Our training centre has once again opened its doors, and once again our SCHEMA Graduate Academy – held for the fifth time – was met with resounding success! Over two and a half days, 12 students got to know SCHEMA as a company and the products ST4 and CDS in detail.
But why are young people studying technical writing? Why are students so enthusiastic about component content management systems and why is metadata so important for our future? Marlis Größel spoke with us to answer all these questions and much more besides.
Marlis, please tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello readers. I am currently in my seventh and final semester studying technical writing and project management at the South Westphalia University of Applied Sciences. In my lecture-free time, I am gaining first-hand experience in the field of technical documentation with a global intralogistics manufacturer thanks to a cooperative study model that is geared towards gaining practical skills. During my semester abroad at the University of Limerick, I was able to see how technical communication is organised in the scientific sector in Europe. I was able to make a direct comparison of technical communication approaches in an international context, something in which I am still extremely interested to this day.
How did you come to technical writing?
I first came into contact with the practical application and importance of XML, HTML and CSS during my business education at an Aachen-based software developer. With a lot of research and initiative I picked up a good foundation in the basics of software-supported corporate interrelationships.
I definitely wanted to keep up with the latest developments in the technical sector, which is why I completed further training as a construction engineer in the field of automation technology at my current employer, where I got a taste of what a career in the world of technical writing would be like before starting my studies. Technical writing is such a varied job that I’m sure I will never be bored. [laughs]
Why are component content management systems currently so interesting for technical writing students?
Component content management systems are software-supported solutions for creating, managing and distributing text- and image-based content. This content reflects the knowledge of a company. It has to reach the right user group at the right time and in the right language so that they can work productively. As technical writers, we refine a company’s existing knowledge base and make it available in the appropriate manner for the target group in the form of documentation. Component content management systems are a powerful tool and support us in all these tasks – with just a few clicks and the push of a button, everyone is happy. [laughs]
What do you make of SCHEMA ST4?
I am already used to working with other component content management systems. That is why it was fantastic to be able to get to know SCHEMA ST4 during one of the workshops and to be able to draw direct comparisons. For me, SCHEMA ST4 is exactly what the technical writing market is currently calling for. I particularly like the fact that ST4 caters to the diverse and varying needs of different sectors and sizes of company. I learned that everything is possible, as demonstrated by the integrated application options of ST4.
How did you find the SCHEMA CDS and what potential does content delivery have for the sector?
Ever since we were shown the CDS in the training centre, I have been itching to try it in practice. I particularly liked that the existing data and documents of the connected CMS can be accessed with just a few clicks and that this content can be published in a targeted manner, for example for the service technician or the end client. I was particularly impressed by the possibility of receiving feedback in real time. Informative feedback is so incredibly important for processes in a company, as it means they can be scrutinised, evaluated and adjusted. I have the feeling that only a few companies currently know how they can make use of this clear competitive advantage. That is why I see enormous potential for content delivery systems.
In your opinion, is the future of technical documentation analogue or digital? How important is metadata?
Metadata is essential for managing a plethora of content modules of all types. The main challenge is currently preparing technical documentation during the shift from the analogue to digital age. To prepare this quantity of data for digital provision, it is important to structure, standardise and modularise the analogue technical documentation. A useful aid for this is metadata, which acts as descriptive entries for a content module. Metadata is currently an essential, functional component for developing information structures and the digital, target-group-specific provision of information, without which targeted search algorithms or approval restrictions in digital media would be difficult.
Do you think there is potential for working with content modules in the context of Industry 4.0 or augmented reality for example?
Industry 4.0 and augmented reality are definitely buzzwords at the moment and are being discussed a lot in the sector. I have noticed that there are two polarised opinions about it. For some people it’s pure hype that will subside in time, but for others it is the inevitable consequence of the shift from the analogue to the digital age. Time will tell who is right. In any case, these new media are exciting and, as technical writers, we should follow both sides of the debate; not forgetting economic viability, of course. However, content modules with a software-supported solution are clearly the foundation on which to build new media.