Checking specific content across multiple guides in a documentation suite

If you have multiple documents in a doc suite and wish to check one or more content strings across them, read on to find out how you can do it using Adobe Acrobat.

Possible scenarios when you may need to do this are locating mentions of:

  • Product terminology for editorial or legal review.
  • Companies’ trademarks and third-party terms to check if proper symbols are applied or not. Or to apply them in the first place.
  • Product name/version in all docs, to update branding/versioning.
  • A feature or a keyword to do bug fixes across documents.
  • Keywords and related words for SEO purposes.
Use cases for searching content across docs napkin

Use cases for searching content across docs

Following are the various methods I use to achieve the search, indexing, and exporting search results for further action.

Method1

The simplest possible method is to dump all the files in a parent folder and run full text search from Windows explorer on the parent folder. Things to remember:

  • Entire content of plain text content like TXT, XML, and HTML files can be searched directly.
  • To enable indexing of various other file formats, install the corresponding iFilters. Get the download links from this Wikipedia entry.
  • On Windows 7, full text search is the default behavior. For Windows XP, to install Windows search 4.0, see this article. Some tips for advanced search are here.

Method2

If for some reason you cannot install/use indexing services on the OS, use a specific tool for searching. Like UltraFileSearch or WinGrep.

Method3

You need Adobe Acrobat and PDF documents to achieve this. This is my personal favorite as it gives a better user experience, is quite intuitive for anyone to follow, and fits well in the wider work flow. More details and video demonstration are in this post.

Method4

This is a subset of Method3 above. With free Adobe Reader you can run advanced search a folder full of PDF files. However, as the free Reader does not index PDF files, the search is slower.

See what works for you and let me know. Share you methods below.

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Crowd source your feedback via social lists

Everyone in the IT sector is looking for feedback from social media.

  • Product managers for the products.
  • Support staff for the overall perception of their support.
  • Investors for the new hot field to invest in.
  • Like-minded people to discuss topics, follow feeds, attend events, contribute to causes, etc.
  • And us communicators for our documentation, videos, forums’ efficacy, and usefulness of blogs.

However,

  • Surveys are now a thing of past.
  • Tracking user behavior is limited in various ways, for various reasons.
  • Doing such market research is relatively costly.
  • Face-to-face customer engagement is a bit formal and restricted media for open feedback.

Listly's feature wish listSocial and crowd-sourced lists are a great tool for all the above use cases and then some more. While lists have always been around and ranks and ratings have always been part of the websites, but these have not been so prominent, so user-friendly, never had such a large user base, and never went social.

List.ly has overcome all these shortcomings in a great way. Here’s a great example of list.ly seeking wish list items from the community!

Oh and you can find yours truly listing here. To join Listly, use this link.

Mozilla Firefox browser addons for communicators, journalists, and writers: Part II

Update: This list is now curated, is social, is shareable, and is embeddable. See it and contribute to it at http://list.ly/list/1g7-mozilla-firefox-addons-for-writers-journalists-and-communicators.


This blog post is part of this series about Firefox addons useful for writers, communicators, journalists, et al.

Previous post showcased many addons helpful for handling content. In this part I am compiling the addons for doing research, taking notes, referring to a dictionary, and translating.

Fx addon Description
Read It Later Save pages to read later with just one click. When you have time, access your reading list from any computer or phone, even without an internet connection.
QuoteURLText Quote URL text will copy selected to the clipboard including metadata about the page (Page Title, Location and date of copy). It provides options for plaintext or rich text copies. Advance formating (available from Tools -> QuoteUrlText) allow users to format the order of the URL, Title, Date and Quote as they need.
Zotero Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources. It lives right where you do your work—in the web browser itself. .
ScrapBook Helps you to save Web pages and organize the collection.
Evernote Web Clipper Use this extension to save things you see on the web into your Evernote account. It provides a toolbar button and context menu to add an article, selection, URL or an entire page. Clips to your native Evernote client by default if it is installed.
Answers Answers.com’s 1-Click Answers™ saves you time by instantly delivering the information you’re looking for. Point at any word, hold the Alt key (Ctrl in Linux) and click. A pop-up will appear on the screen, explaining the term.
QuickFox Notes QuickFox is a multi-tab note taking solution for Firefox and Thunderbird that employs the integrated bookmarks system or a single sqlite database to store notes. That is, if you already have either a bookmarks synchronization add-on (e.g.: XMarks) or a file synchronization software (e.g.: Dropbox, SugarSync, Syncplicity), your notes will be synchronized automatically, no more setups!.
Diigo Toolbar Enable multi-color highlighter and post-it notes as your reading aids; Capture the whole page or any portion to share or archive; Save everything online to allow access anywhere. See Youtube http://bit.ly/g5GvDw.
Diigolet Diigo addon, described above, is a full-featured toolbar for power users. If you like a light-weight solution, you may prefer Diigolet instead.
Dictionary – Reference.com Dictionary definitions at your fingertips.
Dictionary.com Select word, click on toolbar button and tab will open with explanation on dictionary.com. With this add on you can look up words in dictionary and thesaurus at dictionary.com and thesaurus.com or check the spelling at spellcheck.net.
ImTranslator – Online Translator, Dictionary, TTS ImTranslator provides the access to online translation powered by Babylon, Google, Microsoft and other translation engines for over 50 languages. ImTranslator includes dictionary, text-to-speech, virtual keyboard, spell checker, back translation.
Wiktionary and Google Translate (formerly Google Dictionary and Google Translate) In-line dictionary for any word you point to or double-click; whole page translation of any web page in another language.
FoxLingo – Translator / Dictionary Web page and text translator, dictionary, grammar checker, auto translation, text-to-speech, and language learning services. Supports over 3,000 unique language pairs and 31 online translators, including Google Translate, Wikipedia, and Babylon. Languages: Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian.
WhiteSmoke Dictionary Utilities Find definition, translation and check grammar for the selected text using WhiteSmoke online service.
Dictionary Search a word in various dictionary sites. You may select a word on a page and right click to search or copy/paste into the box in the status bar.
Dictionary Switcher Toggles dictionaries automatically or manually and displays the currently selected one. By default, dictionary switcher was added to the status bar, but it is not present in most Mozilla browsers newer than FireFox 3.6. To use dictionary switcher in them, it must be dragged from the toolbar customization palette and dropped on the preferred area of the user interface.
British English Dictionary This extension packages David Bartlett’s British English Dictionary R1.19 for Firefox, Thunderbird and SeaMonkey.
Dictionary Tooltip Press ctrl+shift+K (or) double-click to see its meaning. This extension is ideal for those who doesn’t like to switch their window to see the meaning of a word.
Urban Dictionary Search using Urban Dictionary. Urban Dictionary is the slang dictionary you wrote. Define your world.
Lexiology.com Dictionary Lexiology.com Dictionary of American English: This dictionary has a very nice Web 2.0 browse interface. It contains definitions/meanings, audio, phonetics, usages and other information. Searched word can be added in the personal word-list.
Google Dictionary Google Dictionary is a dictionary service introduced by Google on December 2009, and is now used by Google as the default dictionary. This search plugin looks up the definition of a term using the English version of Google Dictionary.
SnappyWords Visual Dictionary Snappy Words is an online interactive dictionary and thesaurus that helps you find meaning of words and draw connections of other associated words. Type a word to find other associated words and their meanings as they branch of from the main word. It’s a great way to learn new words, quick definitions and discover associated terms in a visual interactive display.
Techopedia.com Dictionary Search Allows you to easily search definitions and articles on Techopedia’s IT dictionary.
HyperTranslate Advanced inline translator: Select the text then press selected key to translate selection.
Easy Google Translate (Now Talking!) Translate the selected text quickly and easily. Just select text and press ‘CTRL’ 2 times and DONE!!! Your translation will appear above the mouse in a balloon with a button to talk your translation. Quick and Easy!
Gesture Translate With Gesture Translate you can translate any text in a webpage just by full circle or zig and zag mouse movements. The translated text will be showed in the status bar.
gTranslate With gTranslate you can translate any text in a webpage just by selecting and right-clicking over it. The extension uses the Google translation services to translate the text.
gTranslate With gTranslate you can translate any text in a webpage just by selecting and right-clicking over it. The extension uses the Google translation services to translate the text.
My Translator (Google Translate) One click translation! Select text and get translation directly in your context menu! No more digging in menus, or any other hard ways! . Unlike others this one is really intuitive and useful, still left simple.
Facebook Translate Translate status updates and comments on Facebook. Seamlessly integrates into Facebook.

Do share your favorite addons for researching and note taking in the comments below.

Mozilla Firefox browser addons for communicators, journalists, and writers: Part I

Update: This list is now curated, is social, is shareable, and is embeddable. See it and contribute to it at http://list.ly/list/1g7-mozilla-firefox-addons-for-writers-journalists-and-communicators.


 

Being a long-time power user of various browsers, you can safely believe me when I swear by Mozilla Firefox 🙂 Sure it is a tad bit slower to start, but once it is up and running, Fx is quite a power horse. And the browser itself is just a framework, or a platform on top of which the community has created plugins, popularly called addons, which are the real power horses.

In this series of blog posts I shall present consolidate and categorize the various addons for writers, communicators, journalists, Information architects, and others. From gaining control of your text to keeping your work safe and sound, all the essential Fx addons are compiled here. No fillers. Just the real juice!

For first part I am covering below, the addons helpful in handling content.

Fx Addon Description
PageZipper Clicking ‘Next’ and waiting takes longer than actually reading the page. PageZipper automatically merges all the ‘Next’ pages into one, so you can skip directly to the stuff you want.
EPUBReader With EPUBReader you can read ePub files just in Firefox. No additional software needed! When you click an ePub file, it is presented for reading.
CoLT CoLT (short for “Copy Link Text”) makes it easy to copy either a link’s text, or both the link text and its URL in a format you specify. This non-invasive extension simply appears as context menu items when you right-click a link. Fully customizable!
Unwrap Text Unwraps a multi-line URL and opens it in a new tab.
QuickNote QuickNote is a simplistic, tabbed note-taking extension, for Firefox and Thunderbird.
AutoCopy Select text on any web page and it will be automatically copied to the clipboard. Paste on middle click.
Link Gopher Extracts all links from web page, sorts them, removes duplicates, and displays them in a new tab for inspection or copy and paste into other systems.
Word Count Plus Counts number of words in selected text. Can add the count to a running total. You don’t have to copy and paste everything to MSWord.
Text Formatting Toolbar As the name indicates, this gives you an extra toolbar on your browser, but you can of course switch it off via the View menu when you don’t need it. This toolbar lets you quickly format text in bulletin-board code, HTML or Wiki code. I use it mainly for formatting forum messages, but it’s also useful for creating hyperlinks in blog comments, and in other cases where you need to create a quick bit of HTML on the fly.
ScribeFire Blog Editor Allows you to write blog posts and upload photos which you can then drag to several blogs or text editors.
Toodledo Helps you group and organize pieces of text, links and photos (like article photos) for a quick grab, re-using and sharing. Saves loads of time, too.
Copy Plain Text This extension gives you complete control over rich text by stripping it plain. Perfect for research or quoting other sources without links and formatting you don’t want or need.
Split Browser Pasting from one tab to another can be cumbersome. This extension makes the process a breeze by splitting your browser window into two (or three, or four) panels, allowing for instant copying and pasting between pages.
Resizable Text Area This extension makes text input areas flexible by allowing you to resize them as you like. Give your writing the room it needs to breathe.
AutoCopy Clever little time-saver which automatically adds text to the clip-board as soon as you select it.
ScrapBook When gathering research for an article you’ll often find yourself cutting and saving snippets of text from various websites. ScrapBook is a simple, bookmarks-style interface designed to make this process quick and painless.
Signature Every web writer finds themselves re-using certain snippets of text again and again — whether it’s your byline or the HTML code you use for that image in every article. Signature allows you to save these snippets and access them at any time via the right-click menu. Lovely.
Text Area Word Counter An extension for freelance web writers by, arguably, one of the best: Gina Trapani. Instantly retrieve the word count of text in any web form. Perfect for paid bloggers with a word quota to meet.
Dummy Lipsum Dummy text generator.

Which is your favorite addon? What did I miss? Thanks to the creators of these addons!

Find all FrameMaker files that use a particular image

We know how to find all the graphics used in a FM file. What if you want to find all the FM files using a particular image, screenshot, graphic, or artwork?

Say, an element of your UI has changed and you have to publish only those documents which use that screenshot.

Say, you want to change description of an artwork that is used in a few documents.

On a local copy of your files you can quickly search for such documents using the illustrated method. Besides native FrameMaker files, this method works on XML and other text files too.

You can download Ultra File Search from its homepage.

Do away with data copying hassles on Windows

Read on if you relate the following scenarios:

  • A copy operation you started is hung.
  • There are many small files so the copy is sluggish.
  • In a folder, some files are present on destination, while some are to be copied. You don’t want to overwrite (it takes more time) and you also don’t want to manually look through folders.
  • Electricity went off or you had to close the operation mid-way, even though copying is not finished. Your copying operation is incomplete.
  • You’ve run a copy operation; it is taking up a lot of system resource; you have left the machine running and are attending other chores; suddenly you want to use the system quickly for a min but it is taking forever to even open mail because of the resource-hungry copy operation. Now you want to pause the copy operation!

Use Teracopy.

  • To copy data in bulk. It copied faster using buffers and multiple threads. It copies asynchronously.
  • If something erroneous happens while copying TeraCopy handles it gracefully. It’ll try copying over and over but will time out, skip the file and get going with other files in the queue.
  • You can pause the copying (and later resume it).
  • A simulation will tell you the difference between source and destination.

I have used TeraCopy and RichCopy (by MicroSoft), and they have served me well, former being less intrusive 🙂

What do you use for bulk file copying?