my name is Jay, and I’m an IBM TRIRIGA information developer at IBM. After publishing a dozen entries, I realized that my editor’s compact yet powerful observation overlaps my blog posts about dissecting DITA, breathing Oxygen XML, plugging into WordPress, searching Big Blue, and probably a few more. Do they collectively predict the downfall of topic-based XML authoring and topic-based information architecture? Let’s find out.
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Searching for the center of Big Blue


With over a century of history and nearly half a million employees at IBM, it shouldn’t be surprising that Big Blue boasts an ocean of products that span from the hardware horizon to the software horizon.

However, it might be more difficult to imagine the endless waves of maintaining and coordinating hundreds of websites and millions of webpages that support thousands of products and their evolving versions.

Big blue tidal wave

Big blue tidal wave

Hi, my name is Jay, and I’m an IBM TRIRIGA information developer at IBM. After producing several releases of IBM TRIRIGA user documentation over the last couple of years, our information development (ID) team, like hundreds of other ID teams, is planning to redirect its next delivery in 2014 from our retiring information centers to the new IBM Knowledge Center.
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