This blog topic today is answering a question that I have been asked by many customers over the years as they have moved to SGML and XML deliveries with various industry DTD’s and Schema’s.
This question came up recently on a new customer project where an XML S1000D delivery was being requested and the proposal indicated that certain software, along with a certain version of that software should be used.
In this particular case the Project Manager we were working with was new to S1000D and was somewhat concerned when they read that they had to use a piece of software that their team does not have a lot of experience with.
It continues to surprise me that in 2016 we are still receiving tenders that have a deliverable of XML data with images, and yet specific software is still being mentioned for the contractor to purchase. This is complete rubbish!
The customer may certainly ask you to detail what software applications you utilise for authoring, document management, QA etc. They may also ask you to prove you have the software and skills to make their delivery by giving you a trial project. If so, this is great news as it allows you to prove that you can deliver well-formed and valid XML to their specification using the tools that your team is comfortable with.
In some cases, certain industry projects will supply stylesheet and configuration files for specific software with their DTD’s and Schema’s. In this scenario the investment in new software and training for personnel may be more economical for the project, rather than having to develop new stylesheets and configuration for your current XML authoring application.
There may also be some instances where your current XML Authoring application does not handle this type of data well. I recommend talking to industry specialists who may recommend tool “X” is the industry choice to complete this task.
For each project the above items should be taken into account, but at the end of the day, whether it is ASD S1000D, ATA iSpec 2200, a MIL-STD, DITA or some other industry specification, if you have software that allows you to deliver valid data to the contract requirements, you can use any XML Authoring tool you want!