TC Camp

The Techcomm Unconference

Suggest and Vote on Unconference Topics

Help make TC Camp 2019 exactly what you want by suggesting and voting on unconference topics. The topics listed here will be available for "dot voting" on the day of the event. We're throwing out the old topics and starting fresh with new ones, but we need your help!

Remember to come back to this page the week before camp so you can make a final pass on topics that come in. You can always change your vote up until the day before the event!

What? You don't know what TC Camp is? Look here for the details!

Online voting ends 9:00pm Thursday evening!

Online voting/suggesting is no longer available!

Save up those ideas and write them down at camp on Saturday before the dot-voting begins. The topics below will be available for voting on Saturday.

Download the blank session proposal form and fill in the title and description for your proposed topic, then bring that to camp with you on Saturday. We will have these forms to fill out as well.

Currently proposed topics

  (20 votes)   [more]
Simplifying complexity is one of the core values tech writers add to a technology organization. But ... how exactly do you reduce the complexity of content? What techniques and tools do you employ? From navigation maps to plain language, step-by-step procedures to topic chunking, we employ a variety of techniques. But could we do something more, something truly innovative in order to master this skill? In this discussion group, we'll examine other ways to approach and simplify complex content.
  (18 votes)   [more]
Many of us will be coming from the API Documentation workshop the previous day. Let's have a session to discuss and share what we learned.
  (16 votes)   [more]
There's a lot of wash/rinse/repeat activities in the content creation and publication process. Are you automating those tasks?
  (15 votes)   [more]
"Friendly" is a buzzword that features heavily in requests from upper management, but what does it look like? What document and style components are friendly (or unfriendly)? Is friendliness compatible with strict avoidance of slang, idioms, and cultural references? What's the friendliest documentation you've ever used?
  (14 votes)   [more]
The DITA OT is an open-source tool. And it is an important one. It is used in all of the commercial DITA publishing tools that I am aware of.
However, it has a small group of people who develop and support it as opposed to many other open-source tools that have many people contributing to it.
Does this mean it is a dead-end tool that will shrink and fade with time?
Is it's use expanding or contracting in companies?
  (9 votes)   [more]
Content that should work as answers to chatbot questions. Is it different from structured authoring? What are some ways that the markup is done?
  (7 votes)   [more]
What are the best and worst companies to work for in the Bay area? Which companies pay the highest salaries? Which companies might have a strong brand but a terrible tech pubs department? Are there startups that are especially hot? Which companies do you want to avoid at all costs? In this discussion, participants will share their experiences and insights working for different companies in the Bay area, providing tips and advice for future employment.
  (7 votes)   [more]
The main types of output are PDF and HTML. Although some folks consider PDF passed its prime, most users still seem to prefer that format over even HTML5. Why? Is one format sometimes more appropriate than the other? Should we try to convince them to switch to HTML, or should we provide the most user friendly PDF possible?
  (7 votes)   [more]
Explore how writers are using it. If you are the sole writer, are you creating a new branch for each feature? How are multiple writers using it? Who merges the pull request?
  (6 votes)   [more]
  • Where do chatbots and techcomm intersect?
  • Is your company considering implementing a chatbot?
  • Have you seen/used chatbots "in the wild" and were they effective?
  (6 votes)   [more]
You have stakeholders, and they all want things. Different things. You can do some of things; you can't do others of those. Beyond the SME relationship, what can we do as technical writers to assert influence and complete big projects as heroes with happy stakeholders.
  (6 votes)   [more]
  • What are these libraries good for?
  • How are they implemented?
  • How complex are they to implement?
  • Success stories.
  (5 votes)   [more]
  • Commenting
  • Layout
  • Print formats
  • Collaboration
  (5 votes)   [more]
Attendees who are using tools like Swagger or Postman to help them document HTTP-based APIs can talk about their experiences. Those who are doing it by hand can hear the experiences of others.
  (4 votes)   [more]
Let's continue discussing some of the topics regarding communication best practices from the morning workshop.
  (4 votes)   [more]
How to freelance as Technical Writer in the Bay Area. Finding clients; customer pain points; How much to charge; Tips/advice, etc...
  (4 votes)   [more]
  • Are you allowed to talk to your users?
  • How do you know what you write is meeting their needs?
  • Have you found reliable, affordable solutions for getting constructive input from your audience?
  • When you have your users' attention, what are your key DOs and DON'Ts for interacting with them?
  (4 votes)   [more]
Let's continue discussing some of the topics regarding minimalism from the morning workshop.
  • How have you implemented a minimalist approach in your writing?
  • Describe some of the benefits you've seen from a minimalist approach.
  • Any down-sides to minimalism?
  (3 votes)   [more]
A big selling point for DITA is content reuse/single sourcing. Managers look at reuse as a means to justify migration to DITA.
  • What are the different ways to reuse content in DITA?
  • How is it done mechanically (conrefs, keys, etc.)?
  • How successful was it?
  • How do you measure the reuse?
  (3 votes)   [more]
How is it different from DITA? Who is using it? Do you use it together with regular DITA?
  (3 votes)   [more]
  • What is markdown?
  • Is it reasonable to use markdown for techcomm?
  • Examples of successful implementations?
  (3 votes)   [more]
Let's discuss the tech comm job market in the Bay area. Is it growing or shrinking? What trends are you seeing with opportunities? Is it all developer API type doc jobs, or are there many other opportunities as well? Where do you go to get the inside scoop on jobs -- glassdoor, indeed, other sources? How do you know which companies are toxic and which are ideal? Are we living in a bubble here? Does the high cost of living offset the terrible housing options? Are the sacrifices of living here worth the tradeoffs? Let's talk about what makes working in the Bay area unique in tech comm.
  (3 votes)   [more]
EPUB is based on HTML5 and CSS3, and can do almost anything that you can do on the web. In theory, a single EPUB could provide your documentation on all devices: mobile, tablet, laptop, desktop. All sounds great! (Yes?)
  • Have you considered using EPUB to deliver your content?
  • Have you tried to create EPUBs?
  • What's the biggest problem with EPUB?
  • Could EPUB be a replacement for a traditional Help system?
  (2 votes)   [more]
One reason that cyber security is challenging is the complexity of the conversations about it in every area of society.
Explaining things simply is complicated. Technical communicators have made complex information accessible in other fields. How can technical communicators apply skills that we already have to champion global cyber security?
  (2 votes)   [more]
Publishing PDFs from DITA can require completely different tools and knowledge, so let's just focus on HTML-based output in this topic. I see two general options:
  • Use the DITA-OT. Develop a plugin or extend the HTML output to suit your needs, and own that publishing process. Unlimited options/features, but development or in-house skills required. No required upgrades.
  • Use a proprietary publishing tool (RoboHelp, Flare, DocToHelp, etc.). Customize the formatting of a default template and publish. Options/features are often limited to those supported by the tool, but often quicker/easier to get "nice" output.
  (2 votes)   [more]
Getting PDFs from DITA can be hard. Getting high-quality PDFs from DITA can be really hard. Where do you draw the line on features/formatting? How do you explain this to people who insist on certain features? Are there options for getting those "nicer" features in these PDFs? Some options:
  • DITA-OT and XSL-FO .. OOB is "easy" but "ugly"
  • DITA-OT and XSL-FO .. requires a lot of work for "nice"
  • FrameMaker
  • Flare
  • MiramoPDF
  • What about CSS renderers?
  (2 votes)   [more]
Whom should a tech writer contact at a target company--what title or position?

What is the best method: phone, e-mail, paper letter, something else? If e-mail, how do you find the person's address?

What tools are available to find target companies?