Thursday, January 27, 2011

Joe's road trip

I'm here at the Santa Clara IHOP, less than two months from the 2011 WritersUA Conference for Software User Assistance, and conference organizer Joe Welinske is speaking at the monthly Silicon Valley STC (Society for Technical Communication) meeting. This is one stop on a road trip of STC chapter meeting across Northern California and other places talking about user assistance topics and, of course, promoting the conference. Last night he was in Sacramento and tomorrow he'll be in Long Beach. There, he'll be finishing up conference logistics and speaking Saturday at the Orange County STC chapter.

His talk tonight is on the topic "Development Techniques for User Assistance in Smartphone Applications." The topic is similar to one of the focus areas of the conference.

An interesting point, as apps on mobile platforms get more complex, the need for user assistance increases. Interestingly, Android user assistance is more complicated that iPhone (and I've dabbled in iPhone programming, which is definitely more challenging than many programming languages). For example, UI text on iPhone is in resource files that you can enter in a WYSIWYG environment, while Android UI text is in XML files. Each Android device manufacturer needs to provide its own simulator to be able to test for that device. OTOH, the Windows Phone development environment, Visual Studio Express, is a lot simpler, in many ways like the iPhone development environment.  Some of our familiar authoring tools, such as MadCap Flare, are starting to offer output that will display on mobile devices.