RE: About mil/heavy industries documentation standards (long)

Subject: RE: About mil/heavy industries documentation standards (long)
From: eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com
To: "Broberg, Mats" <mabr -at- flir -dot- se>
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2004 07:58:28 -0500

"Broberg, Mats" <mabr -at- flir -dot- se> wrote on 02/13/2004 02:31:09 AM:
> The AECMA Spec 1000D (or any other spec of the same kind) must have
> taken hundreds of thousands of man-hours to finish, from
> the time when
> the decision was taken, to the finished spec. Since we're
> talking about
> a spec that defines a specific markup using SGML/XML, even
> spending only
> 100 hours on creating a sound, logical and visually &
> typographically
> stringent stylesheet would increase the presentation quality
> substantially - and 100 hours compared to several hundreds
> of thousands is nothing.

Never worked on an industry related committee have you? You have cutthroat
competitors and clients with millions of pages of legacy documents. All
have legacy systems, all of them have their own strict publishing specs
and guidelines. None of them want to have to spend money modifying their
legacy systems, documents, or publication process. Many/all of them have
unions that would take unkindly to *ANY* change in their work habits.

Style guides/sheets would *NOT* be a mere 100 hours. But also, style
sheets for what? Maintenance, overhaul, inspections, check lists, work
orders, on-line, PDA, tablet, paper, quick references ... the list could
be endless. Besides, such style sheets already exist. If you're writing
for the military you can download the DTD and FOSI for all the various
manuals and services. They even explain in excruciating detail how to
install Epic properly with them. So, if you're writing for the military,
you'll use a MIL spec style sheet, if you're writing for Boeing, you'll
use a Boeing stylesheet. Or, more accurately, you're probably a supplier,
so you'll use your own style sheet. But, when the information is delivered
electronically, Boeing, the military, Airbus, Bombardier, who ever the
client is, will integrate the information into their electronic system and
publish it using their in-house styles.

The place for committees and standardisation is structure, information,
and possibly process. If the ATA should mandate a style guide should
Docbook come with one? Should all manuals created using the Docbook DTD
look identical?

If it'll only take a mere 100 hours, let's just sit Microsoft and Sun in a
room and they'll be out in no time with an agreement about how their
manuals should look identical. :)

Eric L. Dunn
Senior Technical Writer


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