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[Updated: 16 October 2023 - preserved info about TC Camp prior to it's close.]

Join us in Sunnyvale, CA in January for the first annual TC Camp. The first unconference for content creators, strategists, publishers, and the people who support them.  

TC Camp is an Unconference focused on Technical Communications issues, skills, challenges, and the various applications used by technical communicators.TC Camp is a vendor-neutral bay area event aimed at content designers, creators, publishers and the people who support them.

We all have different levels of expertise as we face different issues and situations. At TC Camp we each extend our expertise to we can all learn from each other.

TC Camp is high-value, low-cost option for a training opportunity that provides access to industry experts like Max Hoffmann, Sharon Burton, and Scott Prentice. It's happening on a Saturday, so you know that you'll be there with only the most dedicated and driven technical communicators in the area.

TC Camp will help you grow in confidence because you learn from peers while contributing your own expertise. You will be able to respond to any team's growing needs and meet challenging new goals in the future.

How it works

First, there are morning classes that provide the traditional training or conference environment. The classes are followed by a panel of experts and an afternoon of open discussion sessions that are designed to bring people together who have a shared interest or who want to work together to work on something, figure something out, solidify their understanding, or even plan their strategy.

This year's morning workshops cover specific tools like Adobe's Technical Communications Suite, MadCap's full publishing environment, or Aptara's epub tools. There are also workshops aimed at specific documentation issues -- content strategy, improving content through analytics methods, and improving content retrieval using library science concepts.

In the afternoon, there are open discussion sessions that are driven by the attendees. Anyone can suggest a topic for discussion: Is your team discussing XML? Are they looking at improving SME review cycles? Is localization on the horizon? Attendees can discuss topics that are staring us all in the face with other people who have conquered these issues.

The agenda creation process is open so that all those gathered can put forward ideas for sessions. Because the agenda is made live in real time it is directly relevant to the attendees. All the content is guaranteed to be relevant to you because, remember, you choose the sessions and you drive the discussion.

Curious about the Expert Panel? It's a star-studded line-up:

  • Sharon Burton (SharonBurton.com)
  • Catherine Lyman (NetApp)
  • Marta Rauch (Oracle)
  • Rebekka Andersen (UC Davis)
  • Patricia Boswell (Google)
  • Michael Hahn (Alphabetical by Author)

And how about our sponsors?

  • Camp Ambassador: Adobe Systems
  • Camp Counselors: Silicon Valley Cloud Center, Single-Sourcing Solutions
  • Camp Rangers: MadCap Software, Data Conversion Laboratory, Aptara, UCSC Extension Silicon Valley
  • Camp Conservationist: oXygenXML

Now, go sign up!


The following information about TC Camp's Unconference is preserved from TC Camp's website before they closed in 2023 for posterity and informational purposes. The Room 42 Podcast remains on YouTube.

About the TC Camp Unconference

TC Camp’s Unconference is a local conference for technical communicators that is driven by the members of the community–writers, editors, designers, and the people who support them.

TC Camp events are free to attend. Several morning workshops are available at low cost, thanks to the support of our vendors and sponsors. The workshops are voted on by the community and are always a hit with attendees.

What is an unconference?

If you're unfamiliar with the term “unconference,” it is a type of conference where the topics/sessions are decided by the attendees on the day of the event. An unconference is an event where users suggest topics, get together and discuss them in detail. There are no presenters, but rather a meeting of like-minded people who want to discuss the selected topic. The day starts with optional workshops run by tech comm luminaries, and then the unconference is held in the afternoon.

TC Camp is free (minus a nominal fee for an optional workshop and lunch), and is a full day of learning, sharing, and networking for tech comm professionals.

Past Events

  • Unconference 2013
  • Unconference 2014
  • Unconference 2015
  • Hot Topic SumUp at STC Summit 2015
  • Unconference 2016
  • Summer Camp Unconference 2016
  • Unconference 2017
  • Summer Camp Unconference 2017
  • Unconference 2018
  • Unconference 2019

How the TC Camp Unconference Got Started

TC Camp was inspired by the amazingly successful Data Mining Camp, put on by the San Francisco Bay ACM. One day, Liz Fraley at Single-Sourcing Solutions thought it was worth the experiment to bring the unconference format to technical communications professionals. It''s not really surprising, Liz and Single-Sourcing Solutions provide an extreme amount of community resources and, in fact, finds dedication to communities part of their corporate responsibility.

She had been thinking about how it was going to be possible to pull off an event like an unconference while keeping it accessible (and at a low cost) and still providing a good value to attendees. It wasn't until the ACM had their Hackathon at the Silicon Valley Cloud Center that everything came together for that first TC Camp event. With a venue in hand, Liz contacted a wide-variety of top-notch speakers to created a fantastic agenda that had mixture of valuable content: a flexible unconference and high-value workshops. This way attendees would get quality training opportunities as well as be inspired for complex discussions in the afternoon.

That first year the event was successful that everyone who attended asked when they were going to hold the next one. (And everyone who wasn't local asked when we were going to take it on the road!). The toughest critics in the Bay Area have said it was the best thing to happen to tech comm in a decade.

Why use the term "Camp" to describe this unconference event?

Originally, in 2005, O'Reilly Media had a Friends Of O'Reilly (Foo Camp) unconference event, where some people actually camped out that weekend.

How An Unconference Works

The TC Camp Unconference is focused on the issues, skills, challenges, and the various applications used by content creators, publishers, and distributors, and those people who support them.

Suggest a Topic

The conference agenda is created on the day of the event by the attendees during the general session first thing in the morning. Anyone can suggest a topic by writing a short description on the topic suggestion sheet or submitting a topic early through the website. Each topic is voted on separately.

Vote Topics into the Agenda

Those topics that are voted into the agenda are given a designated room and time slot.

Session Topics You Propose

They can include one or more focus topics such as:

Content architecture and design – how to organize, how to plan authoring in a distributed model, keeping a handle on your reuse, reuse strategies, thinking like an architect

Best practices: Writing, formatting, design, localization, publishing, process engineering, change management, collaboration, reuse, specializing or customizing, benefits and drawbacks, going mobile

Tools/Processes: Commercial, public domain, libraries, doctypes (DITA, DocBook, S1000D, custom)

Skills: Working with other content consumers and producers, growing your influence, Developing metrics to justify resources, projects, tools

Help me: I am stuck on… I need guidance… How do you…? (Suggest a topic of general interest)

Session Requirements

Before a session can be scheduled, two requirements must be met:

Volunteer to be the Facilitator

One attendee must volunteer to be the facilitator who will lead the discussion.

The facilitator need not be the same person who suggested the topic or the subject matter expert for the session. This advice from Scott Berkun o how to run a good session can help make the Unconference great for everyone–including you!

Volunteer to be the Scribe

One attendee must volunteer to be the note taker. The note taker is responsible for sharing what was discussed in the final session of the day. The note taker cannot be the same person as the facilitator.


Once the agenda is set, find the sessions you want to go to and participate!

TC Camp is a way to bring together people in the who work with the people who create, publish, and deliver content and who have a shared interest or who want to work together on something.

Unconferences aim to break the barrier between speaker and attendee — so everyone can contribute to the discussion.

TC Camp Events

TC Camp Unconference – 26 January 2013

Where: Silicon Valley Innovation Center, 3200 Coronado Dr, Santa Clara, CA


  • Maxwell Hoffmann, Adobe, “Author and Review Cycle with Adobe Tech Comm Suite 4 and HTML5 output”
  • Sharon Burton, SharonBurton.com, “What if we’re all doing the same thing?”
  • Rebekka Anderson, UC Davis, “Collaboration Strategies and Tools for Success”
  • Michael Hahn, Alphabetical by Author, “XML at 15, Where are we now?”
  • Scott Prentice, Leximation, “PDFs from DITA without Compromising Quality and Control”
  • Liz Fraley, Single-Sourcing Solutions, “Thinking like a librarian – Applying categorization strategies to technical content”

Expert Panel Keynote

  • Rebekka Andersen, UC Davis
  • Sharon Burton, SharonBurton.com
  • Michael Hahan, Alphabetical By Author
  • Catherine Lyman, NetApp
  • Scott Prentice, Leximation
  • Marta Rauch, Oracle
  • Moderator: Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler

TC Camp Unconference – 24 January 2014

Hospitality Management building, Mission College, Santa Clara, CA


  • Adobe Workshop: Introducing TCS5 with Maxwell Hoffmann
  • Analytics Workshop with Alyson Harrold and Massimo Paolini
  • Lessons Learned on the Road to DITA with Amy Bowman, Wendy Shaffer, and Tracy Baker
  • Content Quality with Chip Gettinger and Pam Noreault
  • Responsive Design with Mike Hamilton

Expert Panel Keynote

  • Ben Colburn, Nutanix
  • Val Swisher, Content Rules
  • Yas Etessam, OPS Online
  • Linda Urban, Linda Urban Communications
  • Joan Lasselle, Lasselle-Ramsay
  • Eric Armstrong, Software AG
  • Moderator: Scott Abel

TC Camp Unconference – 24 January 2015

Hospitality Management building, Mission College, Santa Clara, CA


  • Adobe Workshop with Maxwell Hoffmann
  • Creating a Documentation Portal with Steve Anderson
  • API Documentation with Tom Johnson
  • Writing for Mobile with Marta Rauch, Cindy Church, and Gail Chappell

Keynote: Camper's Feud!

The Dangling Participles: Tracy Baker, Mysti Berry, Ben Colborn, Liz Fraley


The Serial Commas: Alan Houser, Rebecca Firestone, Mark Giffin, Scott Prentice

Host: Janice Summers

TC Camp Hot Topic SumUp – 2015

A Mini-Unconference at STC Summit 2015. In this 2-hour session, you can get a taste of the TC Camp Unconference.

TC Camp Unconference + API Workshop – 23-24 January 2016

Hospitality Management building, Mission College, Santa Clara, CA


  • Pre-Unconference full-day API Workshop with Sarah Maddox and Andy Fuchs
  • Content Strategy Workshop with Gavin Austin
  • Marketing Yourself Workshop with Andrew Davis
  • Git Workshop with Jenn Leaver and Cynthia Rich
  • User Experience with Beth Chargin, Jeffrey Maramba, and Gwen McLean

Keynote: Camper's Feud!

The Dangling Participles: Chip Gettinger, Tom Johnson, Suneeta Aggarwal, Liz Fraley


The Serial Commas: Andrew Davis, Marta Rauch, Linda Urban, Scott Prentice

Host: Amy Bowman

TC Camp Summer Camp – 30 July 2016

George Mason University, Fairfax, VA


  • Adobe Ambassador Workship with Dustin Vaughn
  • Content Strategy with Greyl Kinsey
  • Git with Nicky Bleiel
  • Work Global/Live Local with Kate Bowerman, Joan Carter, Melissa Kulm, Karen Marginot
  • Promoting Yourself through Social Media and Podcasting with Ed Marsh

Keynote: Expert Panel

  • Nicky Bleiel
  • Gretta Boller
  • Todd DeLuca
  • Ben Woelk
  • Moderator: Scott Prentice

TC Camp Unconference + API Workshop – 20-21 January 2017

Hospitality Management building, Mission College, Santa Clara, CA


  • Pre-Unconference full-day API Workshop with Peter Gruenbaum
  • Adobe Ambassador Workshop with Dustin Vaughn
  • Microlearning Workshop with Andrea Perry
  • Minimalism Workshop with Dawn Stevens

Keynote: Expert Panel

  • Peter Gruenbaum
  • John Perry
  • Richard Mateosian
  • Gregory Koberger
  • Moderator: Andrew Davis

TC Camp Summer Camp – 30 September 2017

District Architecture Center, 421 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004


  • Adobe Ambassador Workshop with Dustin Vaughn
  • Structured Authoring with Janice Summers
  • Collaboration with Andrew Lawless

Keynote: Guiseppe Getto, Content Garden

Community Comments

From STC WDBC: Announcement and Reminder.

TC Camp Unconference + API Workshop – 26-27 January 2018

Hospitality Management building, Mission College, Santa Clara, CA


  • Pre-Unconference full-day API Workshop with Peter Gruenbaum
  • Adobe Ambassador Workshop with Dustin Vaughn
  • Minimalism with Dawn Stevens
  • SEO for Tech Writers with Massimo Paolini and Alyson Harrold
  • Chatbots with Michael Lam

Keynote: Daniel Rosenberg, San Jose State University, "UI/UX for Technical Communications Practitioners"

TC Camp Unconference + API Workshop – 26-27 April 2019

API Workshop: San Jose Martin Luther King Library, San Jose, CA

Unconference: Ballroom, Student Union at San Jose State University, San Jose, CA


  • Pre-Unconference full-day API Workshop with Peter Gruenbaum
  • Adobe Ambassador Workshop with Matt Sullivan
  • Taxonomies with Dawn Stevens
  • Static Site Generators with Jessica Parsons
  • Field Guide to SMEs with Mark Thompson

Keynote: Gavin Austin, Salesforce

TC Camp Community Responses

"TC Camp's popularity arises from its unconference format — it places more focus on the attendees instead of juried presentations. As long as you participate, vote, and interact in the discussions, you're guaranteed to connect."

Tom Johnson

I'd Rather Be Writing Blog

"As technical communicators, we’re all well aware of the critical importance of keeping our skills current and our networks active. Fortunately, a value-packed event is just around the corner that can help us do just that: TC Camp … TC Camp is incredibly affordable with no compromises on quality. Many of the best minds in Northern California technical communication will be participating this year… So if you’re looking for the perfect opportunity for skill-building, networking, and fun, grab your backpack and head for camp."

Lori Meyer

Communication Rising Blog

"I attended the TC Camp last year [2013] and found it to be immensely valuable. I really liked the "unconference" format in which attendees choose what they want to talk about. The discussions I attended were timely, lively, and informative. With a dozen or more sessions to choose from, it was easy to find plenty to like. The event is also valuable for its camaraderie. I've long missed having a regional event where I could meet with other technical communication professionals and exchange ideas."

Patrick Lufkin

STC San Francisco Newsletter

"I attended last year [2014], and it was worthwhile. Even for an “unconventional” tech writer like me (not using Adobe, or Flare, or DITA), there were plenty of workshop options. It’s a good way to meet other tech writers and discuss challenges and solutions. Even better, it’s an affordable way to learn whether attending a larger tech comm conference would be worthwhile."

Neil Kaplan

in the comments on the I'd Rather Be Writing Blog

I presented a morning workshop and was part of the expert panel in 2013 and earlier this year I made the trip to San Jose again as an attendee. It's been well worth the trip on both occasions, and here's the short list of reasons why I'm looking forward to TC Camp 2015...

It's a chance to get out of the cave.  Gatherings like TC Camp offer the opportunity to compare notes with people who share your concerns — and perhaps more importantly — people who have different problems to solve.

It's a chance to teach. We all have knowledge to share, expertise on our particular set of circumstances, and the tactical and strategic opinions that go along with technical communications implementation.

It's a chance to learn. TC Camp gives us the opportunity to listen to peers and experts in similar (and sometimes completely different) fields discuss the issues they've had to face and the solutions they've found.

And besides, it's a chance to get out of Texas for a couple of days in January (ice storms, anyone?). I'll see you in 2015!

Michael Hahn

TC Camp Attendee Survey

TC Camp is a one-day "unconference" that packs more into one day than some weeklong conferences I've attended. The seminars are interesting and provide a future view of our industry. The "unconference" format gives attendees control of what they want to learn during the day. The offerings are all so leading edge that it's actually hard to pick the top few that interest me in what time allows. Lessons learned at TC Camp help keep me at the top of my game, and, therefore, highly marketable.

Last year, my favorite moment at TC Camp was a customer-led seminar. She provided real-world usage of tool implementation, and that was so interesting. Information right from the trenches! Of course, it was a success story; however, the pitfalls were also outlined, so anybody moving to that tool could sidestep these issues.

The midday forum was another highlight of the day. If you're attending for the first time, look for TC Camp veterans who can help you through the unconference process — choosing what seminars you'd like presented is your first task. Also, finding a veteran expands your network, and TC Camp (and Tech Comms, for that matter) is all about networking. I look forward to seeing my TC Camp buddies and meeting new TC Camp friends in 2015!

Cherie Woodward

TC Camp Attendee Survey

I attended TC Camp last year because I was confident the program would feature very knowledgeable speakers and session topics that address current markets and technologies.

My favorite part of TC Camp was how much I learned about DITA from professionals who had been through actual adoption and implementation in their companies and consulting engagements. As in STC settings, everyone was quite open and willing to share the benefits of their experience. Related to this, TC Camp a great networking opportunity. I received two contracting queries as a result of my conversations there.

My advice for new attendees? Arrive early For one thing, I thought the campus roads were confusing and poorly marked. If we'll be in a different location, of course this doesn't apply. More important, I missed the preliminaries of setting the program, though, as I say I found the program to be very valuable overall.

Prescott Williams

TC Camp Attendee Survey

TC Camp is a great deal – it's free! Lunch is only $4. For $35, you can attend a workshop given by a tech comm professional on a very relevant subject. It is held in Silicon Valley. That is always exciting to me because I get to meet people working on the cutting edge of technology and willing to share their knowledge. This will be the third year that I will attend.

The networking is great. I meet new people and refresh old contacts. The face time is very valuable.

Come ready to network, have a good time, and participate. Unlike other conferences with set agendas, attendees vote on the sessions and can actively share their own knowledge and experiences with others.

June Harton

TC Camp Attendee Survey

I've been attending STC conferences and events since the early 1990s, and the TC Camps are, by far, my favorites. The "unconference" format, whose content is largely dictated by the attendees, provides flexibility and keeps the proceedings spontaneous, smart, and relevant. The formal presentations and vendor access are, of course, valuable, but mostly I enjoy the camaraderie. TC Camp is one of few opportunities around where you can engage with so many smart, dedicated technical communicators who are willing to share what they know and are savvy enough to invest a day outside of work in their own careers and professional development.

Patrick Lufkin

TC Camp Attendee Survey

I will admit that I attended partly just to see how an unconference worked. I am a fan of creative processes and ways of working with peers that improve on older, more traditional, hierarchical strategies that, of course, have their place, but don't solve every problem and bring plenty of their own. I have to say that this alone was worth the effort to attend. (I had to fly in from Oregon on my own dime.) It is heartening to see the excitement and engagement this conference structure encourages in its attendees.

I was interested in most of the user-suggested topics, and most of them were relevant to the work I do. Further, I found that the sessions I attended to be surprisingly and somewhat contradictorily appropriate for both beginners and experienced professionals. That is not to say that they were comprehensive, mind you. Rather, parts of each session were educational for people new to a topic, while other parts got sufficiently beyond the surveys or tutorials one might find on the web to hold all but the most jaded practitioner's attention.

Finally, I found the vendor presentations informal enough, educational enough, and lacking enough "salesy-ness" to honestly feel like there was a fair trade of my time for their support of the camp.

The networking opportunities and the user-suggested sessions were a close tie for my favorite parts of TC Camp.

Paul Nagai

TC Camp Attendee Survey

Get to the cookies first. Be open-minded and know that you are among friends. Please share your ideas and comments without fear of ridicule or retribution. TC Camp attendees are warm and friendly, and are investing their time and money to learn, share ideas, and network. It's a very comfortable learning environment. And remember: Get to the cookies first!

Victor Buccieri

TC Camp Attendee Survey, advice for new attendees

I really like the unconference format. It gives everyone a chance to contribute, and the sessions are often much more engaging than a typical conference talk.

One of my favorite parts is when the session proposals go up for voting. It provides a really interesting snapshot of the variety of issues that technical communicators deal with on a day-to-day basis. It always gives me new things to think about.

Get involved! Suggest a session, volunteer to be a note taker, or just share your ideas even if they seem half-baked. TC Camp is very much an event where you get out of it what you put into it.

Wendy Shaffer

TC Camp Attendee Survey, advice for new attendees

I am a fan of the format of TC Camp. I love everything about it, from attendees choosing the session topics to the small group discussions and the session summaries at the end of the day.

My advice to someone attending for the first time would be to bring a tech comm challenge you are having at work and it is likely that someone at TC Camp will have a solution for you.

Jill Ellonsali

TC Camp Attendee Survey, advice for new attendees

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