The S1000D CSDB is a tool specifically designed to support the required and necessary, often complex, components of an S1000D project.
A question came to us here at TDW, “Can you explain the CSDB and will it support the S-Series specifications?”. A reasonable question, but to answer this all together, we need to understand that not all CSDB tools are created equal.
While reviewing and advising clients on selecting or replacing S1000D software tools, including an S1000D CSDB, I have seen these tools fall into different categories.
The first category is the ‘pure’ S1000D CSDB, a CSDB that focuses on S1000D in isolation and does not concern itself with external domains. For smaller, low-cost projects, this may be an acceptable and sensible route. The real-world of current technical documentation projects do not always have us only within the S1000D stable. We have to connect external domains, for example, ILS, Provisioning, training are all excellent examples of external influences on the S1000D technical publication.
Step in category two of the CSDB, the semi-integrated tool. The CSDB tool in this category understands that external and relevant data exists and we gain a tremendous amount by using it in the S1000D domain. For example, task information contained in the Integrated Logistics Support domain or parts information in the provisioning domain. All data that we benefit from directly importing from external systems, databases or messages. The CSDB tools in this category provide an integration path from one domain to another.
The question, however, was around the CSDB and the emerging S-Series of Integrated Product Support specifications. These specifications will support the processes and database population for individual domains. The vision is to have a digital-thread from one discipline to another, providing import and export data maps. The theory will enable all fields to talk to each other and connect the dots to allow intelligent product support through standardised data sharing.
The majority of the S-Series specifications are still very much in the early stages of development and are still working out how this will work. Therefore, some CSDB vendors will be waiting to see where the market goes and how these specifications will eventually map. On the other hand, we now see some market shifts where software vendors are now looking at S1000D within the broader S-Series Integrated Product Support discipline.
We should note that not all CSDB tools are created equal, and there are many considerations outside of data integration to consider. Watch my YouTube video on this topic to give you insight into the functions and categories of an S1000D CSDB.