ASTC Conference 2021

Conference news...

Save the date for our 2021 virtual conference!


Tuesday 12th, 9.00 am - 1.00 pm

Wednesday 13th, 1.00 - 5.00 pm

Thursday 14th, 9.00 am - 1.00 pm

Check out the list below for a taste of some of the presentations we have lined up for this year. Watch this space for the full program. W'll punlish the full program as soon as it becomes available, so watch this space.

Connect with your profession.
Learn from your peers.

Our presenters so far

Dr Tony Self

A DITA Content Management System in Action

Content Management Systems (CMS) have progressed in recent years to take advantage of the Cloud, richer Web-based user experience, APIs, and distributed databases. In the more specialised CMS (CCMS) favoured by many documentation professionals, the same progression is obvious.

Tony will present an example of this new generation of documentation tools, a Web-based DITA CCMS called easyDITA. As the name implies, easyDITA uses the DITA standard. It also leverages the power of XML databases, WebDAV, APIs, and a rich user interface to provide a comfortable and powerful authoring environment. There's no code in sight and editing is done in a collaborative environment similar to Google Docs. 


While this is not the only Web-based collaborative CCMS, easyDITA does provide an insight into how future authoring systems will work.

You will learn:

  • The difference between CMS and CCMS

  • How the easyDITA CCMS provides a Web-based authoring environment

  • The similarities and differences between Google Docs and easyDITA collaborative environments

  • How file management and “referential integrity” works in a CCMS

  • How document outputs can be created entirely within a Web-based environment

  • The importance of integration to systems working with standards.

About Tony

With over 30 years of experience as a technical communicator, Tony has seen many documentation magic bullets come and go. For over 20 years, he has specialised in online help systems, computer-based training, and electronic documents. 

In 1993, Tony founded HyperWrite, a company providing training and consultancy in structured authoring, Help systems, DITA, and technology strategy. 

His presentations at conferences around the world have made him a familiar name. His company HyperWrite, ran its own AODC Conference for thirteen years. 

Tony completed his PhD in semantic mark-up languages in 2011, and his book The DITA Style Guide was published in the same year. Tony is a member of the OASIS DITA Technical Committee.

Peter Riches

The freelancer's toolkit: a tour of project and business management software

As communication professionals, we use a range of tools to improve the quality of the content we produce. But how do you work out what technology is best to manage your projects and run your own business?

Presenter Peter Riches will walk us through some of the software self-employed technical communicators can use in the execution of projects and administration of their business. He will walk through a range of apps for Mac and PC, as well as the online tools that his company, Red Pony, employs.


About Peter

Peter Riches is the owner and principal consultant for Red Pony, a technical writing and editing firm he established in 2006 to provide quality writing, editing and communications consultancy services to business and government. Peter harnesses technology to not only improve how he produces content for clients, but also to run his business more efficiently, effectively and flexibly. As a writer and editor, he has produced content for websites, social media platforms, tenders, proposals, reports and instructional documentation. Peter is also a skilled developer of Microsoft Office templates, having spent nearly 15 years producing customised Word and PowerPoint files for clients.

He is a well-respected advocate for the industry, presenting at numerous conferences and professional forums. Peter is a member of the Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd), the Australian Society for Technical Communication (ASTC) and the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP).

Averil Robertson

Case Study: DocuZENtation

Averil will talk to us about the internal engineering documentation challenges at Zendesk and how they are attempting to resolve them.

She will cover:

  • The pain points around documentation in the Zendesk Engineering org.

  • Zendesk's growth and the experience we want new engineers to have.

  • Current state.

  • Pilot program and feedback.

  • Why we are using our own product, and the positives and negatives of that decision.

  • What we're focusing on now and progress since January 2021.

  • The tools and support we're putting in place to support content contributors.

  • Developing a culture around documentation and being our own customer.

About Averil

Averil is a Kiwi living in Melbourne. After completing an Arts degree at University of Canterbury, New Zealand, she completed a Graduate Diploma in Publishing at Whitireia Polytechnic in 2003 while working at Unity Books Wellington, with the aim of becoming an editor. She moved into the public service, working as an editor, and at age 24 bought a one-way ticket to Melbourne, landing a role at Lonely Planet in editorial production support. It was in this role that Averil realised that she loved creating documentation, delivering training and working with technology.

After working closely with editors and developers on publishing automations, she led the content side of Lonely Planet's guidebook digitization. At Pearson Australia, Averil developed the workflow for and led the digital production team to build the technical content for Pearson's digital-first senior learning product Lightbook. More recently she has worked as a technical writer in the vocational education sector, and is now the Program Lead for Engineering Documentation at Zendesk.

David Gash

FutureThink: Creating Sustainable Content

As writers, most of our effort focuses, and rightfully so, on the user. But in creating content, we also need to consider those who must later maintain that content -- our future selves!

This session presents some simple and effective ways to create content that is not only useful today, but can be updated later without a major hassle. We'll look at several high- and low-level sustainability techniques you can easily apply to your content that future-you will thank present-you for!

You will learn:

* The dos and don'ts of sustainable content
* How to identify problematic maintenance areas
* How to leverage simple code to ease later maintenance
* How to apply existing technologies to your advantage.

About David

Dave Gash is a veteran software professional with more than forty years of development, documentation, and training experience, and recently retired after seven years at Google. Dave is well known in the international technical publications community as an engaging and enthusiastic technical instructor. In the Before Times he was a frequent speaker at user assistance conferences in the US and around the world, and fervently hopes to see you all in Australia in 2022.

Dr Marina Hurley

Paragraphs versus bullet points

Both paragraphs and bullet points are important communication tools used for science and technical writing. However, incorrect and ad-hoc use of these tools can make life difficult for the reader. Dr Marina Hurley from Writing Clear Science presents clear guidelines to help you effectively design paragraphs and bullet-points and decide when to use them.

About Marina

Founder and Director of Writing Clear Science, Marina was an ecological scientist for over 20 years and now specialises in the teaching of scientific and evidence-based writing.

Marina has an exceptionally clear understanding of the link between thinking and writing and has developed her unique approach of teaching science and evidence-based writing into the Writing Clear Science Workshops.

Kylie Weaver

To come


About Kylie


Carl Sarelius



About Carl



Dr Tony Self

The Vibe of XSL-T

The “S” in the initialism “XSL-T” is confusing, because it stands for “Stylesheet”. But XSL-T is nothing like CSS, and is not much at all to do with what technical communicators would call stylesheets. In this presentation, Tony explains what XSL-T is, and how it is a powerful tool within the technical communication process.

While technical communicators should not necessarily attempt to learn XSL-T, they should be very familiar with what it is capable of… the “vibe” of it. XSL-T enables “document engineering”, which many argue is the future of Help systems, technical publications, and documentation more broadly.

You will learn:

  • Where XSL-T fits in the XML universe

  • The difference between XSL-T and the two other XSLs

  • What sort of things XSL-T can be used for

  • What level of expertise is needed to work with XSL-T.