Must Read: Confluence, Tech Comm, Chocolate

“Who cares about printing money, let’s print chocolate!”

–Chapter 23, Driving Wiki Development, Confluence, Tech Comm, Chocolate

Do you need proof that Sarah Maddox, author of Confluence, Tech Comm, Chocolate: A wiki as platform extraordinaire for technical communication, is a complete chocolate and wiki expert? Let me tell you, she knew that one day we will print chocolate in our (industrial-grade) kitchens. And sure enough, that day has arrived! And so has her book. It’s a wonderful addition to the XML Press family.

Sarah has an amazing knack to start at the beginning and introduce wikis in a friendly way even though she has been living the wiki life for years. She writes an introduction to wikis in an approachable way and ensures the reader knows the context is technical communication. But for me there are technical details revealed that offer the best chapters of this book. There is the deep technical dive into “building online help” especially her case study of web-based, context-sensitive online help. This solution should rock your world if you’re looking for a cross-platform web delivery of your online help. Her chapter about “a day in the life” of the wiki is just what you need to understand how this delivery and collaboration solution is different from “ordinary” technical writing. And I thoroughly reviewed and enjoyed “Giving your wiki wings.” Wikis with wings are the way technical writers will show their value to the world. I especially appreciate the chapter “Driving wiki development,” where Sarah is clearly honest about gaps in wiki functionality and how we can actually improve our experiences with wikis.

This book is an important, essential addition to the professional writer’s bookshelf. I’ve already whole-heartedly recommended it to an entire team of Rackspace writers and to all my Austin-based writer friends who have listened to me talk about the changes in the industry over the years. I want to recommend it to all of you as well. This book offers both visionary inspiration and the nitty-gritty technical details for all of us working in this web-centric world. I have so much respect for Sarah’s work on this book. Her enthusiasm for the wiki way shines through each page – web page and printed page. Pick up a copy, devour it like a chocolate bar, and drive collaboration for technical content.

Buy now at Barnes and Noble

Buy now at Amazon.com

5 Comments

  • April 27, 2012 - 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Hallo Anne

    Thank you so much for a lovely and thoughtful review! I love this sentence of yours: “Wikis with wings are the way technical writers will show their value to the world.” Short, sweet, and encapsulating one of the primary messages of the book.

    Cheers
    Sarah

  • April 28, 2012 - 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Why, you’re welcome! Thank you for your lovely book. :)

  • Melody
    May 18, 2012 - 7:15 am | Permalink

    I’ve been perusing Sarah’s book for a few weeks and it’s now full of sticky notes. We use the Confluence wiki, so this book has been especially helpful. One area where I was hoping to find some guidance was around application of “labels.”

    The book describes how labels help with search, but it doesn’t do the deep dive into how to apply labels to ensure that your users can find a topic. For example, if you have a 100 topics about installation, do you add an “installation” label to each page, or will that decrease findability? And according to her book and the Confluence documentation, if the most important topic was written first, it stands less of a chance being found in a search.

    Those of us who moved from the book paradigm, and were familiar with indexing, struggle with this transition to labels. In fact, I’ve found precious little about this topic on the Internet. I’d love to see you and Sarah come up with some “best practices” for labeling to maximize findability.

    Blog on ladies. :-)

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