Adaptable Tools – Financial App Technical Writer

Case Study – Adaptable Blotter

Adaptable Blotter is an app designed for use in the financial industry. It allows traders and other financial specialists to control data shown in ‘grids’, and it is compatible with grids from different manufacturers. My mission was to create documentation for the app, using Paligo as the authoring tool and then outputting the content as HTML5 help and as Zendesk articles.

The audience for this content is well-educated, but not necessarily IT-literate. So the key aim was to provide task-orientated content that is easy to understand, stripped of unnecessary computer jargon, but at the same time, not patronising to the users.


The Adaptable Blotter project offered several challenges and opportunities:

  • New international client who is a friend of an existing client
  • First time using Paligo as an authoring tool
  • First time working on financial software.

The client did have some concerns about my lack of experience in the finance industry, but I put those to rest in a brief Skype chat. Although I hadn’t worked in the financial industry, I had documented software systems, many of which had the data querying features that Adaptable Blotter provides.

Prior to starting the work, I spent a couple of days working with Paligo’s features to make sure I understood how it works. I quickly grasped the main concepts as they are similar to DITA and other tools like Flare. And I knew Paligo’s excellent support would help if needed.

Paligo HTML5 Help and Zendesk Output

Getting to grips with Paligo proved to be easier than expected, and within 2 days, I had a clear plan for content reuse and was producing a steady stream of topics and informal topics. The only real issues that came up were related to nesting the content.

There was some debate about whether topics that need to contain sub-headings should be a single topic with a bridgehead or two separate topics nested in a hierarchy. With nesting, the child-topic would appear as a sub-section in the parent article when the content is exported to Zendesk. The bridgehead had the same result, but it introduced some less than elegant auto-wording in the cross-reference to the sub-heading and it also meant the sub-section was not as available for content reuse in the future. I opted for the two topic approach, as this seemed to be the most future-proof.

Adaptable Tools Love their Online Help…

Craig did a really great job as the technical writer for the Adaptable Blotter. Our product sits in a very niche space in the financial services industry and is difficult for those not well-experienced in the industry to understand. But Craig succeeded in understanding what the product does very quickly. And more importantly he was able to cut through the jargon and focus on the essential and key elements in the system. He asked lots of intelligent questions which not only made the Help docs more readable and useful but actually fed back into the product itself – there is no doubt that the Adaptable Blotter is more user-friendly and intuitive as a result of Craig’s consultancy efforts. We highly recommend him.

Jonathan Wolfson

CEO, Adaptable Tools

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