In Part 1 of the Shortfall Series we introduced the topic of educating our Managers on what they need to know about S1000D to ensure you achieve the most from the technology. In Part 2 we discussed that the first and essential item to a solid implementation of S1000D is the BREX or Business Rules EXchange data module, and Part 3 we reviewed the benefits and purpose of utilizing Common Information Repositories (CIRs) as soon as you kick off your S1000D Project.
This week we will be discussing stylesheet options when working with S1000D content and what you as the Manager need to know before you start to discuss them with your end customer.
Print/PDF deliveries using an XSL-FO tend to be easier to discuss with customers compared to Interactive Electronic Technical Manual (IETM) deliveries with an XSLT. Mainly because customers that need to continue with a PDF delivery with their new S1000D content, normally expect the PDF to render to either a legacy or defined stylistic standard or specification. Examples might be ATA 2300, MIL-STD, or even the new 1000 BR Civil Air style. Yes, S1000D content can be delivered as a PDF that looks like your good old MIL-STD manual produced using MS Word!
Remember, the defined presentation of the content should be clearly documented in your Business Rules so that everyone in the project clearly understands these requirements. Additionally, the information written into the Business Rules then provides guidance on how the stylesheets need to be developed.
IETM deliveries however are often a new concept for customers, therefore asking a customer how they want it to look or behave is often responded to with a “we are not sure, what are our options?” In this particular case we tend to recommend two options as the default and start point for an IETM first delivery:
- Utilize the base S1000D style IETM as per the S1000D Specification, with some core interactive capability that is not too overwhelming but makes the concept of an IETM worthwhile, or
- Have the content in an IETM look the same or similar to their PDF styling, but again with some core interactivity that highlights IETM capability above a PDF.
The advantage to item 1 for OneStrand customers is that this stylesheet is free and of course so is our IETM Viewer (R4i Viewer). This allows a fast and economical first IETM delivery that the customers can actually touch and start providing feedback on what they would like to see changed and potential features and/or functionality they would like to see enabled, now that they actually have an IETM in their hands.
Stylesheets and end delivery goals like most things with S1000D do need to be discussed with your end customer before your first piece of S1000D content is written, in fact the presentation of the content should be defined clearly in your Business Rules. But don’t panic if the customer is unsure of their needs or what is possible. Some great samples output with no additional costs are possible with our R4i S1000D Publishing Modules! Then when the customer knows what they want, get that documented into your working Business Rules.
Chief Executive Officer