ISTC Webinar: Stories of structured authoring tools

Greetings to all technical writers, and to everyone interested in technical communication!

ISTC Webinar

I have agreed to fill-in for a slot at the "ISTC Meets" webinars. You may know that ISTC is the sister society to APCOMTEC in the UK, and I joined the ISTC Council last year.

I decided to recover and update part of a mythical 3-hour class I delivered at ISCTE in 2015, focusing on my experience in using different tools in specific scenarios.

Joaquim Baptista will share his professional experience with structured writing tools since 1996, in the context of small writing teams in need of sophisticated tools:

  • LaTeX and LinuxDoc SGML for a University job (1996-1998), the learning opportunities that paved the way for what came next.
  • Custom XML and DITA XML for Altitude Software (2000-2014), including the generation of DITA topics, localization, and training materials.
  • DITA and Open API for Farfetch (2017-2024), including automated modular builds, two developer websites, and the curation at scale of references written by developers.

This session is suitable for anyone interested in structured content and the tooling that supports it.

Better ISCAP

Technical Writers at Lisbon has been dormant. One of the reason is that we have been busy revising the Post-Graduate Course at ISCAP for 2023/2024, which now features the following modules:

  1. Terminology Management, by Alexandra Albuquerque, PhD, ISCAP (Nov).
  2. Information Gathering, by Ana Remígio, Bosch Security Systems (Dec).
  3. Domain Models, Joaquim Baptista, ex-Farfetch (Dec).
  4. Technical Communication I, João Ribeiro, Synopsys (Jan).
  5. Technical Communication Tools, Bruno Santos, Synopsys (Jan).
  6. Simplified Technical English, Ana Remígio, Bosch Security Systems (Mar).
  7. Structured Writing, Joaquim Baptista, ex-Farfetch (Mar).
  8. Translation Project Management for TW, Alexandra Albuquerque, PhD, ISCAP (Mar).
  9. Technical Communication II, João Ribeiro, Synopsys (Apr).
  10. Editing and Proofreading, Joana Fernandes, PhD, ISCAP (May).
  11. Documentation of REST APIs, Joaquim Baptista, ex-Farfetch (May).
  12. Docs as Code, Jaime Vasconcelos, Probely (Jun).
  13. Introduction to Technical Writing Project Management, Bruno Santos, Synopsys (Jun).

The ISTC InfoPlus newsletter from November 2003 has a good summary of all modules: (search the long page for Porto).

Note that we have overcome the previous translation-heavy compromise that was a critical factor in launching the course. I nudge you to encourage people to:

  • Enroll in the course, for new and prospective technical writers.
  • Enroll in individual modules, for current technical writers.

For the modules remaining in 2023/2024, prices go from €125 to €208. Participants will join a dozen other students for joint practice and expert feedback.

Drinks, anyone?

You may know that the Technical Writers @ Lisbon drew inspiration from the processes of an STC Chapter. That Chapter would alternate between “formal meetings”, with an announced presentation, and “informal meetings” where people just met and mingled. While our informal meetings had always fewer attendees than presentations, they served to build trust and explore opportunities. Perhaps now is the time to bring these back?

Let’s check: please email if you are interested in face-to-face or virtual get-togethers on a semi-regular basis.

All the best for you,

— Joaquim Baptista, APCOMTEC, ISTC, EuroSIGDOC

PS: You are welcome to encourage yourself to enroll in individual modules at ISCAP. I am quite proud of the course.

PPS: You may have noticed the ex-Farfetch bits above. I left Farfetch on 22-Feb, together with hundreds of bright people, after 7 years. I do not regret anything, and I am actively looking for the next 7-year challenge.