This year I am celebrating 10 years with Absolute Data Group (ADG). I think the statement “time flies” can certainly be applied.
When I first started at ADG, S1000D Issue 3.0 had just been released a few months earlier and therefore was still very new. Subsequently most of the projects that were actively using S1000D were in the aviation or defense industries. Many of these projects were still using SGML, but there were clients actively working towards moving to Issue 3.0 XML.
Since then, Issues 4.0, 4.1 and 4.2 have been released and the implementation of S1000D for projects has grown substantially. In conjunction with the S1000D releases, there has also been the implementation of Shipdex and Raildex. These implementations have certainly assisted with the growth of S1000D as the methodology used for technical documentation creation, management and deployment. The use of S1000D now can be used by any industry where documentation is required.
Using S1000D as the base for all technical documentation really does show that the “write it once, use it many times” motto is very true. The extensions that have become available in the later versions of S1000D provide powerful capabilities, especially with the introduction of Common Information Repositories (CIR). These provide the ability to have small “mini databases” for tools, consumables, spares, warnings and cautions. They provide the ability to store content in a single location but reuse it across many pieces of content. If updates are required then you need only update the CIR and this information will be reflected in all of the Data Modules that use that content.
In addition to learning the various versions of the S1000D specification over the last 10 years, I have also been heavily involved in the development of XSLT’s and XSL-FO’s to achieve publishing and deployment goals of S1000D content. In my first few projects, I found the XSLTs and FOs to be more of a challenge to get my head around than the specification itself. However after that initial learning period I have found these stylesheets to be one of the key tasks that I really enjoy. (Yep, put the crazy hat on here!) The ability to control the presentation of content to ensure the customers desired output and functionality always provides me with a great sense of achievement.
Working with our customers on their global delivery requirements along with assisting them with their S1000D specification and R4i Software education is extremely satisfying. That feeling of helping a team with their journey from knowing little or nothing about the specification, through to delivering their expected outcomes to their end customer gives me the motivation to want to continue to do this for at least another 10 years.
These days, I look forward to the release of each new version of S1000D. The next version is scheduled for 2019, so we will sit back and see what we get. In addition to this release, there will be changes in the R4i Suite to support the S1000D updates.
As I write this blog, I am in Canada, helping a client start an S1000D project. The last 10 years have been an exciting roller coaster of travel, training and technology. I wonder where S1000D will take me in the next 10 years!
Absolute Data Group/OneStrand