As a technical publications company owner, I have watched over the years the evolution of software applications to author complex documents.

I recall starting with FrameMaker 4 in the late 1990’s, and saw it evolve over the years. Fast forward to 2009 and I started hearing about ASD S1000D. One of our senior writers had mentioned the specification earlier, but by 2009 he was becoming very emphatic about our company getting serious about it. His contention was that if we did not move into that environment we would become irrelevant as a company. Well, it didn’t happen.

What did happen, was the adoption of the specification by Boeing on the 787 followed by Airbus on the A350. Eventually one of our customers also adopted it and started encouraging us to implement it also. So we set out to find a software solution.

We quickly came to two conclusions:

  1. It was expensive, and
  2. The software vendors weren’t too interested in educating us on the spec and their tools unless we purchased their software.

It was scary!

Fast forward to 2014 when I attended my first S1000D forum in San Antonio, Texas. There I met a software company that began demystifying the whole thing. Not just the spec, but also the availability of software that was affordable. No more of this nonsense of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, combined with the need to have the software vendor provide “consulting services” (at a high cost) to get it implemented. This company, Absolute Data Group (ADG), took the fear away, and made it affordable for us to acquire the software and get the training necessary to take on our first project.

The moral of the story: don’t let the large software vendors scare you into buying something expensive, and charging you huge sums in consulting fees to “help you” implement it in your environment. There is an alternative, and it takes the fear away as well as making the whole process of acquisition, implementation and training very affordable. Just make sure you are talking to the right people.

Ernie Brache