Keywords document production systems, technical document handling, technical document databases
Start Date: 16-JAN-89 / Duration: 36 months
[ contact / participants ]
At present, major problems exist with producing, maintaining, and updating technical documentation, and as a result, delays in releasing new products and inconsistencies in product documentation often occur. These problems frequently stem from the lack of availability of adequate support tools, or the lack of integration among the tools that do exist. The SPRITE project aims to solve these problems by developing an integrated system for the production and maintenance of technical documentation.
The SPRITE system consists of six components: a multimedia database (text and graphics), a document processor, a scanning and recognition component, an information acquisition component, a printing component and a retrieval component.
The central component of the system is a multimedia database (MMD), in which documents and information extracted from external sources as well as newly generated documents will be stored. Document versions and version dependencies between document parts will be maintained in the MMD. Searching in the MMD will be possible using a browser. The browser enables unstructured searching in the database by "hopping" from one information entity to a related other, or by formulating a query. Technical documentation generally uses a large amount of data and has a relatively long life-cycle; both are reasons for supplying the MMD with mass storage capabilities, which will be accomplished by integration of an optical disk with the MMD.
For document generation the system will have a multimedia WYSIWYG document processor, supporting both text and graphics editing. One of the important features of the document processor is its multi-author capability. Documents in technical environments, such as service manuals, are usually very large, and it is of great importance to support editing by several authors concurrently. This feature will be realised by assigning the document's parts to different authors and by supplying the MMD with a selective locking mechanism. Consequently, each document will not be stored as one logical entity, but as a composite of smaller document parts. Printing will be possible on a high-quality high-volume laser printer, enabling the creation of prototype documents and the production of a series of documents.
Reusing existing information, both on paper and in electronic form, is well supported. The scanning and recognition component of the system scans documents and drawings (up to A0), converts them into the internal SPRITE format, and stores them in the MMD. This conversion will be carried out, where possible, by sophisticated pattern-recognition modules so that minimum user assistance will be required. In order to integrate SPRITE into existing environments, facilities for information acquisition will be supplied with selected mainframe and CAD systems. Information acquisition will be supported both on the database access and file transfer levels.
SPRITE will pay special attention to integration at two levels: at the level of different components of the system, and at the level of the interface between the complete documentation system and the existing infrastructure at a customer site.
The full set of objectives has been realised. A demonstrator was presented at the 1991 ESPRIT Conference with the planned functional capabilities. The consortium has published the results of the project in the Springer Verlag series of ESPRIT research monographs.
The industrial partners in the consortium intend to use the results of SPRITE in their future products. Complete solutions for the creation and maintenance of technical documentation are being considered, as well as products based on selected components of the SPRITE system.
Dr Jirka Hoppe
CH - 8032 ZÜRICH
tel: + 41/ 1-550024
fax: + 41/ 1-557001
OCE-NEDERLAND BV - NL - C
AEG ELECTROCOM GMBH - D - P
KATHOLIEKE UNIVERSITEIT BRABANT - NL - P
TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN - IRL - P
ALCATEL TITN - F - P
DAIMLER-BENZ AG - D - A
INTELLIBASE NV/SA - B - A
UNIVERSITÄT HAMBURG - D - A
FRAUNHOFER-IPK - D - A
ARMINES - F - A
SPRITE - 2001, December 1993
please address enquiries to the ESPRIT Information Desk
html version of synopsis by Nick Cook