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All the Latest Insights from tcworld 2023

Dec 6, 2023  |  Reading Time: 6 minutes

That’s a wrap on the 2023 edition of the world’s largest technical communication conference, tcworld. The conference typically features presentations, workshops, and exhibitions on topics such as content creation, translation and localization, terminology management, and tools for technical communicators, and this year was no different. 

I was delighted to get a chance to meet and network with many of you at our booth, and hope you enjoyed our CEO, Fabrice Lacroix’s talks on GenAI. 

Over the three days in Stuttgart, Germany, I attended as many of the 200+ thought-provoking and insightful presentations and workshops as I could so that I could share with you all the latest industry developments. Let’s take a look together at three sessions that caught my attention. 

The Future of AI and Technical Communication

It’s only natural that GenAI would make an appearance at this year’s conference given its recent explosive growth and creeping inclusion in our work processes. 

This panel discussion, AI and Technical Communication: What’s Next?”, moderated by Michael Fritz (Tekom Europe), featuring Sarah O’Keefe (Scriptorium), Prof. Dr. Johannes Schildgen (Regensburg University of Applied Sciences), Ulrike Parson (Parson AG), and our CEO, Fabrice Lacroix, shed light on AI’s influence and consequences for technical communication. What are the next advancements and how will we adapt to them? 

AI Replacing Jobs 

As you’d expect, the subject of tech writers being replaced came front and center, and numerous interesting, if at times contradictory, points were made. One panelist, Ulrike Parson, suggested that the profession of tech writer has already changed and will continue to do so. Indeed, tech writers currently only spend around 20% of their time writing, with the remaining time spent assembling documents, managing metadata and systems, and understanding product configurations. In particular, she foresees an increasing demand for working on XML structures and defining metadata models.

Sarah O’Keefe offered her take, drawing an analogy on how, going back to the arrival of the printing press, existing jobs were subdivided into more specialized roles. In a similar manner, GenAI may require that jobs be divided into specialist areas, needing to be done at a more in-depth level. In particular, jobs in content strategy, information architecture and more broadly, knowledge management (defining how information is connected) will be needed.

New Skills for Tech Writers

It’s clear then that tech writers will likely need to learn a variety of new skills and adopt new working methods. The participants proposed a variety of possible core competencies that may be required or need to be strengthened, whether in metadata modeling, semantics, or even marketing (by considering the user journey or defining personas, for example).  

It was also highlighted that technical writers will need to take charge of the content supply chain and learn how to combine the different content silos they must work with (and that AI won’t help reduce).  

Last but not least, for Fabrice Lacroix, AI will demand that tech writers take responsibility for the truthfulness, applicability and comprehensiveness of the content. Without a doubt, being a tech writer in the AI era will require a universal prerequisite: a foundation built upon strong ethics. 

Future of Content 

Looking to the future, GenAI is set to have a big impact on our working methods and tools. New ways to create content are growing, whether videos generated from structured content or 3D models created from prompts.  

Nevertheless, the panelists agreed that some tools are likely to remain part of our ecosystem. Component Content Management Systems (CCMS), for example, will likely be augmented by AI, but there will still be a need to store content somewhere, in a central repository that can function as a “single source of truth”, be it a CCMS or a tool like Fluid Topics’ central knowledge hub.  

What will likely change is the heterogeneity of tools as companies and customers desire individualized and personalized experiences. As a result, “AI has to have interfaces and connections to all those tools, and it has to be independent of the tools” Dr. Johannes Schildgen added, with AI acting not as a replacement, but as an augmentation. 

Quality Concerns 

Of course, the question of quality came up several times throughout the discussion. Will the content generated by AI be able to match the high standards of quality needed for documentation? The participants agreed that the definition of “good” quality is difficult to define and constantly shifting. Whereas before good quality may have meant well-formatted doc, it may now mean that it allows the end user to do their job effectively and that it is ultimately truthful.

Strategies Beyond CCMS

In this session titled “Entreprise without a CCMS”, Stefan Jung, Head of Technical Documentation at Dometic, shared strategies he implemented with his tech doc team to manage an extensive and diverse range of products without having to use a Component Content Management System (CCMS). 


Dometic is a company separated from Electrolux. It faced rapid growth and numerous challenges, particularly in managing technical documentation for a wide array of products: washing machines, air conditioners, cooling boxes, and diverse appliances. 

Dometic’s technical documentation team, consisting of three in-house members and four outsourced technical writers, required a novel approach in order to be successful. The documentation encompassed over 6,000 documents in 40 languages, adhering to numerous technical standards, AWS directives, and regulations. Managing content from 160 factories/suppliers, seven different brands, and six-page formats posed complexities.  

A CI/CD Approach 

In contrast with other companies being reliant on proprietary and complex systems, like CCMS, the team at Dometic adopted a configuration approach based on Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery principles (CI/CD). This method requires a highly skilled lead, able to understand the difficulties tech writers may have, but also knowing how to structure an information system, including tool dependencies, and product variants. The use of a version control system such as GIT empowers the team to autonomously manage processes, resembling a “docs as code” process. In this case, however, instead of opting for a lightweight markup language like Markdown, all the content sources are standardized and converted to DITA, facilitating validation and specialization. 

Git Central to Maintaining Repositories 

Dometic’s choice to utilize Git played a pivotal role in their documentation strategy. The presentation highlighted the dilemma between a monolithic repository (simpler but slower) and multiple repositories (complex to support but faster). Strategies to mitigate risks included task automation through tools like Ant, Python, and Bash, along with rigorous validation of file structures and naming patterns. 

Dometic’s repository structure was designed to accommodate reused topics that were not product specific. The branching schema followed the principle of a task being a branch, allowing tech writers to work undisturbed. Metadata challenges were addressed through a meticulous file structure and naming conventions. Automation was achieved through commits, enabling bulk publishing, Schematron validation, asset management tasks, and Oxygen scripting. 

Convincing Technical Writers 

The challenge was to convince the technical writers to adopt this Git-centric approach. 

To do this, Stefan Jung recommended adhering to KISS (Keep It Simple and Short). The process involved creating a branch, committing changes, merging with the main branch, and sending a pull request. However, to maintain simplicity, certain practices like commit squashing, cherry-picking, rebasing, and handling complex merge conflicts are discouraged and are restricted to Information Architects. 

Cost vs Benefit 

It’s clear then that using Git with dedicated workflows and methodologies can help to produce documentation without a CCMS. This approach may ultimately be cheaper, allowing you to build an environment that is both scalable and evolutionary.  

With that said, having attended various presentations from actors from the industry and medical sectors, I believe that what was a success at Dometic might not be universally applicable. Factors such as the number of collaborators, the high level of technicality involved, management of translations, reviews/proofreading, and compliance considerations may render this approach impractical for many people/contexts. 

Moreover, a commonly raised argument by CCMS vendors holds merit. The cost savings from forgoing a CCMS may be outweighed by the increased demand of staff for system maintenance and implementation. The risk of a single point of failure (SPOF) also emerges, particularly if the individual responsible for designing and implementing such a system leaves the company. This raises a critical question: who will be equipped to pick it up and maintain it effectively?

Demystifying DITA

This panel discussion, “Demystifying DITA: Unlocking the Potential of Structured Content”, brought together eminent figures such as Sarah O’Keefe (Scriptorium), Dipo Ajose-Coker (Madcap), Pim Bekker (Etteplan), and Bernhard Waage (Ninefeb), to provide a general overview of the DITA standard. They delved into the plethora of benefits for content creation, management, and delivery it can offer, namely:  

Better Branding 

Implementing a DITA-compatible system can contribute to better branding by ensuring consistency and professionalism in technical documentation. With standardized formats and styles, companies can present a unified and polished image across all their documentation, strengthening their brand identity. This consistency not only enhances the visual appeal of documents but also fosters trust among users, certification bodies and stakeholders. 

Reduced Time to Market 

One of the significant advantages of adopting DITA-compatible systems is the potential for a reduced time to market. These systems streamline the documentation process, enabling technical writers to work more efficiently and collaboratively. In addition, the modular nature of DITA greatly increases the time to market for new variants and versions of products as only the new part of the document will need approval.  

Faster Creation and Updates 

The modular and structured approach of DITA enables the creation of documentation components that can be easily assembled and updated. This agility in content creation and management translates to faster document creation. This can be particularly crucial in industries with rapidly evolving technologies or frequent product releases. 

Regulatory Compliance in the Document Model 

In many industries, adherence to regulatory standards is non-negotiable. By organizing content in a standardized manner, these systems facilitate the inclusion of necessary information, compliance with industry standards, and adherence to regulatory requirements.


TCworld clearly didn’t disappoint this year and we’ve walked away with a better understanding of where technical communication is today, and where it is heading. 

I’m excited to see what next year’s edition will have in store for us. 

How about you? Did you get a chance to attend tcworld?

About The Authors

Anne-Sophie Lardet

Anne-Sophie Lardet

Anne-Sophie has over 10 years experience in product and digital marketing in fast-growing tech startups. Additionally, she has experience in UX design, social media, content strategy and marketing communications. She's passionate about helping start-ups understand, engage and support their customers.

Gaspard Bébié-Valérian

Gaspard Bébié-Valérian

Gaspard is Senior consultant at Fluid Topics and content expert