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Anna M. is a software engineer. She has just started working for a company that develops custom add-ons for an out-of-the-box financial software solution. For developing the add-ons, Anna is supposed to use the API of the software. Little does Anna know about the API's structure, its interfaces, and its functionality. She looks up the documentation of the API and realizes that she's got a problem.

Recently I read a wiki article about Malta. My friend Sarah wrote it. I knew Malta was a small island. I knew it was in the Mediterranean. What I did not know was that Malta was one of the smallest states in the world. I also learned that the capital of Malta is Valletta. Naturally I concluded that Valletta was located in Malta. Most of us would. Computers would not. Because the wiki article was not machine-interpretable. It had no semantic capabilities.

Inconsistent use of terminology makes it more difficult to communicate in an organization. It also leads to misunderstandings. A terminology management system can solve this problem. The software manages all your company-specific terms and improves communication. Employees have access to an always up-to-date corporate terminology and can even participate in defining new terms.

by Anne Hoffmann and Ann-Cathrin Mackenthun

In agile software development we no longer create lengthy functional specifications or product requirements. We write our requirements as short user stories that could easily fit on a note card or a beer mat. Software requirements on a beer mat? How can they possibly make sense to the developer or the technical writer?

When MS Word is no longer enough ...

Many companies start producing their documentation in Word, and this works well for small manuals. But over time, as products change and grow, small manuals suddenly have hundreds of pages and become increasingly difficult to manage. At this point, companies look for other solutions such as migrating from Word to XML-based documentation.

Structured FrameMaker is a popular choice for an XML editor. But making this transition requires knowledge, discipline, and attention to detail.

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