Transitioning your manuals from ATA100 to S1000D

In light of the full uptake of the use of S1000D, since approximately 2008, some older aircraft programs now need to be converted from ATA100 to S1000D.  This is largely for business reasons, for example, if an aircraft model is highly successful but was originally documented using ATA100.  The reason for the switch becoming necessary is due to the fact that ATA manuals are typically created on paper or pdf; even though the documentation can be  done electronically, there is the additional issue that ATA100 uses SGML – which was originally designed for paper documentation.  On the other hand, while S1000D did originally used SGML, it now uses XML exclusively, meaning that those who now move from ATA to S1000D must also migrate from SGML to XML.

What are the benefits of switching to S1000D?

One of the key reasons why switching to S1000D is beneficial is due to its longevity.  This is, in part, because of the availability of the correct software; as previously mentioned, ATA1000 uses SGML, which is on its way out.  When it comes to aircrafts, manuals must be updated frequently, but when using SGML it can be hard to find software, specifically for publishing part, that still works.  Furthermore, older systems are largely Windows-based, but this is no longer preferable as there is the issue of Windows being vulnerable to interception; for this reason, Linux is now preferred.  Due to the fact that it uses XML, S1000D can be used with Linux, making it more secure from a defense point of view.   Aircrafts have long lives,  and therefore it is important that companies ensure the data associated with a particular model does not become obsolete and become held back by outdated software.

Another of the main benefits for making the switch is the ability to reuse modules when using S1000D.  Because of its modular nature, data modules can be created once and used multiple times afterwards.  This is a huge benefit of converting; it saves money for products that are largely the same with only minor variations, where much data can simply be replicated, because it allows for faster documentation and creation of content.

Finally, converting to S1000D ensures that the delivery of the content in itself is up to date and in keeping with the times.  Historically, ATA100 was largely delivered using PDF or paper formats, both of which were the dominant methods previously, but that is not necessarily the way customers want to consume it.  Current popular demand is for digital ways of viewing documentation, as it is the way that the public increasingly consume everything else. This is another benefit of converting to S1000D; mobile content can be viewed much more easily with XML, which of course is the language used in S1000D modules.

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