RE: About mil/heavy industries documentation standards (short answer)

Subject: RE: About mil/heavy industries documentation standards (short answer)
From: "HALL Bill" <bill -dot- hall -at- tenix -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2004 09:02:59 +1100 (EDT)

I think one very important point about these standards has been missed
in the many commentaries on the original question as to why the
standards do not concern themselves with formatting issues.

Probably the primary function of these standards is to define
conventions for exchanging the content between different organizations.
More recently, they have also focussed on issues of managing the content
in database applications for things like configuration management,
versioning, validation, etc. Having worked with some of the older
military standards that had a strong formatting component - I can say
that the formatting codes made the content more difficult to process -
and still required substantial work to turn the electronic format into a
display format.

Content is often exchanged between technical writing houses, primary
component supplier, system integrator, the client's engineering people,
the client's end users, etc... No one format will every suffice for all
of these transfers if they are managed electronically

Also, in many cases content coded in the same document is often
delivered and displayed in several different media - bound paper,
loose-leaf paper, HTML Web, PDF CD, etc. Again, no one format
description will ever suffice for all.

So, basically, the standards are now exclusively for EXCHANGING document
content electronically. It is up to the various organizations in the
supply change to provide format the content to their own requirements.

In a defence environment (such as Tenix works in), the end user will
normally have a publishing department who are responsible for formatting
the content as required for their end users. Our deliveries to the
client are entirely electronic and must conform to the exchange
standard. Authors may (or in some cases I work with may not) know the
precise details of the end-user formats. Nevertheless, our contracts are
generally fairly precise as to how content should be organized (where
this isn't clearly controlled in the exchange standard). We also have
completely separate standards, describing how the content should be
formatted - we just don't apply the formats ourselves.


Bill Hall

Documentation Systems Analyst
Head Office, Engineering
Tenix Defense
Williamstown, Vic. 3016
Phone: 03 9244 4820
Email:bill -dot- hall -at- tenix -dot- com

Honorary Research Fellow
Knowledge Management Lab
School of Information Management & Systems
Monash University
Caulfield East, Vic. 3145
Phone: 03 9903 1883
Email: william -dot- hall -at- infotech -dot- monash -dot- edu -dot- au

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