If I'm quiet, I'm working.

I know a lot of people have been eagerly waiting for Arbortext 103 and 201, but what's on my desk has priority.

All year customer needs have been on the top of the pile. I've traveled more in the last year—delivering customized training on Arbortext, Windchill, DITA, and MILSPEC—more than in the last ten. Then, if you consider my speaking schedule, you'd realize for most of 2019, I was barely in the office. I have one more trip to go before the year closes out, too.

(In fact, for several conferences last year I submitted topics that interest me, but that I didn't think would interest anyone else. Surprise, surprise! Everyone wanted it and I had standing-room only situations several times.)

What happened to 2019?

That's what I want to know too.

It's been a crazy year for us here at Single-Sourcing Solutions. It's why we've been so quiet. We've all been burning the candle at both ends to meet all of the obligations this year has brought our way.

One of the projects that had us tied up this summer was developing training for MIL-SPEC 3001. Not only did we create training for this tightly regulated specification, but we bundled it with 40051 specification training and brought it all together for writers who had never written in XML or SGML before. Our trainees had all been dropped into this spec they'd never seen before and given a brand new toolset in Arbortext and Windchill.

By the end of that training, writers who had only ever used Word before were excited to be using Arbortext and pestering their managers to get them on the active project team. With that completed, future deliveries on 3001 and 40051 will take less time to spin up, but that doesn't mean my time is fully freed up: We already know that we'll be delivering a comparable training course in S1000D in 2020.

Coming out soon is a new book: a basic authoring companion book to go alongside Arbortext 101. Its release date is currently set for the end of the month. It's in edit and review now. We hope to get it out before we leave for our last conference of 2019.

If you're new to XML or SGML, this book will answer your questions and boost your confidence. Janice did the writing. If any of you have had the chance to meet or talk with her, you know she has the magic touch. She's able to take Word-only-writers and have them not just comfortable authoring in XML but eager to as well.

For Lavacon in October, we put together an ambitious workshop on layout that we will take on the road in 2020. To celebrate (and have fun at our booth) we developed two board games based on childhood favorites, recast for techcomm and content strategy audiences.

Here's where things stand

Arbortext 103 is in its third draft and has been tested by two customers. This summer, in the middle of the testing, we found several improvements to assumptions we've made over the years and are busily incorporating those changes into the books. Many of the changes are due to my outstanding co-author who knows Windchill like I know Arbortext. He's like us, a natural teacher and trainer, who is interested in sharing knowledge and helping people become good stewards of the product they invest in. It's made for a better book all around, but it won't be out until mid-2020.

Likewise, Arbortext 201 is similarly delayed. The changes for 201 carry over to 103. We've also expanded this book to include more of the situations that affect MILSPEC customers. Their situation is in some ways easier and harder than the typical Arbortext customer.

Federal aerospace and defense technical writers have detailed specifications to follow, but their job is often more difficult because they're handed a custom directory that they don't control and which, more often than not, has special needs that go beyond what I covered Arbortext 101. In addition, they need more help navigating the waters with their customer--knowing what to ask and how to ask it to get the answers they need.

We've added discussions around all of that to help guide these writers to successful deliveries, happy customers, and end users they'll never get to talk with but who find their content critical for getting their jobs done and often very big machines operational.

Arbortext 201 will likely come out before 103 because that is what our customers need most right now and it's the more complicated situation. It's always easier to subtract than to add.

 

Don't want to wait?

Join the TC Dojo Mastermind Group. All of our members (corporate and individual) have been able to take advantage of the improvements to our typical deployment that we learned in 2019. But the corporate-level members were the ones who got to test the early drafts.

In addition, because of the monthly conference calls, everyone has had an opportunity to ask questions directly to my co-author live.

So, if you've been waiting for either 103 or 201, you really should join the Masterminds.

I know it has been a long road and a longer wait, but sometimes that's how it works out. Customers come first but we try to share whenever we can. That's why we have the TC Dojo Mastermind groups. That's why I speak regularly at conferences. Nothing beats one-on-one time, though. Mastermind group members benefit from everything we're working on, as we're working on it. They get it first.

It's a rare opportunity that has tangible benefits for anyone using Arbortext, Windchill, or just wants to talk about the intricacies of the doctype they're using be it DITA or S1000D (and everything in between).

We're here for you. Sign up to take advantage. Don't wait. We are working on 103 and 201, but our customer projects always come first.

 

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