1. 2023 Diana Award Winner: EuroSIGDOC

    The unexpected news of the day (or the year, or the decade) is that EuroSIGDOC just won the Diana award, for their long-term contribution to the field of communication design. The work of Technical Writers @ Lisbon was one of the reasons for the award.

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  2. Advanced Autumn School

    Oops! APCOMTEC did it again!

    The usual suspects have been considering how to expand on the successful Summer School organized since 2018 by TCeurope and now APCOMTEC.

    As teachers and organizers were mingling in the Summer School earlier this year, we learned that Nick Hill had done an extended presentation …

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  3. Making Technical Writers

    As I took my motorcycle back to Lisbon though the leisurely N1 road on the afternoon of Jun 18th, the words of two former students kept coming back to my mind. "I like my new job so much that it doesn't feel like work at all!"

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  4. SIGDOC'2021 Lisbon Hub: Interview

    SIGDOC'2021 experimented with a mixed format that combined regular online events, both synchronous and asynchronous, with eight additional presential meetups called "hubs". For the Lisbon Hub, EuroSIGDOC interviewed Robert Pierce, Konstanze Alex, and myelf.

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  5. F-Talk: Integrated API Documentation at Scale

    As part of the Farfetch F-Tech Talks, I reported on the tools and processes used at Farfetch to create and publish API documentation, and how they evolved over time.

    The API documentation combines traditional DITA topics with API references generated automatically through Open API specifications. The generation of API references …

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  6. Technical Writers @ Lisbon (June-2020, virtual)

    33 persons attended the 15th formal meeting, which took place virtually through the BlueJeans conference system. After the presentation by José Aragão, we challenged the participants to apply their new skills.

    20 persons accepted the challenge. We split the participants among five virtual rooms, and asked them to rewrite four …

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  7. On Becoming a Technical Communicator

    I had the privilege to teach structured writing at the first edition of the Postgraduate Course on Technical Communication at ISCAP (Portugal), sponsored by APCOMTEC, the Portuguese association for technical communication.

    The seven students were working professionals looking forward to change or improve their careers. I was surprised when these …

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  8. Inspire with Comics

    “An image is worth a thousand words. Why can't you draw me that picture? Or create a five-minute video to replace those manuals?”

    I have heard similar sentences over the years. Although a good image may make me think of a thousand words, I could never take a thousand words …

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  9. TCUK'2019: Workshop Inspire with Comics

    I wanted to attend the Technical Communication UK conference for years. The conference offered a reasonably priced residential fee in a countryside hotel. For a foreigner, this means an affordable conference, with more opportunities than usual to network with local colleagues.

    Networking happed over breakfast, lunch, dinner, evenings... and even …

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  10. TCeurope Summer School: Visual Highlights of Features

    During the last TCeurope Summer School, I taught 12 people how they might use comics to communicate the effects of technology in people.

    APCOMTEC (the Portuguese Association for Technical Communication) proposed the Summer School in 2018 as a first step to advance Technical Communication training at ISCAP (a school of …

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  11. TWL: Plain Text with AsciidocFX

    The editor AsciidocFX turns the plain text format Asciidoc into an insightful drafting tool, even if Asciidoc falls short as a production writing tool.

    AsciidocFX customizes the well-known Atom editor to handle AsciiDoc, a plain text format that is much better than Markdown but still weaker than ReStructured Text. AsciiDoc …

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  12. Technical Writers @ Lisbon (May-2017, Farfetch)

    The 13th formal meeting was spurred by opportunity. Rosário Durão was passing through Portugal, and the date suddenly emerged as the only option to hear her in Lisbon. Farfetch accepted to host an evening meetup in the new Lisbon office, but required one of the speakers to be from Farfetch …

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  13. Technical Writers @ Lisbon (March-2017, Feedzai)

    After some weeks of preparation, we finally held the 12th edition of Technical Writers @ Lisbon, this time at Feedzai's Lisbon office in Parque das Nações.

    Participants started arriving before and around 9AM as scheduled in a joyful mood and commenting about the amazing office view overlooking the Tagus river. We …

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  14. Technical Writers @ Lisbon (Nov-2016, IPS)

    This 11th formal session introduced the roles and tasks of technical writers to MSc. students in Management of Information Systems.

    The class has ten working students, which attend the classes after their regular work. Students arrived at their own pace, with Prof. Ângela Nobre using the initial time to …

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  15. Ways of visualizing science and technology: Results of an ethnographic pilot study with Portuguese and US engineers

    Eleven people attended the presentation by Rosário Durão at ISCTE. She presented her ongoing research on ways of visualizing science and technology.

    The VISTAC research project aims to distinguish between what is universal and what is culturally specific in visuals and visual conceptualization in different parts of the world.

    The …

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  16. Technical Writing for Portuguese Product Companies

    The economic crisis in Portugal stimulated the creation of product companies that sell worldwide. Over time, these companies accumulate a capital of knowledge (technical, domain, user) that benefits from governance and engineering by dedicated professionals, traditionally called technical writers.

    Technical writers have the ability to learn, organize, and transform knowledge …

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  17. Technical Writers @ Lisbon (May-2015, ISCTE)

    Carlos Costa challenged me to give a class on the importance of technical writing to his students of Software Engineering. However, he warned me that these students preferred technical topics and might despise management topics, for example. In the end, I decided to approach this class by recounting 21 of …

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  18. Technical Writers @ Lisbon (April-2015, FCSH)

    Looking back at what Technical Writers @ Lisbon has achieved in the last two years, we surprised ourselves with the interest and quality of the presentations at our formal events. However, only a handful of people attended each presentation, and few people attended all of them.

    Professor Rute Costa accepted our …

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  19. Technical Writers @ Lisbon (March-2015, informal)

    Twelve people attended the informal meeting at the bar “39 degraus” (29 steps) at Cinemateca Portuguesa.

    The first person arrived before 18h00, but the conversation started shortly after 18h10. People kept arriving as late at 20h00. Eleven people stayed for dinner, mostly with a choice of burgers or fresh pasta …

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  20. EditorsLab in Lisbon

    For the first time, the Global Editors Network brought to Portugal the EditorsLab friendly competition, in association with Google and the Portuguese Publishers Association (APImprensa). The competition happened at CENJOR, February 26 and 27th, 2015.

    Competing teams comprise a journalist, a designer and a developer. I was invited to participate …

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  21. All Skills on Deck!

    As I clean my desk at Altitude Software in the week before my final dismissal, I stumble across my old ID card for “Clube EASYPHONE”. I can hardly recognize myself in the photo. I've lost that beard years ago! Where did that 30-year old boy from 1998 go?

    It was …

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  22. Technical Writers @ Lisbon (June-2014, informal)

    Seven people attended the informal meeting at the terrace of Hotel Altis Avenida. This time, everyone found the correct Altis hotel.

    The meeting started shortly after 18h00, and we broke-up the meeting after 20h30. However, four people had a follow-up conversation at Starbucks, and two of those continued the conversation …

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  23. 3rd APCOMTEC meeting in Aveiro

    Four people shared a car from Lisbon to Aveiro in order to attend the third technical communication meeting by APCOMTEC, the Portuguese association of Technical Writers. In particular, I had the company of Maria Spínola, Laura Barros, and Carlos Costa.

    Everyone agreed that getting out of bed early enough to …

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  24. 20 Years of Technical Writing at Altitude Software

    Presentations by local technical writers have shown a surprising diversity of writing and content governance scenarios on mature software companies. Mature companies have unique business problems that require unique technical and human solutions.

    On Altitude Software, writers struggle to control the complexity created by the organic growth of a mature …

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  25. Practitioners and academia at ISDOC'2014

    ISDOC‘2014 (Information Systems and Design of Communication) benefited from crossing the growing traditions of EuroSIGDOC conferences in Lisbon and informal practitioner meetings in Lisbon. Everyone involved was important.

    There was a warm atmosphere at the conference this year that contrasted with the contemplative mood typical in previous years. This …

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  26. Technical Writers @ Lisbon (October-2013)

    We had just 11 registrations, including organizers and speakers, but we also expected about 15 students of MOSS (Masters on Open Source Software) to attend. For personal reasons, several past participants informed us that they would not be able to attend.

    24 persons attended the meetup, including 14 MOSS students …

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  27. OSDOC’10: The Birth of a Company-Wide Wiki

    A small software company with a worldwide presence uses one wiki to store or access most company information. Using open source software, the wiki started as a small team tool and then grew to reach technical people. An innovative content strategy proposal later extended the reach of the wiki to …

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  28. The Birth of a Company-Wide Wiki

    A small software company with a worldwide presence uses one wiki to store or access most company information. Using open source software, the wiki started as a small team tool and then grew to reach technical people. An innovative content strategy proposal later extended the reach of the wiki to …

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  29. Good Ideas can Still Become Sins

    The Seven Deadly Sins of Management by Jonathan Ellis and René Tissen Profile Books, 2003 ISBN 1-86197-526-0

    I read this book in the Summer of 2003, after the NASDAQ bubble burst that took part of Altitude Software with it. The book explains how good ideas can go bad and, in …

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  30. My First Management Book

    The Leader-Manager: Guidelines for Action by William D. Hitt IEEE Press, 1988 ISBN 935470409

    This was my first book about management. I bought it as soon as it became apparent that I might became a manager later on, which means that I bought it in 1997 and probably read it …

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  31. Pragmatic DITA on a Budget

    A small documentation team working on a tight budget can now use the tool ecosystem enabled by the DITA standard to create the sophisticated content that previously required long and expensive projects. The author spent just nine person-weeks over three years to replace a custom XML system with a DITA …

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  32. Agile Documentation with uScrum

    uScrum (uncertainty Scrum) is an agile process developed by a small team at Altitude Software to manage the process of gathering information and writing documentation.

    uScrum proposes different practices to estimate tasks, depending on their difficulty as defined by an order of ignorance. Understanding the difficulty of tasks has allowed …

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