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How-to guide for keeping maintenance manuals mission-critical

When it comes to valuable information, no one disputes the critical nature of the content of aircraft maintenance manuals.

Continental Airlines has implemented a new XML content creation system to improve the production and revision of its technical publications.

The airlines is using the new platform to edit and manage the life cycle of its maintenance manuals, internal maintenance procedures, illustrated parts catalogs and maintenance training documents. Through XML technology, Continental digitally delivers the thousands of pages of mission-critical technical documentation that it must regularly produce and revise.

The solution the airlines adopted integrates Softquad Software's XML-enabling software, called XMetaL, with Documentum 's content management platform 4i.

"We were impressed with the solution's authoring environment," says Patrick Tourais, manager of systems and training for Continental. "After about a week or so of using the product, our technical writers were up to speed. Even casual computer users are coming along nicely."

Efficiency also improved immediately, says Tourais. "Because our technical writers are working directly in XML," he explains, "they can now concentrate on the technical content rather than worrying about how it should be formatted. We can use our text in more than one place, cutting the time to delivery and ensuring the consistency of the information we produce."

"One of the barriers to the wide-scale adoption of XML has been the difficulty engineers and technical writers have had working with the format, says Roberto Drassinower, president and CEO of SoftQuad. "As a result, teams of document specialists have been required to convert information created in another format into XML."

In Continental Airlines' system, XMetaL was customized by Creative Concepts Corporation (CCC). The integrator used the XML-enabling software's API and tag insertion methods to produce valid XML, while keeping the individual author's workload to a minimum. The content management software from Documentum makes it easier for users to retrieve documents and other content for editing, and allows them to save the revisions back to the content repository.

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