Tool Variety in Technical Editing

The right tool for your requirements.

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© fotomek / fotolia

© fotomek / fotolia

In the Technical Editorial department, it sometimes happens like at a big construction site. The most diverse craftspeople work on their projects, and behind the apparent chaos there is a lot of structure.

Like a Bricklayer, a Technical Editor puts together individual xml-based building blocks until the "Docu-House" is standing. Another Technical Editor, just like a Carpenter, arranges text modules in a desktop publishing program until the multilingual brochure is accurately assembled and it shines like a high-quality piece of furniture. As a Plasterer works with fine textures, a Technical Illustrator draws and modifies parts of a machine in an illustration programme, while another Illustrator disassembles the same machine into its components in a 3D CAD tool, just as a waste disposal company. For a large customer, another Technical Editor works on a wiki in the style of an electrician: creating connections, labelling elements, and constantly checking whether everything works. We also have Restorers who maintain older documents in MS Word, Architects who organise ideas in mind maps, and Structural Engineers who summarise plans in MS Excel. Then there's the Stonemason who, armed with a paper and a pencil, sketches out his or her ideas on-site.

Of course, the comparison is clumsy. In contrast to a large construction site, the various areas of responsibility aren't tied to different qualifications, but instead, everything comes from one source. However, everyone has a different personal background, and from each person's previous projects, they have certain favourite tools with which they're particularly well versed. And that's a good thing, because there is always someone to ask. It is important to us that the tools used match your requirements – and not our habits.

So it's quite normal that every now-and-then a colleague in the doorway says: "So tell me, you used yz for x. Can you show me how to do that?" And then you're happy that you can pass along your know-how. I recently asked a Technical Illustrator to show me in a 3D CAD tool how to create and render a specific view. I suddenly had a group of four Technical Editors – no, not in a construction trailer – standing behind my desk. "It's cool of you to show us this! I was also wondering the other day how that works." And so a short question turned into a little How-To Session.

Just like at a construction site, there is never one correct way to do technical editorial work. Materials, tools, and processes can vary, and everything has its advantages and disadvantages. For our customers, we work with many different CMSes and DTP applications, and there are always more. The desired goal determines the process. The path must be aligned appropriately. If you're looking to use a special tool or system that is not yet established with us, we're also look forward to learning something new.

And why all this? So that your project is composed of the building blocks that best suit you.