Use Case: Reusing with Word and Loving It


Johanne Lavallée
Ver-Mac Inc.


September 12, 2018 - 2:00 PM


September 12, 2018 - 3:00 PM

Use Case: Reusing with Word and Loving It

Johanne Lavallée started working for Ver-Mac, a 60-year old small company that builds equipment for work zones such as variable message signs and arrowboards, controllable with touch screens, smart phones and fleet management software. The management mandated her to find a reuse solution. The starting point was the Atlanta 2013 STC Summit where the initial goal was to find out if DITA was the answer. Johanne selected every relevant session on DITA and reuse, and visited many vendors. She will discuss what that was like in 2013.

The work of Mark Lewis and solutions brought back from Summit along with a careful analysis of the needs and restrictions of the small company, led to choosing Word. Using SmartDocs to create topic-based content and a local SharePoint to keep the snippets, variables and conditions, Johanne managed to setup the technical documentation for the whole company and discovered she could reuse 70% and sometimes build whole manuals in two days.

This use case also shows quickly what kind of problems need to be addressed when doing documentation in French and English with variables and snippets. How to make snippets work for multiple models with the same master document, when some have less steps. You will also find out about the best practices, and the simplicity (no taxonomy) when reusing in this type of solution.

The three takeaways for this session:

  • The advantages and inconveniences of using Word and a Sharepoint as a main writing tool.
  • Findings on reuse to make a snippet work for different models and different languages.
  • One scenario to plan and organize a content strategy as a lone writer.

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