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Augmenting Interactive Electronic Technical Manual (IETM)

Technical manuals (e.g. maintenance, user, training, operations, etc) published in electronic format are becoming more and more popular than paper based manuals for their interactivity, convenience and ease of use. For example, the maintenance and operation manuals of a warship, which used to occupy 200-250 sq. feet of prime area with thousands of pages of technical literature, are now replaced by their electronic versions occupying very little space and can be viewed on tablets from any part of the ship.

These electronic technical manuals are termed as Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals (IETM) or Interactive Electronic Technical Publications (IETP).

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IETM products provide a more efficient alternative to paper manuals with their ease-of-use, cross-referencing capabilities, and digital portability.

Class III: Linear-Structured IETMs

The technical manual is structured in freely flowing format following the logic of the content. The document can still be printed but it may not necessarily match the presentation on the screen. Hyper linking is done throughout the document and the same is authored in a markup language, typically SGML.

Class IV: Hierarchically Structured IETMs

These are hierarchically structured manuals and are specifically authored for interactive electronic presentation. It is “data driven” and the data is stored in a relational database, obtaining benefits of data integrity and removal of data redundancy. Relationships in the content that are presented as hyperlinks are mapped directly to relations in the database schema.

The data is commonly tagged using SGML or XML and stored in a relational or object-oriented database Redundancy in the data that existed in earlier classes are removed. There is no longer the concept of a static page. Content can change dynamically based on user’s navigation and input and the content can now be user specific.

The result is a more dynamic approach to how technical data is presented and managed on an ongoing basis, with the added benefit of the time and cost savings associated with reusing data rather than recreating it each time.

Class V: Integrated Electronic Technical Information System (IETIS)

In this class the content is now integrated with expert systems that may influence the display of content while interacting with different processes. The processes may include expert systems, computer based training modules, interactive schematics, test equipment, prime equipment diagnostics, intrusive or remote diagnostics, etc.

For example, the IETM system may aggregate data from a large number of users input; feed that to the expert system that analyzes it and then the result gets fed back to the user through the IETM system.

Class VI: Augmentted Intelligence With XR

A network model database was used. Dynamic multi-destination hyperlink system was used. Included system-oriented layers and troubleshooting, assembly and disassembly aspects. The Advanced Interactive Electronic Technical Manual (A-IETM 1992) was an R&D Augmented Reality (AR) version of this system designed to help to guide the standards used in the mark-up of the documentation – the idea being a UI-independent data stream.

Maintenance in the field and training were both benefits of this system. Created for, and by, NAWCAD/IST.

Prevalent standards: S1000D

Key Features Delivered With

S1000D is an international specification for the procurement and production of technical publications. It defines an Interactive Electronic Technical Publication (IETP) as a set of information needed for the description, operation and maintenance of a product, optimally arranged and formatted for visually informative and interactive screen presentation to the end user on an electronic display system.

The S1000D specification requires a document to be broken down into individual data items (called Data Modules) which can be marked with individual XML labels and metadata, and be part of a hierarchical XML structure. This permits the updating of single data items without necessarily changing the path down the XML tree which points to them. Knowledge thus classified can then be shared among many publications, and updating of items in the underlying S1000D (XML) document will automatically affect updating of the dependent publications.

  • Suitability on various devices like computers, laptops and tablets
  • Screen renditions can include material derived from data stored in textual, graphical, audio or video formats in a relational database which is composed of logically connected but randomly accessible IETM data elements.
  • Simple and intuitive user interface with completely hyper-linked table of contents
  • Frame oriented instead of being page oriented
  • Powerful search capabilities with hyperlinks to referenced text and illustrations
  • Interactive intelligent schematics and historical record of changes
  • Animated and interactive 3-D interactive graphics to display parts and assemblies
  • IETP includes conditional branching mechanisms, which can be based on user feedback. The parameters are evaluated at run-time and their values depend on context and specific user input.