Setting the Scene
A large authoring team is moving from their current traditional MS Word desktop authoring environment with PDF as the end delivery to their customers. They need to be able to author S1000D XML v4.2, perform data deliveries (DDN) and deliver IETP’s to their end customers.
We have been tasked with managing the change for the authors, and need to recommend the training they will need. The S1000D CSDB and delivery software is not part of the recommendation as we have been tasked purely with ensuring the authors know how to author to the S1000D specification.
Start with the Basics – S1000D 101
The first step is to have the team trained in ASD S1000D concepts, i.e. start with S1000D 101! It does not have to be a week-long S1000D workshop course (even though these are fabulous). Rather the authors need to understand what S1000D is, the associated acronyms, terminology, the benefits and how they incorporate areas of the specification into the authoring stage to obtain the most benefit.
Understanding the Magic
In my opinion for authors who have come from an unstructured authoring environment such as MS Word, this next level of training is the MOST important. Having not worked with structure or mark-up, they have never heard of terms like elements and attributes, hierarchy, parent and siblings. Therefore taking them through a two day course such as Authoring Structured Documents is essential.
WYSIWYG XML Authoring tool such as Adobe FrameMaker would also assist with this step in their education process. For authors transitioning from MS Word I always recommend FrameMaker as it allows you to teach the authors the fundamentals of XML authoring in a user friendly WYSIWYG environment.
Ready to Write – S1000D!
We are now at the point that the team understands what S1000D is and how it will benefit their project. They also understand how to work in a structured XML authoring environment. It is now time to teach them specifically about authoring S1000D Data Modules. This includes the mandatory elements and attributes they need to include in the IDStatus block of information. They will need to understand common elements that they will use every day across most types of Data Modules, such as Descriptive, Procedural and Crew Schemas. Plus the essentials of pre and post content that is mandatory in procedural S1000D content.
Don’t Under-estimate the Effort
I have assisted customers with this type of transition for over 20 years. What I do find amazing is that the managers of teams that are moving from a non XML environment such as MS Word, believe their authors need the least amount of training during this transition to S1000D. It is those that have already been authoring in SGML or XML specifications such as Mil-Std Work Packages or ATA iSpec 2200 that are the ones most concerned with how hard it will be to understanding the transition to S1000D!
Please remember training is the ground work to your end delivery. If you don’t have people working correctly from the start, you will only need to do rework later.
Good education is essential!