DITA Technical Documentation
DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) is an open XML-based standard that describes the architecture for creating and managing information. DITA allows content to be authored as modular components, called topics, which can be reused across various documents and output channels. It separates the content from the formatting, allows for a streamlined content creation process, and simplifies the dynamic publishing process.
During the past several years DITA has rapidly gained acceptance as an information architecture to support technical documentation across a wide array of applications. Implementing a structured authoring standard, like DITA, has many advantages. It allows authors to focus on content creation instead of presentation, while offering significant savings in content production and translation costs. Content that is in DITA can be automatically published to PDF, HTML, RTF, PowerPoint, eBook and mobile from a single source, drastically reducing the tedium that traditional tools cause.
Our consultants has extensive experience implementing DITA-based solutions to support the specific requirements of any technical documentation team. The Dakota Content Platform is available pre-configured to support a DITA-based publishing workflow, creating a platform that allows for content reuse, localization, dynamic content distribution, and single-source publishing.
Case Study: Automated Publishing for Operational Manuals
Sullair is an industry leading global manufacturer of superior compressed air solutions, offering a full range of products from portable compressors to customized OEM air and gas compressors. With manufacturing facilities on three continents and a worldwide distribution network with unmatched expertise, Sullair serves customers in every corner of the globe.
The technical publications team at Sullair is tasked with the responsibility of updating and maintaining all of the technical and operating manuals for each of its products. To increase operational efficiency, Sullair wanted to automate their technical publishing process. Dakota recommended migrating all legacy content to a DITA structured authoring environment. Dakota installed XMetaL as the authoring tool and provided training to get Sullair's technical writers on track to success.
To assist with the automation of publishing manuals, Dakota developed XSL-FO stylesheets to publish manuals to PDF and HTML from a single-source. Dakota continues to provide ongoing production support to assist with any issues that arise within the expanded publishing system.
Product Lifecycle Management
During the course of the product lifecycle, your teams create specifications, analysis reports, illustrations, spreadsheets, test results, and technical publications. Each document must be accurate and completed on-time. As products and markets become more global, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep your documents up-to-date with product development and market changes, especially when you’re under the pressure of ever-tightening schedules. Content management is critical to your success.
Product lifecycle management (PLM) is an information management system that can integrate data, procedures, business systems, and people in an extensive enterprise. On this platform, authors can work together globally. Proof-readers, engineers, translation offices and other participants can be directly involved in the documentation process. Your authors have direct access to product information as the products evolve, and can work to the same milestones. You can keep your product design and documentation aligned with product changes to reduce the time and cost of documentation while improving quality and delivery.
PLM offers significant value to a company, by establishing a single system that simultaneously manages both hardware and software deliverables. PLM also enhances other enterprise systems (ERP, CRM) by enabling the sharing of product information throughout the organization.
Case Study: Briggs and Stratton PLM Implementation
Briggs and Stratton is the world’s largest producer of gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment, including power generators, lawn and garden, turf care and jobsite products. Briggs & Stratton products are designed, manufactured, marketed and serviced in over 100 countries on six continents.
Briggs uses the Siemens PLM Software (formerly Teamcenter) to integrate their data, procedures, business systems, and content contributors across a global enterprise platform. Siemens PLM Software is a high-performance content management solution and provides a powerful collaboration platform for the creation of technical documentation and engine service manuals.
On-demand product information and technical manuals not only helps current customers find the answers to their questions, they also allow potential customers to make informed decisions about the product that they are looking to buy. Briggs and Stratton has made all of their product information easily accessible online, so that users can quickly find the answers to their questions.
As a global manufacturer, Briggs is faced with the challenge to produce their manuals in a number of languages. Not only is the company required to follow corporate stylesheet guidelines, the layout of each document must be specifically designed for each language.
Dakota customized the output transformation from the Siemens PLM Software tool to PDF for a number of languages, including German, French, English and Arabic. Following the implementation, Briggs has saved significantly on content creation and translation costs, while making their engine service manuals easily available to customers.