And the Correct Answer Is......

Subject: And the Correct Answer Is......
From: Michael J Maloney <mmaloney -at- EPIC-ISTI -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998 17:51:33 -0500

I just returned from a four day business trip and discovered the discussion
regarding the Graphics vs Schematics question.

Recently, I've demonstrated and sometimes trained technical illustration
techniques to:

The US Army (military vehicle documentation),
The US Coast Guard (rescue aircraft documentation),
The US Navy (shipbuilding documentation),
Boeing (military aircraft),
Learjet (commercial aircraft),
Raytheon / Beach (commercial aircraft),
Plasser (railroad repair equipment),

and many other easily recognized major organizations.

Not once did we sit around and discuss grammar usage. Nor would we.

I am a technical illustrator / trainer. If I have a question regarding
technical writing, my first instinct is to ask a technical writer or
editor... not another illustrator.

As for the advice forwarded by well meaning technical writers regarding
Christine Lienhart's question, most, if not all recommendations were wrong.
(I'm glad she didn't ask how to fix a broken leg.)

Stuart Burnfield's answer was the best. He suggested research. However, I'd
suspect a book (Illustrating Computer Documentation: The Art of Presenting
Information Graphically on Paper and Online) published in 1991 may be
slightly out of date.

However, if I were to ask 3500 writers to suggest a book relating to
contemporary technical writing, communication, sgml/html/xml, and indexing,
the answer wouldn't be to refer to a publication 5 or 6 years old.

State-of-the-art technical illustration involves many components and issues
most writers (and illustrators for that matter) are unaware of.
International data exchange initiatives (such as CALS) are defining
technical illustration file profiles. Below is a short list of file types
and profiles that ARE industry standards and should be considered whenever
a graphic is prepared for placement into a document.

CGM Profiles (Vector):
ISO (International Standards Organization) 8632 : 1992 (Versions 1-4)
CALS (Continuious Aquisition and Lifecycle Support) MIL-D-28003A
SAE (Society for Automotive Engineers) J2008
ATA (Air Transport Association) Graphics.GREXCHANGE V2.2

TIFF Compressions:
CCITT Group 3 - 4
LZW and LZW2

Technical illustrations are more important and more complex (richer) than
ever. Technical illustrations can include object oriented hotspots linking
to text, graphics or other files and programs. Technical illustrations can
be a mix (hybrid) of raster and vector data. There are programs that make
photo tracing relatively easy and programs that produce interactive graphics.

To recommend a sophomoric PAINT Program as a technical illustration
solution is like ---- well, I won't go into that, but it freaks me out.
This is NOT the first time I've read the "use the PAINT Program" as a
boiler plate solution for almost any technical illustration requirement.
These PAINT Programs for illustrations is like using WordPad, Note Pad
(MAC) or Notepad (PC) for a technical manual.

The actual answer to Christine's question is "none of the above". Despite
her comprehensive description, without "seeing (or at least interviewing)
the patient" no proper analysis, diagnosis or solution should be offered.

It's not rocket surgery or brain science, but a professional should be

BTW, the *.art file format is an Adobe Illustrator 88 file type. I was
hoping someone would get it right. I had to speak up now that Randolph
Elaine thinks someone has cracked a top secret AOL code under development
or something.

Michael J. Maloney
President, ISTI (International Society for Technical Illustrators)

Note: Please excuse any typographical or grammar errors contained in this
message. I am not, nor do I claim to be a professional technical writer.

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