CADD: What can DITA learn from CAD?

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In this presentation at DITA Europe 2012, I try to outline a new paradigm for thinking about change impact in heavy reuse environments. I take my inspiration from the world of CAD engineering, which has been working with large numbers of reuse items and heavy interdependencies between those items for decades. Possbily, documentation designers need to start learning something from CAD engineering best practices.

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  • Nor did Henry Ford, but he sure made a big impact on manufacturing, by changing the focus from the product to the production. Without reuse, production lines cannot be nearly as efficient as they are today. Reuse went from serendipity to becoming the norm.
  • To make the production line work, parts must be designed and manufactured according to strict rules. After all, adapting parts in each particular car is not feasible when working on the production line.
  • In the design phase, required parts are assembled and - where needed - created. Although this type of 3D visual user interface might make you think of WYSIWYG, a different acronym is more suited to the method of designing: How You Design Is How You Manufacture. If you cannot make a part, it is useless to put it in the design. Modern 3D CAD software works like you are manufacturing the part: take a block, drill a hole, create the thread, weld parts together, etc.
  • Along with the 3D visual design comes a hierarchical list of parts required to make the product. The list contains singular stock parts, make parts, virtual parts (combination of parts to make them handle like one item), subassemblies and assemblies, all the way to the top. Each part has a unique identifier, which includes the item ID, a version indicator and an instance number.
  • The product is created from modules, which are built from assemblies, which are created out of subassemblies, which contain parts. There may be more levels, depending on the complexity of the product and its composing parts. The hierarchy follows a tree model.
  • Each item is stored in a database along with all the information attached to it. For each item, there is (or should be) information about how the part becomes available (either purchasing or creating it - which involves CAM data and ERP info). All applicable technical details are attached to the item. In practice, the 3D model is often used as the hub, instead of using an empty item with just an ID to attach everything to. The upward link is given via the ‘ where used ’ query.
  • Car manufacturers do not really like to reinvent the wheel. They reuse the same basic parts to create a whole series of models. The models may have different body parts, different engines, different wheels, different transmissions, different controls. Many parts will remain the same between one model and the other.
  • This means that most of the parts in the car manufacturing domain are reusable. They can be used in many models. Often they can also be replaced by other parts, but this may involve changes to higher-level items as well. That is where version control comes in. Sometimes a part must be changed, for a variety of reasons.
  • Changing a part becomes a matter of extreme caution: what is the impact on other products ? This calls for several levels of content management, not just checkin-checkout but a separate layer of in process versus released. Depending on your own status and the state of your own work you may or may not have permissions to use unreleased checked-in assemblies. Beyond a certain point, no unreleased items are permitted. Releasing is not done by the engineer but by the person responsible for production - who knows the implications throughout the factury.
  • Changing an item may have effects on other parts in the same assembly, and changes to the assembly may affect higher levels. A simple replacement may require revision of a large number of models, which in turn require changes in the production line.
  • Each item is stored in a database along with all the information attached to it. For each item, there is (or should be) information about how the part becomes available (either purchasing or creating it - which involves CAM data and ERP info). All applicable technical details are attached to the item. In practice, the 3D model is often used as the hub, instead of using an empty item with just an ID to attach everything to. The upward link is given via the ‘ where used ’ query.
  • Following the FFF rule, the impact of changes can be minimized. When a part is replaced by another part that complies on all three F ’ s, no further changes are required. The part can be replaced even halfway during production. Example: one SD card can be replaced by another SD card (brand) of the same memory size. In some domains (automotive, aerospace), such replacements will never be accepted: traceability requires at least another release of the item, which in turn invalidates the current release of the assemblies that incorporate the part.
  • The product is created from modules, which are built from assemblies, which are created out of subassemblies, which contain parts. There may be more levels, depending on the complexity of the product and its composing parts. The hierarchy follows a tree model.
  • Every manufactured product contains many parts, each of which may in turn be composed of many parts. Assembling a Volkswagen Golf takes thousands of prefabricated parts.
  • Each item is stored in a database along with all the information attached to it. For each item, there is (or should be) information about how the part becomes available (either purchasing or creating it - which involves CAM data and ERP info). All applicable technical details are attached to the item. In practice, the 3D model is often used as the hub, instead of using an empty item with just an ID to attach everything to. The upward link is given via the ‘ where used ’ query.
  • Following the FFF rule, the impact of changes can be minimized. When a part is replaced by another part that complies on all three F ’ s, no further changes are required. The part can be replaced even halfway during production. Example: one SD card can be replaced by another SD card (brand) of the same memory size. In some domains (automotive, aerospace), such replacements will never be accepted: traceability requires at least another release of the item, which in turn invalidates the current release of the assemblies that incorporate the part.
  • Each item is stored in a database along with all the information attached to it. For each item, there is (or should be) information about how the part becomes available (either purchasing or creating it - which involves CAM data and ERP info). All applicable technical details are attached to the item. In practice, the 3D model is often used as the hub, instead of using an empty item with just an ID to attach everything to. The upward link is given via the ‘ where used ’ query.
  • Every manufactured product contains many parts, each of which may in turn be composed of many parts. Assembling a Volkswagen Golf takes thousands of prefabricated parts.
  • CADD: What can DITA learn from CAD?

    1. 1. CADD: Computer-Aided DocumentationDesignWhat can DITA learn from CAD ?Jang F.M. Graat
    2. 2. Jang F.M. GraatPart-time DITA userFull-timephilosopher25+ years TechnicalCommunicator10+ years inmachinemanufacturingdomainWho’s talking ?Automating AdobeFrameMaker
    3. 3. IBM did not invent reuse
    4. 4. Strict design rules
    5. 5. 3D CAD : visualfeedback
    6. 6. 3D CAD : HYDIHYM
    7. 7. assembly make part stock part virtual part virtual part3D CAD : assemblingparts
    8. 8. car car body body chassis chassis controls controls frame frame axle axle wheel wheel engine engineProduct : assembly shaft shaft bearing bearing flange flangehierarchy
    9. 9. where where stock stock logistics logistics manpower manpower used used ERP ERP material material VRML VRML production production CAM CAM item ID item ID CAD CAD 3D 3D finishing finishing 2D 2D parts parts item ID item ID item ID item ID item ID item IDItem : information hub
    10. 10. Reinventing the wheel ?
    11. 11. Reuse is everywhere
    12. 12. Reusable components
    13. 13. CAD CAD Supervisor Supervisorworkstationworkstation Server Server workstation s workstation s use item A item A release 1 release 1 check out check out item A item A temp temp check in release item A item A use release 2 release 2Managing changes
    14. 14. car car body body chassis chassis controls controlsotherother frame frame axle axle wheel wheel engine enginecars carsChanging an item shaft shaft bearing bearing flange flangeversion
    15. 15. where where stock stock logistics logistics manpower manpower used used ERP ERP material material VRML VRMLproductionproduction CAM CAM item ID item ID CAD CAD 3D 3D finishing finishing 2D 2D parts partsChange impacts item ID item ID item ID item ID item ID item IDeverything
    16. 16. FFF : Form Fit Function
    17. 17. FFF : pragmaticsolutions
    18. 18. car 1 car 1 body 1 body 1 chassis 1 chassis 1 controls 1 controls 1 frame 1 frame 1 axle 2 axle 1 axle 2 axle 1 wheel 1 engine 1 wheel 1 engine 1Minimizing change shaft 2 shaft 11 shaft 2 shaft bearing 2 bearing 11 bearing 2 bearing flange 2 flange 11 flange 2 flangeimpact
    19. 19. Optimized production
    20. 20. All parts must beavailable
    21. 21. car car body body chassis chassis controls controls frame frame axle axle wheel wheel engine engineProduct : assembly shaft shaft bearing bearing flange flangehierarchy
    22. 22. BOM : Bill Of Materials
    23. 23. where where stock stock logistics logistics manpower manpower used used ERP ERP material material VRML VRML production production CAM CAM item ID item ID CAD CAD 3D 3D finishing finishing 2D 2D parts partsBOM : basis for item ID item ID item ID item ID item ID item IDproduction
    24. 24. How we create manuals
    25. 25. car.ditamap body.ditamap chassis.ditamap frame.dita axle.dita wheel.ditaDITA : hierarchy of maps
    26. 26. hrefs hrefs maps maps conrefs conrefs xrefs xrefs where used where used item ID item ID DITAVAL DITAVAL references referencesCMS : chaos hrefs hrefs topicrefs topicrefs maprefs maprefs conrefs conrefsmanagement
    27. 27. map 1 map 1 submap 1 submap 1 submap 1 submap 1 submap 1 submap 1 topic 1 topic 1 topic 2 topic 1 topic 2 topic 1 topic 1 topic 1 topic 1 topic 1CMS : change conref 2 conref 11 conref 2 conref xref 2 xref 11 xref 2 xref href 2 href 11 href 2 hrefmanagement
    28. 28. where where stock stock logistics logistics manpower manpower used used material materialproductionproduction CAM CAM ERP ERP VRML VRML finishing finishing item ID item ID CAD CAD 3D 3D specs specs 2D 2D tasks tasks Doc Doc parts parts trouble- trouble- shooting shootingCADD : content item ID item ID item ID item ID item ID item IDproduction
    29. 29. BOM : Basis Of Manuals
    30. 30. Jang F.M. GraatJANGCommunicationAmsterdam, NLjang@jang.nlwww.jang.nlQuestions, reactions ?

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