Confusion in S1000D is not uncommon! I often have to spell out for clients the difference between eXtensible Markup Language (XML), or structure, S1000D (specification) and the role of supporting software (both XML and S1000D).

XML delivers many incredible benefits to our content production and deployments. We can be flexible in the way we produce, manage, configure and deploy our technical content. XML provides a format-neutral mechanism for us to make, engage and interact with our users far beyond traditional technical publication production methods. XML is, of course, more sophisticated than what I have just said here. Trust me when I say XML does not mean we must use S1000D. We can produce XML-based technical publications in a variety of different ways.

S1000D, on the other hand, is built on the capabilities of XML. It is one way we can produce XML-based-content using an industry specification. What is a benefit of XML is often ‘sold’ as a benefit of S1000D. Hence the confusion around producing technical publications to XML and S1000D.

S1000D builds industry technical publication requirements on top of structured content. The aerospace, defence, and space technical publication needs is the focus areas of the S1000D specification. Decades of broad industry input and desires have morphed the S1000D specification into projects’ ‘goto’ specification of choice. Mainly due to the robust nature of the specification and it’s [almost] off-the-shelf readiness to support our projects.

But as I mentioned above, S1000D is one way we can ‘do’ modern technical publications.

S1000D builds in guidance, process, and [XML] structures based on our collective domains’ commonality and wants for tech pubs. S1000D uses the structured language (XML) base as the foundations for our technical publication.

Software, on the other hand, is another confusion area. I often see projects deflect away from adopting XML because the connection made that S1000D equals a specific software tool. Typically this confusion is in the interactive viewer tool choice. In the uneducated mind, links S1000D equals a particular software tool. Ergo, projects make the connection that software equals S1000D. An understandable connection made, but an incorrect one.

Software tools are the vehicle to make S1000D happen. The software vendors need to support both the XML requirements of S1000D structures and the process implications.

S1000D, by its very nature, is software tool agnostic. Due to the structured language foundations, projects are free to select any specialist software vendor to support their S1000D-based technical publications.

We must disconnect the role of XML (structure), S1000D, and supporting software tools.

Learn more about XML, S1000D and software. Watch my YouTube video on this topic. Supported by some colourful slides – watch now. Want more from TDW? Why not join us as a full member and access additional content and more in-depth tutorials?

Mike Ingledew

A trained aircraft engineer (rotorcraft), I entered in to the field of technical information writing S1000D data modules on a major European military platform.

After a series of high profile project roles and the privilege of supporting clients worldwide, I ended my 'employed' career at a subsidiary of Boeing Aircraft after I decided to leave and focus on TDW full-time.

From my time supporting clients worldwide, I could see that there was a market need for an independent organisation that could be a trusted advisory source for those needing to implement successful technical information strategies.

I am passionate about the art of technical communications and the process, software and skills needed in our market.

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