Structured content, real cost savings

Employees or subcontractors change over the years. A document translated into different languages might become obsolete, not to mention the software evolution. One will have worked with Word, another Framemaker or Indesign.

This is why we offer tools and skills to enable you to standardise the management of your documents. Documentation that evolves over time, with controlled costs and quality, is a project in its own right.

We have in-house skills (IT, development) and an extensive network of service providers (printers, developers, web services, etc.) that make the thankless publishing tasks clear and simple.

Structuring technical documentation reduces costs and improves the management of manuals.

Contenu structuré

A structured content guarantees greater rigour in the construction of technical documentation.

I am a Sunday handyman. I don’t know much about masonry, plumbing or electricity, but I get by.

However, it never occurred to me that a house could be completely “monolithic”.  Let me explain: yes, of course, a house is a “whole”. An entity in its own right. However, it is made up of bricks, concrete, windows, beams, electric cables and pipes. They all fit together very well and my house – yes, it does – does not look like my neighbour’s house. But I have never doubted that my neighbour’s house is also made of bricks and so on.

Thus, if I theoretically deconstruct my house sufficiently, I will inevitably, sooner or later, arrive at elements similar or identical to other houses of a given style and period. Versailles is not comparable to a building either.

SGML, XML, DITA and S1000D

These are acronyms that seem to come out of an administration. They simply are descriptions of bricks, windows and so on, but in the context of technical documentation.

SGML is the invention of the cinder block.

The “ancestor” of HTML that we’ve all heard about at least once. A markup language. For “old as months”, the first versions of Word I used required the use of tags to identify bold or underlined text. In HTML, they are still used to write in bold. This is due to a convention (see W3C and DTD for the boldest) that sets a large number of rules that are evolving.

It is therefore easy if you do a search to find all the texts in bold, they will start with an identical tag.

If we move a little further in this direction, then why not enrich our content with other tags, in order to easily find different content elements?

The XML (eXtensible Markup Language) standard allows us to go further and exchange information by identifying them according to their language. I don’t want to loose all the readers then i will stop on this point. What we are interested in is being able to define bricks, or rather sets of bricks (pieces of walls, walls) to be able to build a house more quickly. To make “tailor-made prefabricated”.

A company called IBM had this idea in the early 2000s.

The idea is particularly interesting because very “natural”. IBM works in several sectors of activity. The management of its documentation is not an easy task. Image it had to build villas, apartment buildings and fire stations and each type of house had completely different plans and components.

This is not the case, because when IBM deconstructed these different documents, it found that about 50% of the content was reusable. Yes, the fire station has windows, doors, tiles, just like the villa and the building. Not exactly the same, you might say, but the characteristics of a door remain the same: opening direction, hinges, handle… And the rest is a specialisation (fireproof, red, glass).

This is exactly what DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) is. We write articles that are as generic or atomic as possible and specialise them.
If 50% of the content is identical, 50% is not. The idea is not to make 100% prefabricated, but to rationalise as much as possible, as in the construction industry, the automobile industry, etc.

Does anyone still make their paper at home before writing their shopping list?

Rationaliser un contenu rédactionnel

What happens if you’re not IBM and you only have to write a few textbooks a year, what is the point in all of this? A few “cut and paste” and this is done! The important thing is that it goes quickly especially that everyone now has a word processor.

The software “Word” uses … XML to store its files (ODT too, OK). However, it’s difficult to find specific content in them unless you’re particularly well organised. Well…

If we start from the principle that it is enough to copy the previous document to start from an identical base, then things get complicated. In this case, each document evolves on its own. Initially, similarities will remain, however, very quickly, each entire document will become specialised, not in its content, but in what it expresses as well as in its organisation and terms. Everyone has already experienced this with a letter, an offer, a note.

As for me, any Sunday handyman that I am, I will continue to build walls with standardised bricks and will not go back to making terracotta bricks in a kiln at the bottom of the garden.

Of course, I will always have to make sure that I use bricks of the same format, sometimes cutting them, unlike “house” bricks which would all have a format well adapted to my current use. On the other hand, I am sure that my wall will be able to reach a few meters high and will not melt with the next rain…

single sourcing DITA