5 Examples for automated Technical Documentation

Published: 2023-11-15 Updated: 2024-01-30
Subject: Automation

Technical documentation is a time-consuming business. So an authoring tool that places an extensive range of automation options at your disposal is a welcome assistant. At Quanos Connect, the AUTOMATION technical writing team from WAGO GmbH & Co. KG showed us five examples of how they use automation to get more out of their technical content.

Technical documentation at WAGO

The WAGO Group is a major player in the connection and automation technology industry, employing 9,000 people and generating a total global turnover of €1.34 billion in 2022. It goes without saying that technical documentation plays an important role for such a company. For this reason, WAGO decided to use a CCMS as early as 2009, and the company has also been using ST4 since 2019.

But while working with a CCMS brings a significant productivity advantage, there was a feeling that more could still be done: more information products, more languages, and more content. Content quality should increase and the various systems should be better integrated. Of course, these goals should best be achieved in a way that makes the job easier for both subject matter experts and technical writers. Not an easy task!

WAGO’s technical writing team found the solution in the automation mechanisms of SCHEMA ST4. Using five examples, they showed us how they use workflows to get the most out of their CCMS.

Example 1: Document health check

Not every document created in a CCMS automatically follows all the authoring rules. Differences in how the document architecture is designed can lead to inconsistencies in the output. In the worst case, content is either missing entirely or is based on outdated information.

Using an automated workflow, WAGO can check the quality of the output documents in every blue book in SCHEMA ST4. What does the nesting of the different node types look like? Is the topic classification correct? Are there unedited comments or static cross-references? The “Document health check” workflow identifies these problems and more, thereby improving the quality of the documentation through simple means.

Example 2: Translation status

The translation functionalities in SCHEMA ST4 are mature and highly efficient. Occasionally, however, they can be too powerful, such as when only minor terminological adjustments have been made in a document or only a few numerical values have been changed. In these cases, it is not worth triggering a complete TMS export and technical writers appreciate having the ability to edit the documentation directly in the target language. However, during the subsequent “correcting” of the translation status, mistakes can easily happen,  which is why a workflow now helps technical writers when setting the translation status. As a result, the “correction” of the status is really only applied to recently changed objects.

Example 3: Variant coverage

Working with variants can occasionally become quite confusing in complex content databases. It is then difficult to decide whether a variant may be going nowhere or is not being covered accurately.

The WAGO Group’s technical writing department has therefore created a workflow that checks variant coverage. It simulates what a variant filter would output by generating within seconds a very compact list at topic level that highlights gaps or ambiguities compared to the template. Checking for misclassified or missing content (“seeing what you don’t see”) now no longer requires detective work.

Example 4: History comments

SCHEMA ST4 offers a wide range of options for adding comments to workflows. However, these mostly work on the principle of releasing and versioning objects. Sometimes, however, a kind of logbook that works without versioning would be helpful. In only three hours of development time, WAGO created a workflow with which comments on a work process involving any number of objects can be posted to a “comments collection” and opened again in an orderly fashion.

Example 5: Topic wizard

When new topics are added to the content inventory, the transition is not always simple. It’s easy to forget some metadata or copy the wrong content template. For such cases, WAGO has programmed a workflow wizard to assist the technical writers. It creates the new nodes, automatically pre-fills them with default metadata, and suggests approved content for the template. Content creation becomes much more convenient and reliable, while tedious steps are also eliminated.

The WAGO Group has come to love the automation possibilities of SCHEMA ST4, and the technical writers are certain that many hardworking automation assistants will continue to enrich their work in the future. If you would like to discover more ideas for automating your technical documentation, click here.