Adobe Systems has released Technical Communications Suite 4, the latest upgrade to its Technical Communications Suite authoring/publishing toolkit aimed at technical writers, help authors and instructional designers. The new release of the suite includes updated versions of core components Adobe FrameMaker 11, Adobe RoboHelp 10, Adobe Illustrator CS6, Adobe Captivate 6, Adobe Presenter 8 and Adobe Acrobat XPro.

In addition, Adobe Technical Communications Suite 4 offers native XML/Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) support, which the company says will aid the creation of standards-compliant technical content. The suite also publishes to formats such as multiscreen HTML5, eBook and native mobile apps in order to better support content authoring on tablets and smartphones.

Structured Authoring Prompts Upgrade

In a recent webinar Adobe hosted to explain the rationale behind and functionality of Technical Communications Suite 4, the company said two key trends motivated the latest upgrade: a general movement toward structured authoring (creating technical content with software that automatically verifies documents conform to preset rules and schema), and the rapidly increasing penetration of mobile devices. 

According to Adobe research, only 15% of technical content creators were performing structured authoring in 2008, but that figure jumped to 42% in 2011, with another 28% planning to perform structured authoring. This means 70% of technical content creators may be performing structured authoring in the near future. In addition, structured authoring is popular among small-to-mid-sized businesses (SMBs) as well as large enterprises.

Mobile Also a Key Factor

In terms of rapid mobile penetration, Adobe data shows that more smartphones now ship than PCs, and annual tablet shipments have rapidly grown from 19 million to 70 million in the past couple of years. Combined, smartphones and tablets account for 60% of all computing devices shipped.

Furthermore, Adobe said that as consumer attention span continues to decrease as a result of the continuing increase in distractions from a plethora of devices, content now needs to be more rich and engaging, which is easier to accomplish with the structured authoring capabilities Technical Communications Suite 4 provides.

Adobe Technical Communication Suite 4, Adobe FrameMaker 11 and Adobe RoboHelp 10 are immediately available in English, French, German and Japanese versions through Adobe Authorized Resellers and the Adobe Store. Estimated street price for Technical Communication Suite 4 is US$ 1899 (upgrades from US$ 799). Adobe FrameMaker 11 and Adobe RoboHelp 10 are also available as standalone products for an estimated street price of US$ 999 each (upgrades from US$ 399).