In English-language IT projects one quickly comes across the term SME. This acronym stands for Subject-Matter Expert, meaning the people who are knowledgeable about a matter.
Those people are not only important for IT projects but also for the authoring process in technical documentation. Without information from development, production, or service a user manual can hardly be created.
In the cooperation between Technical Documentation department and Subject-Matter Experts there is a media disruption. Information is exchanged via email, unstructured word documents, PDF comments, … The technical writer puts this information into context and translates it into intelligible language and the XML format.
Granted sometimes it would be simpler if the expert directly entered his input into the content management system. An instruction in the professional tools, however, would be time-consuming. Besides the learned topics would long be forgotten before being used again.
Starting with ST4 2012 R2 with the DocuWeb Author an editor integrated in the browser is provided which Subject-Matter Experts can use to write and correct XML content without actually being XML experts. Therefore the SCHEMA editor relies on the editors for blogs and wikis which can be operated without training. So it is not a web front-end of an XML editor available on the market where only the XML tags are hidden.
A colleague called the DocuWeb Author the killer app for Subject-Matter Experts. It is as easy as this: The expert selects the information node via the task list, the search results or the file structure and starts the editor. With the help of a slim toolbar and a clear format catalog he creates his text or works on an already existing one. Advanced users can even reuse images and text fragments from ST4. With a click the content is saved in XML format in the ST4 database.
Subject-Matter Experts are not only involved at the beginning of the authoring process but also at the end. Many users of technical documentation are experts themselves. How can they be integrated into the authoring process? Separate wikis, listings or email distribution lists are no satisfying solutions. How can feedback, best practice, FAQs, corrections, … best converge without media disruption?
DocuWeb Author is a breakthrough to open SCHEMA ST4 for other user groups. We are working on the next step for the tekom Annual Conference. Stay tuned for the outcome.