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The second wave of automation: the ST4 2017 Component Content Management System compiles information on the basis of attributes

SCHEMA, the software company based in Nuremberg, is opening up new possibilities in automated content management with version 2017 of its SCHEMA ST4 component content management system. The project configurator is a central innovative tool that makes it possible for technical writers of technical documents to compile information modules into publications automatically, based on the attributes of those modules themselves. ST4 2017 will be officially presented at the most important event in the industry in Germany - the tekom annual conference, which is set to take place between 8 and 10 November in Stuttgart.

The project configurator offers an alternative to first-generation content management. With first-generation content management, technical writers had to compile all of the information modules required for a publication (e.g. operating instructions for a machine) by hand, a working method which is definitely reaching its limits in modern-day authoring processes. The more product variants are available, the more difficult it becomes for technical writers to maintain an overview of them and find the relevant information modules quickly.

With the project configurator, SCHEMA ST4 now offers a facility to assign the task of compilation to the component content management system. In order for this to work, the modules themselves must be “intelligent”. Figuratively speaking, this means that they must “know” what they contain and in what contexts they would be the correct choice. The mechanisms for this type of intelligent information have already been available in SCHEMA ST4 for several years. Each information module can save any number of attributes as metadata and therefore contains relevant key-words that clearly state its content.

The project configurator then makes use of this metadata. Instead of stipulating a fixed quantity of information modules, it works with placeholders. The placeholders are conditioned to a specific combination of attributes and can be filled dynamically with suitable modules. And this is how the publication structure and modules become self-selecting.

As far as the technical writers themselves are concerned, the project configurator in SCHEMA ST4 is a standard feature that can be operated with ease. In standard, clear management dialogues, they can see at a glance which information modules the component content management system has compiled. What is more, they can also set up new modules with a single click if they detect gaps in the data inventory.

With the launch of the project configurator, SCHEMA is continuing its strategy of enabling document compilation processes to be carried out automatically. Together with the numerous integration interfaces (e.g. the ST4 Automated Publishing Extension module) and information distribution technologies, (SCHEMA Content Delivery Server), companies are able to utilise scenarios, which, once the system has been implemented in full, will make it possible to carry out the full range of publication processes in a fully automated way. In that way, companies will also be equipped to respond to the high demands being placed in the context of Industry 4.0 with regard to the flexible provision of information.