Photo credit: DCL

Translating older data and content to the S1000D standard, an extensible markup language (XML) specification for preparing, managing, and using equipment maintenance and operations information, can be daunting. Developed by the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD) for use with military aircraft, the S1000D specification has since been modified for use with land, sea, and commercial equipment as part of the S-Series of ILS specifications for integrated logistics support.

Successful content migration is not a one-time transactional project but the first step toward a new workflow process. Ensuring all parties understand the background, challenges, and change that will take place is crucial.

Many content minutiae are involved with converting data to enable content migration – table structure, special characters, text hierarchy. Likewise, many business processes are equally critical – stakeholder understanding and agreement, business rules, future workflow processes. Migrating to modular standards such as S1000D also requires assigning data module code, illustration control numbers, and getting users familiar with the conceptual departure from linear information. Many companies rush into conversion without proper planning and analysis and pay for it in the long run.

A company that develops, manufactures, and supports small gas turbine engines was determined to do it the right way. The company tasked content migration expert DCL to conduct an independent analysis of its content and future process goals.

Specifically, the manufacturer wanted an analysis of Air Transport Association (ATA) standard data that covered:

Content reuse analysis – High level report to show where duplicated data is used; where potential reuse is possible

S1000D migration plan – Very high-level report of how DCL sees a mapping of the source data to S1000D

Cost analysis – Estimated cost of a full migration to S1000D

Conducting a third-party analysis allowed the company’s team to secure management buy-in to fund the full migration to S1000D.

Content reuse analysis

Every time duplicated text is found, it is converted to a standardized component that can be reused across different product or document types. It is assumed that front matter is similar across many documents, but how similar is difficult to discern without comparing all instances of that content. With large data/content sets, an automated tool ensures a thorough audit.

In this case, to analyze the potential of content reuse, DCL deployed its Harmonizer service, a tool that identifies redundant data across large document sets.

Identifying content reuse:

  • Increases consistency
  • Reduces development time
  • Lowers maintenance costs
  • Streamlines use in other publications

Migration plan

After analyzing legacy data, companies must create a conversion specification to govern and document the rules of the conversion process and use as a quality assurance (QA) document – an effective method ensuring all stakeholders are on the same page.

A conversion specification creates project-specific business rules and includes:

  • Elements found in analyzed documents
  • Examples where elements can be found within documents
  • Concrete rules on how elements are identified
  • Tagging examples
  • Open items, unresolved anomalies that require additional details, discussion

Data module requirements

A data module requirements list (DMRL) is another important element when planning a conversion. Pull all titles into a spreadsheet to act as a preliminary DMRL.

In addition to mapping the title to data modules, the DMRL assigns important information, including:

  • Identification, status section
  • New values for titles, other elements (more descriptive titles)
  • Metadata missing in the legacy data, for example, tools, skill level, materials needed for the procedure

Cost analysis

Cost must be calculated into any project plan. While calculating how much it costs to move to a new format, it is also advised to calculate how much it will cost your organization if you do not move to S1000D.

Based on DCL’s expertise and experience with S1000D conversion, the costs comprise:

  • Common source data base (CSDB) – holds converted XML files, images
  • S1000D suite – stylesheets, authoring environment, configuration
  • XML authoring software
  • Publishing engine
  • Migration of ATA XML to S1000D

Moving forward

S1000D is a conceptual departure from linear information, turning the traditional book format into a collection of data modules. Periodical assessment and QA checks of content should become an integral part of an organization’s routine. Ensuring the effort put into the planning stages and conversion are successful will also require internal education to stakeholders and executives, to enable them to understand the positive business impact of a successful content migration.

Data Conversion Laboratory (DCL)

About the author: Naveh Greenberg is director of U.S. Defense Development for Data Conversion Laboratory. He can be reached at