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Themes, trends and topics in technical writing – that was what the SCHEMA Conference 2017 was all about!

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The SCHEMA Conference was held in Nuremberg on 9th and 10th May 2017, presenting the best in technical documentation and exciting developments relating to SCHEMA ST4 and SCHEMA CDS. And to top it all, a new visitor record.

On 9th and 10th May, we welcomed some 500 delegates from 14 countries to the SCHEMA Conference 2017 – amongst them were long-standing customers, close partners, a host of speakers and a wide range of interested participants. The NCC Mitte Convention Center, host for the first time to this year’s SCHEMA Conference, provided the ideal setting for the ever-increasing interest in this event. The positive response to and current use around the world of the SCHEMA component content management solutions SCHEMA ST4 and SCHEMA Content Delivery Server (CDS) resulted in more visitors to this year’s conference, including a number of new prospective customers. Any concerns that the new large-scale conference might jeopardise the usual informal atmosphere were soon swept aside. That much was clear by the end of the evening event on the first day of the conference.

The opening event was well attended and began with our two managing directors, Marcus Kesseler and Stefan Freisler, warmly welcoming all delegates, after which Nuremberg’s economic consultant Dr Michael Fraas gave a short welcome speech. Delegates’ curiosity was piqued in excited anticipation of the packed conference programme set to unfold over the next two days.

Data mining: from searching and finding to analysing and evaluating

Central to this year’s conference, the themes of data analysis and evaluation were a common thread running through many events and discussions. The packed and entertaining workshop “Those are not the data you are looking for”, led by our colleague Pierre Hain in the style of the Star Wars epic, demonstrated the tools available in SCHEMA ST4 for this purpose. What were still droids for Obi-Wan have now become information that needs to be competently analysed, to improve work processes, for example. In their presentation, Jan Oevermann and Stephan Steurer from ICMS explained how the use of machine learning enables the automatic allocation of metadata whilst documents are being imported into SCHEMA CDS. Since it is only through metadata that information becomes intelligent.

Sebastian Göttel, Head of Sales and Marketing, together with Manfred Mayer from TID Informatik, presented the next stage of Catalog Content Integration: the merging of spare parts catalogues from CATALOGcreator® with the operation-, maintenance- and service manuals in the SCHEMA Content Delivery Server – a promising two-in-one principle.

Not a vision, but (almost) reality: British luxury cars and helicopters from Switzerland in the context of Industry 4.0

Phil Lane from Imprimatur Limited talked about the key role of the SCHEMA Online Media Designer (OMD) in drafting the owner’s manual for the new Bentley Continental GT. Currently only drafted as a case study, the owner’s manual should soon be integrated into the infotainment screen when the first models of these luxury cars roll off the production line.

When it came to Daniel Schultheiss’s slot, the audience eagerly awaited an entertaining and very special kind of presentation from allvisual AG, which is based in Steinhausen, Switzerland. The first helicopter taking to the Swiss skies in 2014 saw this company not only writing Swiss aviation history, but also showing that, in the context of the digital transformation and Industry 4.0, new processes and innovative methods of product documentation can be pursued.

 Hand-in-hand: company-wide cooperation in one system

On the main stage, Carmen Plösch from SSI Schäfer IT Solutions GmbH gave a clear explanation of how a number of users from different business areas can work together successfully with SCHEMA ST4 as a standard platform for company-wide documentation and communication. More than two hundred users create information in the areas of customer projects and product management as well as process-related documentation for the QM manual. Three technical writers are taking care of the SCHEMA ST4 roll-out.

Content Delivery Server – time for boarding?

Amidst active audience participation, experts, users and developers discussed current and future content delivery platform scenarios in the similarly named podium discussion. As well as questions on recoverability, the discussion focused principally on the implementation and potential further development of the new platforms. Detailed views were put forward on all these issues by Professor Wolfgang Ziegler (Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences), Ralf Robers (Siemens AG), Edgar Hellfritsch (Doctima), Jochen Marczinzik (Product Manager SCHEMA CDS) and SCHEMA’s Managing Director, Marcus Kesseler. Whilst Edgar Hellfritsch talked about a practical example with faceted search and SCHEMA ST4, everyone agreed that the essential approach to handling (large) databases in future is to first establish a valid foundation. “Clean” mapping and a sound classification of metadata are minimum requirements.

Questions from the audience focused on future content delivery requirements with regard to big data and the use of AI. Everyone on the panel of experts agreed that, when dealing with big data, the connection with content delivery is relatively weak, as the data quantities required are usually unavailable. A combination of analytically acquired data and semantically enriched content would be conceivable.

There was also discussion on the question of how to deal with new requirements from the perspective of a component content management system. According to Marcus Kesseler, the iiRDS Standard promoted by tekom and developed for automation scenarios could serve as an appropriate response.

A short break please!

Anyone whose head was spinning from all the information contained in the packed conference programme could stretch their legs on any of the conference centre’s spacious levels and boost their energy at any time with the selection of snacks and drinks available. Our technology and distribution partners from the fields of consultancy, translation and implementation for ST4 and CDS provided plenty of representatives who were available for consultation during the breaks. Possibly the best thing about the partner stands was that all partners’ trade fair packs contained valuable prizes for the now almost legendary “Partner Prize Draw”. The draw was made at the end of the second day and winners were presented with their prizes at the end-of-conference award ceremony.

This year’s guests included A2 documentation, acrolinx, across, C+P, congree, doctima, Dokuwerk, ep Technische Dokumentation, ICMS, Imprimatur, Kaleidoscope, nlg, Schmeling + Consultants, T3, TID Informatik, Transline and urban translation services, as well as some “newer” partners including text & form and Dr. Rieland Technische Dokumentation.

A highlight at the end of the first day was the traditional evening event, which began a little earlier this year to give all guests enough time to talk and relax. First-time delegates on their way to the Bratwurst Röslein restaurant were captivated by the charm of Nuremberg’s Old Town, whilst “conference professionals” enjoyed meeting up with industry colleagues and old friends. A few new ideas certainly got off the ground that evening over a beer or two.

The date for the next SCHEMA conference is set – save the date: 19th and 20th June 2018 at NCC Mitte (part of MesseNürnberg)

The SCHEMA Conference ended as it began, by looking to the future and giving an overview of further developments planned for SCHEMA ST4 and SCHEMA CDS. The new workflow automation for ST4 2018 looks particularly promising. In some initial demonstrations, Jörg Arrenberg and Matthias Hofmann, Team Leaders for Development, showed how easy it was to operate and how it provided the opportunity to automate processes in the content management system without any programming. The new version is scheduled for the end of the year and will be unveiled at the tekom annual conference in October. You can read more about it here in our blog, in the autumn.

Once again, the response to this year’s SCHEMA conference was overwhelming. As wide as the range of today’s requirements may be for technical writing and documentation, there is an equally wide range of approaches to meet these challenges. Participants from various disciplines and industries are working in close partnership to hone ways to provide, connect and use solutions, information and data intelligently. You can also find information on content and experience some of the conference atmosphere on Twitter (#schemacon) and on the SCHEMA Facebook page.

We look forward to seeing you again at the SCHEMA Conference 2018, on 19th and 20th June in Nuremberg!

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