SCHEMA Blog (EN)

Corporate blog of SCHEMA GmbH

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

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Already the famous saying stresses the added value of figures over text to illustrate complex issues comprehensibly. Especially in technical documentation figures are an effective means of communication and at the same time increase the willingness to read. Depending on the target group, the described object/process but also the target media, photos, CAD drawings, technical illustrations, charts, characteristic lines, 3 D models, displays of software surfaces or the like can be employed.

A significant requirement for the use of figures is the reference to the text the figure is meant to complement. These references are implemented graphically and in text form via language-independent position numbers and respective legends, language-dependent captions and text containers (so-called callouts), reference lines and other graphic elements. The use of language-independent position numbers and reference lines/position arrow or the like has the advantage of reducing translation costs. In addition these graphics can be entirely created by external service providers. This is opposed by the fact that only the text makes the figure comprehensible and the textual references to the position numbers are often a source of errors. [1]. If a legend is used it is necessary as well to ensure consistency between the terms in the legend and the rest of the document.

Language-dependent captions and callouts have the advantage that the text is easier to read and comprehend because of the physical closeness of the captions. The eye does not have to wander – taking the detour via the position number – to the legend or the explanatory text. Here consistency of the terms used in captions and continuous text must be ensured. Additionally this variant requires an appropriate localization of the figure resp. the captions.

Callouts Varianten
Source: Wikipedia (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windkraftanlage)

Which variant is used depends in the end on the didactic concept and the resulting figure concept. At the end of the day text and figure must reference and complement each other to achieve an integrated overall comprehension.

With the Callout Designer SCHEMA ST4 (since version 2012 R2) provides an integrated graphic tool with which figures can easily be created, labeled and added to with graphic elements. The above mentioned disadvantages are addressed through appropriate mechanisms and (for the most part) eliminated.

Auxiliary Lines, Grids, Shapes etc.

For the “graphic works” a number of convenient functions is available, as known from other graphics programs. Intelligent auxiliary lines, grids and zoom for example make it possible to position graphic elements exactly by using the mouse.

callout_designer_zoom

Shapes

 

For reusing frequently needed graphic objects the Callout Designer provides a customer-specific extendable shape library from which elements can be added to the callout graphics via drag-and-drop. SCHEMA provides its customers with an adequate example library of more than 250 examples.

Beispiel Shapes

 

Localization, Creation of Variants and Ensuring Consistency

In the Callout Designer captions can be entered directly as language-dependent texts. The texts will be considered respectively by the translation management of SCHEMA ST4, the graphics can be exported for translation together with the rest of the document. For consistent use of the captions in the graphic and in the explanatory text the captions can be stored in variable tables.

SchemaMat_VariablenTabelle

The following figures show the user interface of a fictitious piece of domestic appliances in different language variants. All language-dependent texts were stored in variables and translated for a localized variant in English.

SchemaMat_CalloutDesigner

SchemaMat_CalloutDesigner_enUS

 

[1] http://www.tekom.de/index_neu.jsp?url=/servlet/ControllerGUI?action=voll&id=3543 (german)

Author: Jochen Marczinzik

Team lead web and mobile development at SCHEMA GmbH

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