Author Archive

Leap Motion to revolutionize service information

June 19, 2012 Leave a comment

A few days ago I noticed a tweet (wish I can remember who tweeted it) about a new technology which was hailed as the “Kinect Killer”.

You should not be thinking about games consoles, but rather of computer-human interaction.

This new device which is reportedly the size of an iPod nano has the ability to capture gestures at an astonishing resolution.

At this point you should really view some of their demo videos:

Hopefully I haven’t lost you in there….

While there are probably a million and one possible uses for this kind of technology, the fact that it is reasonably affordable (about $70 US) means it is accessible for a vast audience and also makes it easily justifiable for deployment within an organization.

What I am thinking here is providing access to service engineers who can interrogate 3D CAD models in a very natural and intuitive way.  They would require minimal training on how to use the technology .  For someone who spends the majority of their day working with their hands (often dirty) this looks to be the most natural and efficient way to access digital service information.

I have already ordered my unit and can’t wait for it to arrive.

If I gain access to their SDK I will look into writing an interface for PTC apps like Creo View and possibly Parametric and Illustrate.

Let me know where you think I should focus first.

Read more here:

Free: Band-Aid for PTC’s Arbortext SIS – Getting your parts list out of Creo Illustrate

November 26, 2011 Leave a comment

If you have recently purchased PTC‘s Creo Illustrate you may have noticed that there is a slight issue with using the parts list in Arbortext Editor.

My earlier post explains better.

I have some good news!  We have decided to make Band-Aid available free of charge to anyone who needs it.

It is almost ready for release and we are adding some last touches.

If you would like a copy, drop me a comment or send an email (if you have my email address).

Band-Aid for PTC Arbortext SIS

October 12, 2011 6 comments

I have noticed that PTC does not yet provide a way to place your parts list in Arbortext Editor.

Obviously this is a bit of a gaping wound… so with all that pain, one needs a bit of aspirin and a band-aid.

While I can’t help you with the aspirin, I can help you with some band-aid.  I have developed a small app that opens a Creo Illustrate file and then automatically inserts the parts list from the selected figure into your editor session at the current position of the cursor.

Band-Aid application

Parts list inserted in Editor

If you are interested in this application, leave a comment.

I have also added a video demo of how it works:

Tandori Chicken Veg (Paleo friendly)

September 19, 2011 2 comments

This is so off-topic it you would be excused for checking your browser’s address bar…  A colleague asked me for this recipe; since I had to type it out, I thought I may as well share it.

  1. Add a dash of Organic Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (I found the coconut oil at dischem, but olive or chilly oil also works very well) and 1-2 sliced onions to a large non-stick casserole and fry for 2-3 minutes on high heat.
  2. Add and fry 500-600 grams Woolworths chicken fillets (or any other meat of your liking) cut into cubes until the meat is browned.
  3. Remove meat and onions (we will add it again later).
  4. Replenish oil and fry 1 – 2 bags (roughly 1 kg) of Woolworths veggies (I prefer the seasonal vegetables) to the oil and fry for 5 – 8 minutes.
  5. Add the meat and onions as well as about 2-3 tablespoons (or more if you like) of Patak’s Tandori paste (I have found it in Spar as well as PnP).
  6. Stir well and fry for a further 2-3 minutes to allow some caramelization to take place.
  7. Add 1 can of Woolworths Coconut cream (I can’t seem to find it online, but almost always find it on the shelf), stir and allow to simmering for a few minutes.
  8. 1 – 2 Minutes before serving, add some raw cashews.
  9. Served on rice if you must, it will make 6-8 portions, but for a Paleo friendly version I enjoy it as a meal on its own (3-5 portions).
  10. Enjoy!

Single source courseware development

April 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Having been a student in a variety of environments, one thing that clearly differentiates one training provider from the next is the quality of their courseware.

The value of the training you offer is not only determined by the quality (or quantity) of your content, but also the presentation and relevance thereof.

Developing high quality courseware is becoming more challenging:

  • The rate at which things change continuously increases and the global information explosion has not done anything to slow it down.  By the time you have developed and published courseware, chances are it is already out of date.
  • In South Africa we have 11 official languages.  Whilst English is still the undisputed business language, the demand for other African languages is increasing.  Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has proposed that in order to graduate from university all students be required to study at least one African language.  This challenges courseware developers to reconsider their current language policies.  Those who already cater for multiple languages know that such an initiative is not cheap or easy to master.  One content update means several knock-on language updates across various files and systems.
  • Courseware has traditionally been developed for only one medium, print.  Print is still the preferred choice for courseware (at least in South Africa), but this is changing with the advances in technology.  If eBooks and the ePub standard are anything to go by, we can expect that print will become a luxury or premium product with most courseware delivered in some sort of electronic format, probably for consumption on an iPad or similar tablet device.

The first part of the solution to the above challenges lies in single sourcing your learning content.

With all your learning content stored in a single, ubiquitous, secure repository, reuse is increased, changes are managed easily and content can be combined across several courses while still only updating the source in one place.

The second part of the solution lies in the ability to publish your courseware to multiple output channels.

Using an industry standard like XML to store your content, you can (by using a single production process) apply an unlimited number of formats to the same piece of XML (with style sheets) which will finally result in outputs for almost any imaginable media, ranging from print (PDF) to html, CD-ROM and ePub.

productONE offers free hands-on workshops to afford developers of courseware an opportunity to try out single source courseware development.  A guest speaker from the University of Pretoria also provides insight into digital publishing best practices. Registration here.

As from 2011, the University of Pretoria started to include single source content authoring as part of their 3rd year Digital publishing course.  This is part of their vision to equip students with knowledge that will ultimately revolutionize the way we author and consume courseware and other published content.

Publish Arbortext to ePUB

November 25, 2010 2 comments

Have you ever wondered how you would output your Arbortext XML document to the new (and seemingly popular) ePub eBook format?

Well I did…

Personally I believe that we will see this functionality available natively within Arbortext in the near future.  In the meantime, while there may be many ways to skin a cat, I prefer the electric belt sander (only figuratively of course).

Liza Daly from explains how to build a digital book with EPUB here.  Liza provides very good technical insight, but (forgive my laziness Liza) I was looking for a streamlined, easy to use interface that would allow me to use one of Arbortext Styler’s standard outputs to generate a ePub that would be readable on most eReaders.

I own an iPad, so I decided that it would be my target platform for this little experiment.

Here is what I did:

  1. Opened Arbortext Editor (with Styler).
  2. File | New  – Select Arbortext XML Docbook V4.0 from the dialog and check the “Sample” check box.
  3. File | Compose – PDF (save somewhere where you can find it)
  4. File | Compose – HTML (save in a seperated folder where you can easily find it because it will generate more than one file)
  5. Close Arbortext
  6. Download and install the free Calibre ebook tool.
  7. Launch Calibre
  8. Click add books and select the PDF file
  9. Repeat 8 for HTML file (if you like)
  10. Select the book to be converted to ePub
  11. Select the convert individually option from the convert toolbar button
  12. Once the conversion is done, go to the folder where Calibre stores your library (typically c:\users\”yourname”\calibre\)
  13. Select and Drag the newly created ePub file to your itunes and sync.
  14. Launch iBooks on your iPad
  15. If everything went well, you should see the new title show up in your library.

The result is not awesome, but it is good enough to prove the concept.  I did not make any modifications to settings whatsoever and just ran the conversion as is out of the box.

In the future I may make a follow-up post to see how one can optimize the process to improve the conversion and get a better final result.

At this stage, I am happy to say that both PDF and HTML generated from the standard docbook stylesheets converted without any issues and is perfectly readable on the iPad with iBooks.  There are some small differences which I will look into at a later stage.

You can download the resulting ePub files here:

Have you done this in another way?  Care to share your experience? Please leave a comment.

User Documentation – Why it sux

November 22, 2010 Leave a comment

How to be a good colleague

Categories: Uncategorized

Creating Integrated Illustrated Parts Catalogs

November 19, 2010 Leave a comment

PTC provides an awesome set of tools which empower you throughout your product development process.

When it comes to technical publications, their suit of Arbortext tools (IsoDraw, Editor, Styler, Content Manager etc.) provides some amazing capabilities which really simplifies the creation of instruction manuals, and the like.

However, developing an illustrated parts catalog has many challenges as I am sure we all know.

Automating as much as possible without sacrificing quality or control is your typical holy grail.  So while there are many ways to skin the proverbial cat, I am interested to hear how you have gone about the task of creating your own parts catalogs (here I am mainly talking to people outside the S1000D space).

Here are some things to think about:

  • What were your greatest challenges?
  • What tools or technologies were you using and what (if any) changes did you make?
  • Have you integrated your illustrations with your CAD data?
  • Do you manage all your data in a content management system?
  • Have you derived bottom line financial benefit after completing this project?

If you have not yet considered how you plan to improve your technical publications, you may want to review the following whitepapers:

  1. Technical Communications as a Profit Center – PDF here
  2. Revolutionizing Service Information – PDF Here

Reusing content in the Arbortext Content Manager with XUI interface.

November 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Many moons ago the old Arbortext company had a proposal tool which was used by their reps to generate proposals on the fly.

I got hold of this old tool, updated some bits and pieces and added some new bits.

I think that one of the more significant things was: using the XUI dialogs, you can now select content managed in the ACM (Arbortext Content Manager) aka Windchill and include that as content in your new proposal. (You will have to connect to the ACM before creating a new proposal)

Content sourced from the ACM is not considered new and will not burst into the ACM when checking in the document. (bursting rules must be configured)  If you want to change the piece of content which was originally pulled in from the ACM, you will have to first check it out.  This will result in a new iteration of the content in the ACM which can then be promoted to become the released version.

Because the content is burst into multiple smaller chunks in the ACM, the released version will be published wherever it is used in documents.

Want to know how to reference the content chunks in ACM using XUI? Leave a comment here.

Categories: Arbortext Tags: , , , ,

Table of Contents (or Contempt?) in Arbortext custom DTD

November 17, 2010 Leave a comment

This one looks like a bit of a monster to solve.

Essentially I need to generate a Table of contents which resembles the following image:

This is what the end result should look like

This is what the end result should look like

Right away there are two things which worries me a bit:

  1. I have never seen a TOC in Arbortext with borders or columns (Is it even possible to do?)
  2. The standard TOC in Arbortext has 2 columns: 1. the description and 2. the page number.  Here we need a lot more.  Also, the fact that certain items don’t have page, chapter or figure numbers further complicate things.

I am using FOSI as the print engine since the remainder of the stylesheet is FOSI based and there are some source edits. At this stage I am not quite sure how we solve this one.  Let me have any thoughts you may have on the topic.

In the mean time I will be experimenting and will post my results / resolution when I am done.

…..Update: I am currently investigating the use of scripting, maybe JavaScript, will allow me to create the spcial TOC

Categories: Arbortext Tags: , , , ,