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Archive for the ‘HATs’ Category

HATs are the Energizer Bunny

I’m getting a little sarcastic about the conversation on HATs.  I started this blog as a way to keep track of the new developments in technical writing, and the hot thing now is open-source authoring tools like Mediawiki and Confluence 3.1 Beta.  Still, I can’t say there isn’t a good reason for it.  Let me just address one thing you’ll be able to walk away with and use.

If you create something on Mediawiki, you can adjust the skin.  Before I show you how, allow me to make the disclaimer that my attempts to download Mediawiki have been unsuccessful–my computer won’t agree with it.  We have from Wikipedia:

A default skin can be set for new users of a wiki by setting the variable $wgDefaultSkin in LocalSettings.php to the lowercase skin name specified in the skin file. Users can still change their skin later by going to their preferences page. To change all existing users’ skin settings, use the userOptions.php maintenance script.  The syntax to use on the command line would be:

$ php userOptions.php skin --old <old skin name> --new <new skin name>
Categories: HATs

The Continuing Conversation with HATs

I’ve looked a little bit and saw the conversation (or one of the conversations) in technical writing is still on help authoring tools (HATs).  Tom Johnson’s convinced traditional HATs will fade, and I’m convinced it’s foolish for me to question such a reputable tech writer.  The idea, as far as I can gather, is to give the author as much control over the HAT as possible.  That means the emerging HATs will be a little less accommodating to beginners, but it also means greater versatility, which is what we need.

If you take a look at Mediawiki, you’ll see a lot of what I’m talking about.  You need to know a little about programming in order to make much happen.  You’ll be doing a lot more work in CSS, one of the main reasons being that’s how you arrange and manage your display.  One other major source of programming is content management.  There’s no user interface, and that takes some extra work, but devoting some real time to localsettings.php will take care of that.  Localsettings.php is the file you’ll be working with to manage your content.  The beautiful thing is once you figure out CSS and localsettings.php, you can do just about anything you care to do–things you couldn’t have done with a traditional HAT.

Categories: HATs