Online groups, summer 2012

iBooks Author

iBooks is an e-reader from Apple. In January 2012, Apple released iBooks Author (www.apple.com/ibooks-author/). iBooks Author is free software that is used to create e-books for iBooks. A writer selects an Apple-designed template and adds content. An e-book can include text, interactive images, movies, and 3D objects. The writer can review the e-book on an iPad. When the e-book is complete, the writer submits the e-book to the iBookstore.

A member discussed possible problems with iBooks Author:

Because Apple emphasises textbooks in its marketing, one member thinks that the iBookstore will cause problems for academic publishers.

Help for mobile applications

A member knows how to write web-based online help. She asked for guidelines about online help for mobile applications. Is the help in the form of tooltips? Is the help shown in a new a new window or in a pop-up window?

Initially, look at a framework for mobile applications, as jQuery Mobile (http://jquerymobile.com). jQuery Mobile has good documentation and tutorials. A technical communicator produces HTML5 documents that have links to the jQuery Mobile JavaScript framework. The JavaScript framework does all the complex work. Except for the Android Market (now Google Play) and the Apple App Store, you will have no problems developing online help.

Possibly, a better alternative is to use a help authoring tool to create user assistance for mobile devices. Additionally, buy a cheap mobile device.

As an alternative to buying a mobile device, use the Android SDK to emulate the output of a mobile device (http://developer.android.com/tools/help/emulator.html).

Buying software

A member wanted to buy software, and asked about a particular company. The reviews of the company are good, and their prices are very good, but the member was "concerned that they are too good to be true."

One member thinks that legal software from large companies is always approximately the same price. If a website offers cheap software, then probably you will receive an academic licence or an OEM licence. (An OEM licence is legal only with a new computer and for that one particular computer.)

The member who asked the initial question replied that "a market where all the suppliers sell at the same price is a broken market."

When one member bought software, she made sure that the software was new, was suitable for business use, and was not for OEM use. However, the package showed that the software was for Microsoft employees. Fortunately, she received a refund.

One member thinks that some software for professional use is expensive in comparison to other software. Members gave the following comments:

Full stops in lists

Many guidelines for the location of full stops in a bulleted list or in a numbered list are available. Members agree that the use of a particular style is not important. However, consistency is very important.

One member thinks that usability is more important than conformity to a particular style.

For a tutorial on how to use bulleted lists, see the Mantex newsletter, January 2012 (www.mantex.co.uk/2011/12/18/how-to-use-bulleted-lists/).

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