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Technical Documentation for Mechanical Engineering

Specialized and XML-based using the content management system from Noxum and the modelling according to DITA

Hightech machines are becoming ever more powerful and complex. The technical documentation for them becomes more extensive and must of course meet the legal and country-specific requirements. Companies can resort to appropriate content management systems with e.g., DITA specialization when creating documentation with the typical information types like instructions, error diagnosis, safety instructions, or error search trees. The content management system of Noxum supports the information modelling and specialization in DITA.

Würzburg, May 15, 2014 - Noxum GmbH, specialist for content management and editing systems, supports mechanical engineering and construction companies in their technical documentation with the Noxum Publishing Studio. Especially the topic‑oriented mode of working of the Noxum Publishing Studio enables the information modelling and specialization according to the similarly topic-oriented structuring method, DITA.

Typical scenarios in mechanical engineering

Mechanical engineering and construction companies frequently create several hundred or even thousands of user manuals - in various locations and in different languages. Using multiple source languages, the documents are translated in up to possibly 30 target languages. Redundant content and thereby unnecessary authoring and translation costs can quickly occur, causing inconsistencies and the related quality loss. To avoid this, the task and at the same time the challenge of the technical documentation is the creation of reusable, context-independent content building blocks on the basis of a company-specific information architecture.

Topic approach in the DITA concept

Experience shows that especially for these requirements the structuring methods of DITA are reliable. In contrast with other information architectures with inflexible book, chapter, and section structures the advantages of DITA lies in its flexible topic approach. This ensures that topics are hierarchically arranged only at assembly time. In this way contents must only be created once and can be reused again and again in various places. The information units according to the DITA topic approach thereby offer a flexible multiple use of once written and, as the case may be, information units already translated into other target languages. The result is a reduction in the documentation creation and maintenance. If special topic types are needed in different specialist realms, the DITA approach offers the possibility of specialization. Department-specific object types can be quickly created and used through derivation of the basic topics.

Guided creation with Noxum Publishing Studio

The editor can select corresponding topic templates for the creation of complementary elements of the user manuals, e.g. maintenance plans, malfunction tables, or safety instructions. A wizard is available for object creation: this object creation wizard guides the editor in a dialog which offers a selection list according to the classification levels. By choosing a classification, the object can be created with the corresponding type from a predefined template. This procedure ensures a stringent differentiation of the content building blocks and here too a high degree of reuse.

Descriptive schema information about use of the objects and elements are visually available to the editor directly within the XML editor. The corresponding editor's guide can be integrated context-sensitively into the XML editor. Relevant passages can be called by the editor by links in the schema information.

Automatic processes

The XML basis of DITA offers the processing for different distribution forms and media through automation with assured quality and makes time and cost savings possible. Thereby typical parts of the technical writings such as tables of content - document-wide or chapter-wise image indexes, or subject indexes are generated automatically.

The editor is supported in the automatic publication of e.g. PDF, web, Word or HTML Help by an almost layout-true preview function. Thereby various document layouts are available. A publication e.g. as PDF can be realized with Noxum Publishing Technology and automated to 100%.

Mechanical engineering projects with Noxum

The individual project phases to implement the content management system and a DITA specialization were accompanied by Noxum with workshops. The goal thereby is to make the functions of Noxum Publishing Studio available in an ideal way for the current editorial requirements of the company. Using the XML-based content management system from Noxum and the DITA specialization, the editors can manage the necessary work volume and deliver the publications in the required quality for all target languages. The references bear witness to the longstanding cooperation of Noxum with enterprise customers.

 

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