I have been asked to deliver an Interactive Electronic Technical Publication (IETP) to one customer and an S1000D Class IV IETM to another. What is the difference?

Before getting into detail on Classes of Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals, let’s take a look at the base definition of an IETP versus the definition of an IETM:

  • IETP – S1000D defines this as a set of infosets required for the asset including description, operation and maintenance. Ideally this information is arranged and formatted for interactive screen presentation that is presented to the end user on an electronic display system (S1000D IETP).
  • IETM – this is a technical manual that is displayed in a digital format. The information included in this is the maintenance, operation, training, etc. The information will be designed to be displayed on an electronic display system for the end user.

In addition an IETM has the following characteristics:

  • Format and style is optimized for screen presentation to ensure maximum understanding. This means that the content is frame-oriented and not page-oriented.
  • Computers/laptops function interactively to provide procedural guidance, navigation directions and supplemental information
  • Presentation of content is derived from text, graphic, audio or video.

Note: People talk about delivering an S1000D IETM, but in fact S1000D deliveries are IETP’s not  IETM’s.

The capability differences between Classes I to V of an IETM:

  • Class I – The follows the structure and format of a printed book, including indexes and table of contents that are hyperlinked to the content within the document.
  • Class II – This provides all of the features of the Class I but has additional hyperlinks to items such as figures and tables. A hyperlinked PDF is a typical document. The source document is authored in either SGML or XML.
  • Class III – This output is vastly different to a PDF. This is like comparing a PDF and a website. The traditional book structure is discarded. With this Class the content is structured more freely. The content can be printed but, if printed, may not match the presentation on screen. All content should be hyperlinked. The source documents would be authored is either SGML or XML.
  • Class IV – This output expects the data to be stored in a database. Relationships in the content are presented as hyperlinks. Any redundancy in the content should be removed. This class does not have any concept to page orientation. The content that is presented to the user in a format that is best suited to the device and is no longer possible to print a linear format of the document.
  • Class V – This output is now integrated with expert systems that may influence the display of content. As an example, the system may aggregate data from a large number of user’s input. This is fed into the system that analyses it and the results are delivered back to the user through the display system.

The capability of an IETP:

An S1000D IETP is built on the functionality or capability that is described in the Functionality Matrix of the S1000D Specification. The matrix displays levels of complexity and advises users that the higher the level of complexity that is involved in the IETP viewing tool, the more complex the viewing tool will be and the cost of purchasing the software may be higher also.

The Matrix is available in the S1000D Specification. In Issue 2.3 this is available in Chapter 6.4, if you are using a later issue (Issue 3 to 4.1) this is available in Chapter 6.3.1.