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Trimble Solutions Oy faced new challenges in documentation

Software company Tekla Plc entered the DITA era of documentation for its building information modeling software. The Tekla Structures model is utilized at all stages of the construction process, from sketch design to manufacturing, building and construction management. Extensive and modular software required modular documentation and new technology made it possible. At the core of the new production system are MS SQL Server and Index IT's Indox DITA XML Content Manager.

Documentation challenges and objectives

Tekla Structures is a comprehensive solution for structural design, fabrication and detailing of steel and concrete elements, and construction management. There are users of the software in more than 80 countries. There are over a dozen different language versions of the documentation. Tekla Structures documentation was produced with FrameMaker software. The growth of the material and the increase in the language versions made it difficult and time-consuming to maintain it and required a lot of manual work. "The goal of Tekla's documentation team was to have a component-based content production system that supports Tekla Structures' modularity and enables a cost-effective way to manage the translation process of more than ten parallel language versions (including Japanese and Chinese)," says Martti Poutanen, a consultant at Index IT Oy.

The progress of the project

The material was converted to XML format and broken down into individual topics. The language versions of the material were synchronized with the main version, after which the material was exported to a database. At the same time, functionalities were created to maintain the language versions and apply the changes made to them in the main version. Finally, the focus was on the functions required to publish the material and the formatting and finishing of the material to be published. In particular, there was a desire to make the publishing side as automated as possible and to minimize manual work steps. The first version of the multilingual documentation for Tekla Structures using the new system was released in April 2008.

The system now and in the future

At the core of the new production system are MS SQL Server and Index IT's Indox DITA XML Content Manager. The material is produced directly in XML format and stored in a database. The information is modular and is accompanied by metadata to be used in the document compilation phase. Previously created material is reused to create new topics and documentation is changed in an increasingly user-friendly direction. The system has been expanded in recent years, e.g. With Indox's automated batch run capabilities to automatically generate different versions of final documentation.