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marcia wilbur
marcia wilbur

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Automate Everything (you can)

Do you have a gig where you do repetitive tasks.
I have.

It's a chore!
Automate yourself out of a job - I've been warned about this for well over a decade.

In a recent gig, they had several technical writers on staff who would copy defect information, insert the content by manual paste, save and do this again. The other end was the writer worked with SMEs to get the summary for the release notes. Since the writers were unfamiliar with reading logs, this took some communication to draft the content.

Seriously, the engineers would include logs, images, sometimes video and a summary. The draft is easy for a dev, not a journalist or English major.

So, basically, I automated the grab and insertion process and drafted these one day when the team needed assistance. Warning: If you are productive, guess what - you are assigned more. Expect this. Set a good baseline of expectations based on bandwidth.

The problem was the company used a CCMS with DITA. This CCMS was completely unnecessary and restricted automation.

Reroute around the problem. Insert local and One copy/paste. No reason for a CCMS at all. Have you heard of XSL? Perhaps SVN or git.

When proprietary products - costing money restricts automation, it's time for a workflow improvement!

In one month, the main release notes writer did 2 release notes. I did 32 the first day and 42 the next.


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