Single Sourcing in Technical Communication

Keywords: single sourcing, technical communication

Iris Fibinger
Comet Communication GmbH

Technical Communication covers miscellaneous applications:

So far you needed a separate tool for each purpose und had to use several document formats for distribution and archiving. The xml-based format SVG cleans up with this misery, because SVG allows to use one single source for text, illustrations and animations (Single Sourcing).

The advantages of SVG are obvious: it is text-based and well-structured, because of it's XML origin. Above all, the technical information- and communication-sciences, like mapping and technical communications, can profit from this circumstance. Why? In a SVG-document both text and graphics are stored in one database. This means that you have access to the specific content of a map, a text or CAD-objects describing a technical device. By using scripts and animations one can extend static maps to geographic information systems or combine text and illustrations to an interesting and interactive online-dictionary.

SVG is also well-prepared for international-documents, supporting different languages and character-encodings in one single document. Because SVG is text-based, translations and small adaptions can be done in simple text-editors, rather than having to start the original authoring environment each time.

Access to and serverside generation of SVG with scripting and programming languages like Perl, ASP, etc. is trivial. This opens the door to applications like data-driven generation of graphics, f.e. diagrams or online-control systems for complex machinery, network, etc.

Finally you can use SVG as a replace for several document-formats, among them:

Prior to the rise of SVG all of these formats had been more or less essential to technical communication.

About the author

Iris Fibinger graduated as an engineer in cartography and technical communication and works as a technical editor at Comet Communication GmbH in Munich. She got involved with SVG during her diploma-work as part of an xml research project ("XML + Directory server"). She did various presentations and training on SVG and is the author of a german SVG reference book to be published soon.