Last week I travelled to Melbourne to the annual AODC conference. It was good catching up with the technical communicators there and gave me a chance to introduce a new direction that Author-it is moving in – Real Time Performance Support. I gave a talk about the background behind the rise in Real Time Performance Support and outlined how they are being used and to what effect. We have a new product release soon – Author-it Assist, you can read more about this on our latest products page of the website http://www.author-it.com/index.php?page=latestproducts. I see this doing two things for people. Firstly, its a great way to provide contextual help – even in applications made by other people. Secondly these systems are used to create customized support for organizations tying all their applications contextually to their own content repository. We’ve done a lot of research and found that users need a support system in their work place that does several things:
- Integrates directly into applications and provides contextual learning without any need to access the development code or context ID’s
- Provide multiple contextual links from a single page
- Supports informal learning strategies (requiring less investment in formal training and less disruptive peer training)
- That serves up content using ‘just in time’ practice (push and pull the content to the user)
- Provides customized, contextual content that suits ‘how they use it’ not ‘how it works’
- Sends updates to contextual links independently of new software builds
These systems are being used to great success already and are certainly on the rise with the Knowledge Managers. It’s interesting that the technical writer is a big winner as it enables them to do so much more ‘retrofitting’ with their support material.
Do you, as a technical writer, see value in being able to retrofit your material into other applications?
Posted by Richard Ashurst, Business Development Manager, Author-it Software Corporation