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March 5

Mastering S1000D: Understanding and Implementing the Common Source Database (CSDB)

Mastering S1000D-Common Source Database
So, you’re a tech pubs manager and you’ve been handed a project that requires the use of S1000D. Where do you start? You may have a bigger issue. If your company has never used S1000D before, the start requires more than just you, the tech pubs manager.

S1000D requires a level of overhead that needs to be in place before your team can even begin authoring content.

What do you need?
First, let’s look at what S1000D really is. As the cover page of the specification says, “S1000D is an international specification for the production of technical publications using a common source database.”

What does all this mean?
S1000D addresses the entire life cycle of information management, not just the exchange of this information. S1000D has the same concept as most technical data publications specifications, XML, and the schemas that dictate the structure of the XML. Yet, S1000D breaks that XML down into very discrete pieces of information called Data Modules (DMs).

These DMs are stored in what’s called a common source database, or CSDB. Hence the name of the specification. A CSDB can be as simple as storing your DMs (and all other content objects) in a folder on your computer, in a hierarchical fashion that makes sense to your publication.

It can also be a piece of software that stores your publication objects and manages them throughout the life cycle of your project. S1000D has laid out that entire process and this type of CSDB will help you walk through the making of publication in a structured fashion.

What is a CSDB then and why is it important?
The CSDB stores all the information objects used to produce a project’s technical publications.

What type of information objects are there?
We’ve spoke about DMs. There are also:

  • Illustrations and other multimedia associated with those DMs.
    • Figures, diagrams, videos, animations, and audio files.
  • Publication Modules (PMs)
    • The PM manages the publishing of a technical publication. The PM lists each DM in the order in which the publication will be delivered to the end user.
  • Comments
    • The comment DM is a way for reviewers to report errors during the quality assurance process.
  • Data Dispatch Notes (DDNs)
    • The DDN is part of the delivery package that describes the contents. It lists all the items that are included in the delivery package.

These are just a few of the objects you’ll find in the CSDB. We left off the Data Management Requirements List (DMRL) and the Business Rules Exchange (BREX) DMs. We will go into detail on those in a future article. They each deserve their own discussion. Without these two objects at the beginning, you may be setting your project up for failure.

If you have a question, need more help with S1000D CSDBs, or would like more information on how to implement a CSDB, we’re here to help.