ST4 2016: Even more modular and flexible

Our component content management system SCHEMA ST4 is soon going to have the next version leap. It will be called soon SCHEMA ST4 2016. In my last post with a roundtrip of the novelties, I have presented the new user interface. Today I would like to take a glance with you beneath the user interface of ST4 2016, expressed more precisely, the Information model.

For you as an ST4 user every expansion of the information model means: You can do even more. You can use the basic concepts of reuse and modularization in a more targeted manner. You obtain more control over the database and at the same time you are able to work more flexibly. Below you can find the facts on this:

Comment with all the trimmings
You have been able to use comments in ST4 already for a long time. Logically, a demanding authoring process can hardly manage without this form of metacommunication.

For ST4 2016 we have expanded this feature into a central feature. This reveals to you already the menu bar of the editor Word, which now clearly contains more clickable elements.

Vertieb Comments in english WORD

For your Technical Documentation department the following means added value:

  • For the comments there are two Workflow statuses, namely: accepted and rejected. This gives you the possibility to integrate comments directly in your standardized work processes.
  • With the function Answer comment you can comment on comments and therefore, develop the comment function into a real dialog instrument.
  • With the new comment function it is now for you possible to write alternative text suggestions directly “on” the original text (Comment text selection). If the suggestion is to be adopted, with one click on Integrate comment, the whole thing is already settled. Even without using many (commentating) words.
  • What you cannot see from the screenshot: You have additionally the possibility to set a type for comments. Which classification you use as a Technical Documentation department is all your choice. Moreover, for the productions you can define which comments are to be output and which not.

Now also in Groups: Text nodes, Fragments and Document Resources
For graphics there is this feature already: Graphics for which you need a particular variant according to the context of utilization can be managed together as group nodes. By using a filter, you can define which graphic will be used by ST4 for the production.

We have expanded this ability to build groups in ST4 for further elements. Namely text nodes, fragments and document resources. Here a little example, first the image and then the explanation:

Handbook project clean screenshot - Kopie

You are managing the handbook for many variants of an installation together in an ST4 project. Chapter 2.1 (“Designated use”) differs in its content, depending on which installation it is. Therefore, for this chapter you require a separate node for each vari-ant. ST4 offers you the following possibility: All the variants of chapter 2.1 to be col-lected in a nodes group together (marked in yellow in the picture). Via the filter, you control which node variants will be used by ST4 for production.

Obviously, the nodes group itself is ignored by ST4 during the production, since it has a purely managing function. Nevertheless, it is a function which will help you a lot in keeping the reuse of optimized databases in a clear and accessible manner. Moreover, it makes sure, that even in the event of operational errors (for example setting the wrong filters), reliably only one single node will be produced.

Reuse level 2: Structure Fragments make it possible
Finally, yet another interesting development which is intended for the power user of reuse. It was already possible to define rather fine-grained fragments, however, han-dling the layouts correctly was somewhat laborious.

With ST4 2016, within complex information structures such as operating instructions, safety measures or tables, you are able to outsource single elements in the so called structure fragments. In this manner, the concept of modularization and reuse is even more fine-grained than before.

Let us take a table as an example. You can assemble tables row by row using struc-ture fragments. Therefore, a table with three structure fragments would look some-thing like this:

Table from Structure Fragments screenshot Vertieb

The ST4 Production treats these modularly held components together as a single element in the release.

In this manner, Structure fragments have the advantage of ST4 that with the concept of nodes, even small reuses are protected from erroneous overwritings, even during the translation process. Users who at some point had to use Conref or Xref know what I mean.

You should be excited
This was post 2 about ST4 2016. There will be a continuation – promise. And if you come to the tekom annual conference in Stuttgart, make sure to come by our stand. We will be happy to show you there everything live whilst drinking a good cup of coffee.

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