Semiconductor Design & Documentation

STMicroelectronics determined a need for structured content authoring, publishing, and “Component Content Management”. They chose DITA Exchange with Microsoft Word and SharePoint.

Sheila D’Annunzio has spoken publically several times about their experience with using the DITA standard to produce product datasheets. At the Content Management Strategies/DITA North America conference in Baltimore, Sheila presented an account of their decision to extend existing investments in Microsoft Office and SharePoint by adding DITA Exchange software in order to author, manage and publish their product documentation (and more). You can view the slides here.

In summary, Sheila and her team first implemented a DITA publishing process using the DITA Open Toolkit with a shared file system-based source management. They quickly learned that a component CMS was necessary to manage this process for a company as large as ST. Thus educated, they shopped for one.

The decision to implement DITA Exchange was supported by several factors:

  • Subject-matter experts were already familiar with SharePoint and Microsoft Word.
  • Expert users could continue to work with DITA content using XMetaL (or any other XML editor preference).
  • IT deployed and maintained SharePoint, so using this infrastructure was straightforward and in line with company policy.
  • The solution would easily scale, with SharePoint, to support thousands of users.
  • The relatively-low cost of adding DITA Exchange software enhancements to their existing CMS (SharePoint), made more financial sense that installing a whole new CMS.

Sheila had been skeptical of the option to render DITA content through the DITA Exchange Word Publisher instead of the DITA Open Toolkit (which is also supported). However, she was won-over with the ability to define document output styles as easily as modifying a Microsoft Word template with attractive output as a result, “This avoids the criticism of ugly PDFs…”. She also praised the “artistic license” afforded by the staged-publishing process which creates an editable Microsoft Word document that can be adjusted before publishing to PDF form.

Finally, the use of the SharePoint / Office platform meant that integrating with internal tools and processes would be straightforward. Their roadmap includes:

  • Single-sourcing of semiconductor design specifications for documentation and EDA design tools using the IPXACT XML standard (thereby reducing error rates, accelerating time-to-market, and delivering a higher level of software support when new chips become available to market).
  • Integration with their Product Catalogue system for exchange of content and metadata.
  • Integration to their corporate Web site CMS for greater agility and copy consistency in content marketing activities.