What is the S1000D Standard?
A LITTLE HISTORY
The S1000D standard (www.S1000D.org) is an XML documentary standard which governs the publication of technical data intended for the repair and operation of complex systems requiring special maintenance (aeroplanes, helicopters and other aircraft, boats, military equipment, etc.).
As part of a series of specifications propounded by the ASD (Aerospace and Defence Industry), which includes such standards as S2000M, S3000L, S4000P, S5000F and S6000T, it is naturally very widespread in the aviation, space, and marine industries, in defence, as well as in other sensitive fields such as the nuclear or the railway sectors.
The S1000D standard pertains to all the steps in the documentary process, from preparing, writing, and managing the content, all the way to publishing. It provides XML schemas which structure the data according to the correct format and guidelines. Lastly, S1000D indicates a certain number of examples to help manufacturers select the right publishing format based on their specific deliverables and on the business rules they wish to implement.
In essence, S1000D divides content and makes it exploitable within several complementary forms of technical documentation: A given action on one element is equivalent to a block of information containing the description of the element in question, the description of the action, any equipment necessary, as well as any relevant consumables. All this information is categorised in a table with multiple entries to form the document library schema, where each cell constitutes an information block called Data Module. These data modules may be reused in miscellaneous documents, even with a different structure.
Ever since it was created in the mid-1990s, the S1000D standard has gone through various upgrades to offer the specifications it does today, which derive from the convergence of standards in civil (ATA) and military (AECMA) aviation.
Who Is S1000D For?
Of course, the S1000D standard is relevant to the management systems of every industry it covers. This means it concerns all the industrialists involved in the production chain of complex systems, suppliers, system suppliers, operators, as well as the organisations in charge of maintaining these systems.
At first, it was used by leading industrialists, though it soon became the reference for any company gravitating around them, making it somewhat mandatory for any organisation wanting to address the aerospace or defence markets.
Thus, those who choose to produce their maintenance documentation using the S1000D standard are guided by precise specifications, preventing them from falling into the many traps of documentary production. They also benefit from a strong community of international users, experts, and software solution providers.
S1000D draws from this success to explore more diverse avenues and some industries have implemented measures to address their own specificities. This is the case for the naval industry with Shipdex or the railway sector with Raildex, initiated by Bombardier and Alstom.
The S1000D Community
The S1000D User Forum
Each year, the various actors involved in the S1000D standard come together for the S1000D User Forum. This event allows users, experts, and solution providers to unveil their innovations and to share their experience on implementation projects. The S1000D User Forum is a major event for the international S1000D community.
There exist other rallies and ventures aiming to promote the S1000D standard and to share experiences. Among these is the Tech Data World, of which 4D Concept is a member, along with many other actors.
Why Use the S1000D Standard to Produce Documents?
Thanks to its modular nature, the S1000D standard makes it possible to reuse content. It does away with the need to duplicate technical documentation when creating the manuals intended for several iterations of the same equipment.
An Ever-Evolving Standard
Far from being an immutable standard, S1000D has been evolving to accommodate technological improvements. Mainly based on feedback from the community of users and on their expectations, these transformations include making the XML schemas richer and increasing the number and types of Data Modules which may be used to meet incrementally sophisticated system requirements.
Standard improvements also happen when modification requests (CPR – Change Proposal Form) are formulated and substantiated by any actor involved in the standard. This open, user-based improvement process is quite successful since the current version of the S1000D standard is 5.0, which came out in August 2019.
S1000D, a Complex yet Effective Standard
Due to the markets it targets, S1000D may seem complicated at first. One must not forget that it was originally created to address all the issues pertaining to technical documentation for machines and complex, sensitive systems.
Traceability and identifying changes in a document library, for instance, are considered fundamental functions in the field of aeronautics, which is why they are an integral part of the standard. Such is also the case for business rules – also known as BREX – which ensure content homogeneity as well as the quality of the deliverables. There are many other aspects of S1000D to discover, although the standard’s comprehensiveness comes from its exceptional level of performance.
The S1000D Standard’s Software Environment
In order to carry out a documentation project using the S1000D standard, one must rely on the right software to partly screen all the intricacies of the standard and to access its benefits easily, without starting from scratch.
The ADAM suite was created for this very purpose by implementing all S1000D specifications into the same software offering. It covers every step of the documentary process, from technical writing all the way to publishing.