Product Development

Revolutionizing Book Assembly with SIM

7 March 2017 | Team EACPDS

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One challenge when working with technical information is that publications can be very large. Several hundred pages is not unusual and in some cases over a thousand pages are necessary to describe complex service procedures and part catalogs.
Authoring and assembling large books can be a painful process as the sheer size can be taxing to software. XML, DITA, and managing content objects do ease the pain, it is what industrial strength publishing software is designed to do. However, there is only so much information the average workstation can process.

Many creative solutions have been implemented to meet unique business requirements for book assembly. The business requirements and data sources vary from company to company, such as selecting lessons individually to create a complete custom course; or selecting individual part list and image pairs to create a complete part catalog. As an application expert, I have personally coded many custom solutions to support cobbling books together over the years and I know that many other equally creative solutions exist.

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PTC’s Service Information Manager adds three advanced capabilities to the XML authoring and content management system:

  1. Translation Management
  2. Part List Generation
  3. Publication Structures

Publication Structures are the least sexy of the three and the one that truly revolutionizes the book assembly process. Publication Structures are used to assemble information objects that are to be published. Essentially each Publication Structure represents a book. You can add a table of contents, a parts list, or any other XML content object or images to the book right in the Windchill SIM web browser user interface.

Without Publication Structures, books are typically assembled manually in Arbortext Editor. Someone would still have to assemble the book manually in a Publication Structure, but the user experience is very different. To get a sense of this, in Arbortext Editor, if a writer wants to move a chapter to a different location, they would edit the document, select content, cut it, move to the new location, and then paste. In a Publication Structure, the user can drag and drop chapter or section objects in the structure without ever opening the book to edit it.

Publication Structures provide an out-of-the-box method of assembling publications for the technical documentation community without customizing. As a result, organizations are able to greatly improve the process of information delivery and are able to leverage dynamic publishing capabilities to bring products to market faster, and keep customers better informed.

Learn More

Refer to PTC’s web site for a complete description of Service Information Manager.

EAC information solution experts have decades of reliable XML solution experience. Explore the EAC website to learn more about our products and services or review the Product Development Information Services Brochure.

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