The New England Chapter of STC held its first meeting of the year on October 19th at the MathWorks in Natick to learn about adapting techcomm to mobile.
This year the chapter is experimenting with new venues, and the October meeting was hosted by the MathWorks in Natick, Massachusetts. Neil Perlin of Hyper/Word Services kicked off the chapter year with a presentation on “How Mobile Will Change Tech Comm.” Citing sales figures that show smartphones are now the most common platform for surfing the web, Neil suggested being proactive about creating responsive content intended for smartphones, tablets, and other mobile and desktop devices. In fact, because it is the most stringent environment, he advocates writing for mobile first.
The limited display area of smartphones presents challenges to using common elements such as images and tables. Vendors of familiar tools are responding to the new reality. For example, MadCap Flare 11 offers a Top Navigation template for HTML5, a contemporary, responsive design compatible with mobile displays that is no longer in the familiar tripane format.
On the other hand, mobile platforms also represent an opportunity to break out of the mindset of techcomm groups as cost centers. Neil mentioned Dozuki.com, offering the documentation platform for iFixit.com, which can combine owner’s manuals with the ability to order spare parts.
Neil’s presentation was followed by a lively discussion on the future role of techcomm groups and practitioners.