Technical Publication Challenges
To intelligently discuss a return on investment, we must consider the challenges and cost drivers associated with producing technical publications. In today’s environment, the following list of challenges is typical:
- Decreased budgets
- Decreased time to create new publications/IETMs
- Reduced time to update publications
- Required multi-channel publishing
- Required integration of intelligent and interactive electronic technical manuals
- Necessitated interoperable data
- Globalized workforce and need to interchange content with partners and customers
Requirements around interoperability, content reuse, and multi-channel publishing very quickly point us toward using XML effectively. And more specifically, toward the standard developed to address these challenges for the aerospace and defense industries: S1000D.
The Promise of S1000D
S1000D is an international specification for procuring and producing technical publications based on XML (or eXtensible Markup Language). Used heavily in aerospace and defense, S1000D has gone through extensive revisions under the auspices of the S1000D Steering Committee, and members include the AIA, ASD, and A4A. It has a very active user community and extensive vendor support – all of which point to S1000D as a standard that will continue to be used for many years, even as technology improves and user expectations grow. Therefore, it is a good choice for documenting complex equipment with long lifecycles, such as aircraft, ships, submarines, and rail.
But more importantly, S1000D can drive significant cost savings because of the capabilities it provides:
• Reduces the effort to create/update technical information
• Increases quality and consistency of manuals
• Decreases the amount of data that needs to be maintained/converted
• Renders XML to paper and various electronic forms for computer and handheld devices
• Creates different outputs of the same data are possible (e.g., customized manuals for specific aircraft configurations or tail number ranges)
Data interoperability and interchange
• Provides for data integration, analysis, and interchange via XML
• Enables platform standardization
If you see a correlation between the capabilities of S1000D and the challenges and cost drivers facing technical publications, it is because the specification was designed with these factors in mind.
Next up: S1000D Business Case Considerations